The Time Of Our Sports Lives: How Europe's Games Neglect The Clock

Play associated audio

Why is it that Europeans don't pay as much attention to time in sports as we do?

You American novices to soccer, who climbed on the World Cup bandwagon this summer –– you must have been completely baffled by how soccer has a thing called "stoppage time." That means that the game goes on after regulation time is up for an undisclosed period that only the referee knows.

Or, if you've been following Wimbledon, you know that in the final fifth set for men or the deciding third set for women, the tie-break doesn't apply as it does in the United States. The match is forced to drag on eternally — even, if you recall John Isnur and Nicolas Mahut four years ago, for 11 awful hours to a score of 70 games to 68. Even Camille died faster than it took to play that dreadful set.

Cricket you don't have to know much about, except they actually break for tea.

Americans, on the other hand, only dilly-dally for crucial, life-affirming reasons: to allow commercials. The American way of life. We Yanks are crass-conscious.

Thus, especially in basketball, the last few minutes of most games are interminable, as everybody calls time out and shoots fouls, allowing for commercials that you can't avoid because the game is on the line. Football is almost as bad.

But say this for both basketball and football: they have time clocks. You can't just kick the ball back and around. You gotta shoot in 24 seconds. You gotta get a play off in 25. That's the American way. That's what Henry Ford taught us on the assembly line. Move it!

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's conclusion on the issue, including, in honor of the World Cup, the extra point he gets to make during stoppage time.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


No Meekness Here: Meet Rosa Parks, 'Lifelong Freedom Fighter'

As the 60th anniversary of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott approaches, author Jeanne Theoharis says it's time to let go of the image of Rosa Parks as an unassuming accidental activist.

Internet Food Culture Gives Rise To New 'Eatymology'

Internet food culture has brought us new words for nearly every gastronomical condition. The author of "Eatymology," parodist Josh Friedland, discusses "brogurt" with NPR's Rachel Martin.
WAMU 88.5

World Leaders Meet For The UN Climate Change Summit In Paris

World leaders meet for the UN climate change summit in Paris to discuss plans for reducing carbon emissions. What's at stake for the talks, and prospects for a major agreement.


What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.