You probably didn’t catch the MLS match at the Meadowlands last night between the L.A. Beckhams (Galaxy) and the New York Red Bulls. Almost 70 thousand did see the match in person and probably a good number on tv. It was a 5-4 shootout NY won and Becks had a pair of early assists. It was an exciting sporting event whether you like soccer or not.
And that’s where this brings us. It seems like there are just two camps, those who like/love soccer and those who don’t care about it in any way. I worked with some guys who pushed me to check it out over the past years and I’ll admit, I enjoy the English Premier League matches (Chelsea/Liverpool/ManU…etc). I saw my first one in person a few weeks back while in England, Chelsea vs. Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. To describe the atmosphere…it’s like SEC football. The fans as intense, probably more so, than the action on ‘the pitch’ (that’s me blantantly dropping some football lingo).
Wayne Gretzky was on the radio show last Wednesday and he talked about Beckham and how they both brought a sport to America, via Los Angeles. Gretzky was the best player in the world when he joined the LA Kings. He was still at the top of his game and the Kings played to sellout crowds…and played well. Beckham isn’t the best player in the world. He’s very good, probably past his prime but still a fantastic passer and a player with a flair for the dramatic. Gretzky, I believe, was directly responsible for the NHL’s expansion to places like Phoenix, Dallas, Carolina. While the NHL is in a lull now, Gretzky did make it a top tier sport for a long time.
I don’t know if Beckham will do anything near that for the MLS. The MLS will likely see a nice upswing in viewership and interest. It already has. But long term, is America ever going to be a soccer-loving country? I hear a lot of people say, “I hate soccer” or “Nobody cares”. It’s hard to argue with them. They do have a lot of history on their side of the argument. I would tell those who don’t like or care for soccer…take a peek. Pick a match and watch it (almost no commercials!), or go to one here or overseas. It’s an attractive atmosphere.
Now I want to hear from you….will soccer ever be a major sport in America…tell me why or why not. If you’ve sampled it and still don’t like it, tell me why and if you’ve sampled it and BECOME a fan…tell me why.
Ok, gotta go. Second half of Liverpool-Chelsea is about to start.