The Massively Sexist Analogy Brits Use To Explain Offsides To WomenS

Soccer offsides is hard to grasp, for Americans raised on a hard-and-fast line demarcating what's legal. But it's presumably not difficult for a professional referee, regardless of gender, despite the boorish comments that got two British broadcasters in trouble.

Sky Sports suspended Richard Keys and fired Andy Gray after off-air comments questioning a female referee's onside call (she was right, they were wrong.)

Gray and Keys were roundly and rightly savaged, including one espnW column that made a passing reference to a shoe-shopping comparison apparently used to dumb down the offsides rule. Intrigued, I consulted the Official English Friend of Deadspin. Here's how he relates it:

You're in a shoe shop (soccer pitch), second in the queue. Behind the shopkeeper (goalkeeper) is a pair of shoes which you have seen and which you must have (the goal). The shopper in front of you (the last defender) has seen them too and is eyeing them. But both of you have forgotten your purses. It would be rude to push in front of the first woman if you had no money to pay for the shoes.

Your friend is trying on another pair of shoes at the back of the shop and sees your dilemma. She prepares to throw her purse (the ball) to you. If she does so, you can catch the purse, then walk past the other shopper and buy the shoes(score a goal). She could also throw the purse ahead of the other shopper and while it is in the air you could squeeze past the other shopper, catch the purse and buy the shoes. But until the purse has actually been thrown (the pass is made), it would be wrong for you to be in front of the other shopper and you would be offside.

Oh lord. That's so patronizing. But on the other hand, I think I understand offsides now.