TOBACCO ROAD BLUES IS COMING AUGUST 8TH!
I think I'm pretty typical of the American sports fan when it comes to soccer. I'm a football guy-I played in high school. I'm also a fan of all the rest of the usual American sports. When it comes to soccer, of course I played when I was little, but hated it. Totally hated it. That lasted through 2006. In 2006, I watched the World Cup with interest (I watched 2002 at times, but I don't really remember it). In any case, 2006 I only watched due to the US involvement and when we flamed out I stopped watching. And I didn't watch another soccer game until the 2009 Gold Cup. And with the US playing so well-and it being summer during the day with not much else on-I watched with interest. This interest carried over into last summer's World Cup. And during that event, I watched more soccer than I have ever watched in my life. Since then, I've found I can gear up significant interest in soccer-but only for the key events, like the Champions League final. I can fully appreciate the game, and the superior talent involved from teams like Barca or ManU. But, beyond that...I can't care less about soccer. The ordinary games aren't appealing. I don't care enough to wake up at 8 AM on a Saturday to watch an EPL game. And I have even less interest in other leagues. You mention high school football in your post. And frankly, I love high school football, and would much rather go out and watch that (and I do). So, in essence I agree with your post's final sentence. But, that is as far as I can go. A feeling that happens only once a year. I feel like the casual fan watching the Super Bowl (well except I spend enough time reading before it so sound half-intelligent with regards to the players). And that's somehow strangely ok with me. ----Also, I will note this does not apply to soccer that I have a vesting interest in. I love Carolina soccer. Men's and Women's. In fact, yesterday I was wearing a Carolina Women's Soccer TShirt. And I still would like to see a real major game in person. If I get a chance to go to England, one of the top things on my list would be to attend an EPL event. And if the US gets the World Cup at some point, I'd try to get tickets. Like I said, big events I appreciate, but not the normal ebbs and flows of the season, unlike say baseball where I can watch 150+ games a year.
This is honestly the best post you've ever written. I've grown up to soccer above all other sports (an advantage of having two Syrian parents) and I agree completely when you say that you cant tell of the beauty because it undermines it. I personally think it's because there's honestly no possible way of describing the beauty in words. Being a GIANT Holland fan, I can say that Van Bronckhorst's goal against Uruguay was the most amazing thing I've seen out of a Dutchman since Cryuff and his turn. I really really wish that people in this country would see how amazing the game is, or at least give it a chance. Long live the Orange.-Shaker
I think I'm going to like the posting schedule this summer. I enjoy your long posts, and the less frequent postings keep me from wasting too much time at work :)I've been a casual soccer fan since the '94 World Cup, but the diving and generally shitty referees have kept me from paying attention to anything beyond the major tournaments. I think the IOC is the only organization that can rival the corruption in FIFA (regarding sports orgs, that is).Fix the diving (really, really easy) and the refs (harder) and I'll pay attention.
What about the commercialization aspect that soccer faces in America as opposed to the other "revenue" sports? I have a theory that because of soccer's format, 2 halves with no stoppage, it is poorly suited for America's marketing heavy media businesses and fast-paced culture.Ex. I never had cable growing up and there was really no way for me to watch soccer besides the World Cup/Olympics because it wasn't televised. Forget about MLS being horrible and the different time zones, for mainstream television, soccer is a difficult proposal because the lack of breaks means less ad revenue. Revenue sharing with the leagues could probably be worked out somehow, but look how the NFL lockout is working out. Compared to the Super Bowl which generates ridiculous amounts of advertising money every year, networks are faced with dual problems of lack of viewers and lack of ad space. Media networks unwilling to televise soccer means enjoyment of the sport is lost on so many people who can't grow up with it.Also, the lack of revenue flowing to soccer in the US means that soccer as an industry is broke compared to NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, etc etc. It doesn't have the money to attract the top US athletes, who instead work to go into to sports with bigger paychecks because its the option that's laid out before them(Ochocinco much?). If US soccer doesn't have star athletes that we can love to watch and that can't compete internationally, it's that much less attractive to viewers.Compare that to a Europe with shorter work days and a culture that embraces breaks. When places dedicate certain times of day for a cup of cappuccino and entire days for watching sports, it's perfect for fans and broadcasters alike to have a game with 90 minutes of unbroken action. Networks and advertisers are much more secure knowing that they have an audience and it becomes much easier for revenue to flow through soccer/futbol.Thoughts?
Some responses:THA - I more or less agree with you, though I probably watch a bit more soccer. Still, I'm a ways away from ever really following the EPL or anything. I do like watching on weekend mornings, but I think only because it's sort of an ideal time for it; I'm just waking up, taking it easy, and the games themselves are guaranteed not to less beyond 2 hours. That appeals to me.Shaker, thanks. Not only was Van Bronckhorst's goal great, but so was the call. "It's an absolute FIRECRACKER!" I'll never forget that. Call of the tourney, in my mind. Other than Cantor screaming "Landon Donovan" over and over.Nasty, the problem is that the diving is so ingrained into the foreign style of play. As long as the referees can be fooled into rewarding it, it will continue. I think a good way to curb some of the worst offenders would be to issue more yellow cards for dives.Zhu, I do agree in some ways, though I'd point out that even in the US, they've made it financially viable carry soccer matches from Europe. At this point, any and every good EPL game seems to be on tv, and ditto for the Champions League and (obviously) World Cup. If the popularity grows, they'll find a way to make it work.As to your point about the athletes, it's a good one. I was telling my friend in the bar the other day that it would be a huge boon for soccer's popularity here if an American became a true star, like even on the European level. But it's not ingrained in the youth culture here. Basketball and football are the sports where our best athletes wind up. Since every post I seem to make lately involves race, let's just say it: I don't see a future where the great black American athletes start playing soccer. I can see a reality where in 15 years, the US national team is made up mostly of second generation Hispanic kids. Which is fine with me, but it would limit the exposure the game gets to a white audience.-Shane
http://i.imgur.com/pjtCj.gifThis is the biggest reason I can't stand soccer. I played for eight years and never saw diving like the diving in professional leagues.
Great post Shane. One thing to add- most Americans will never attend a top level match in person. I lived in Europe for a time during college and was fortunate enough to catch a bunch of games, including a Man U-Man City derby, Inter Milan-AC Milan derby, AC Milan-Juventus match, and a Perugia-Dundee United "friendly" (it was extremely unfriendly, actually, and there was a riot in Perugia the night before the game, which resulted in me getting a wine bottle and a chair smashed over my head).Its impossible to really grasp the atmosphere at these games unless you're there. It just a totally different experience. Notwithstanding the palpable tension before and after the games (i felt safer riding the subway after a Sox-Yanks playoff game in 2004 than I did walking out of San Siro), its almost inevitable that you get swept up by the crowd during the game.
Bring it back! -Shaker