Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Newsflash: soccer isn't gonna happen here

The MLS Cup took place last Sunday afternoon (MLS is an American professional soccer league, and the "Cup" is it's championship game), and it was won by the L.A. Galaxy.  The next day I saw a Sportscenter interview with David Beckham on the subject of what winning the Cup meant to him.  He was also asked what needed to happen for soccer to become as popular here as it is in the rest of the world.  Beckham's response was that it just "needs to be around for a few more years."  Well I've got some news for you you silly Brit: It's not gonna happen here.

When I was a kid EVERYONE my age played soccer.  So I figured that meant by the time I was a grownup soccer would definitely become popular in the U.S.  I was wrong.  When I was in college MLS was formed, and I thought that would be the thing that got American soccer going.  I was wrong again.  If you watch the clip of that interview, you kind of get the feeling that Beckham thinks MLS began when he came here 5 years ago.  But the league started play in 1996.  I'm sure there's some statistical data to contradict this, but I don't really get the feeling that MLS is any more popular now than it was 15 years ago.

There is one fundamental thing that just isn't ever going to change: In other countries all over the world their best athletes play soccer.  Here our best athletes play football, basketball, and baseball.  I'd be willing to bet U.S.A. soccer would be #1 in the world year in and year out if all the stars of the NFL, NBA, and MLB had decided long ago to play soccer instead.

1 comment:

  1. Yes there are mountains of data to contradict your misinformed "opinion". Don't worry you are not alone the sports media, mostly for selfish or nostalgia driven reasons repeat the same garbage. What has changed... The league and specific franchises are now profitable. Their is a greater diversity in ownership and an actual and immense widening of the talent pool to sustain a bigger league. Soaring television revenues. More and more outlets bidding on domestic (MLS and lower division) soccer rights. On and on and on... Chose your indice or metric and it's probably met. Btw, most NBA and NFL athletes are ill equipped to be successful in soccer. Don't worry your "theory" is another junk claim the mainstream media purports as fact that isn't supported by evidence, too so you are also not alone in thinking it. Soccer is a blend of long distance and short distance athletecism, where immense stature can be more of a hinderance than a benefit. Take a guy like Steve Nash who was a very good soccer player but nowhere near ever being one of the best players in the world like he was in the NBA (and he's relatively short). MMA athletes share more in common with soccer players than soccer players do with basketball players or NFL players. Though it's not like that sport is exactly stealing all the best players. For soccer to succeed in America, certainly it'd be better if guys like Chris Paul or Darren Sproles were drawn to the game (though they represent only a small cross over with mainstream American athletes), but really it is just getting a system in place to train young players. Our coaches, tactically are crap. They are getting better, but it takes time. Things are miles better than when Beckham landed here (just look at the coverage ESPN now gives to the sport), and light years better than when the MLS started. Before accepting someone else's opinion as your own or repeating the same jokes about the sport do a little research. You'd be surprise, your headline would be vastly different if you took the time to educate yourself. Cue jokes about soccer not being worth your while to do just that...


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