6 Soccer…I mean football…or is it soccer here and football there?

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.

-Dan

58 Responses

  1. Hey Dan – i’m in the camp of those who like it. I grew up in rural southeastern KY, where the only sport was Wildcats basketball. And I’m a huge UK fan and also an alum. But I was one of the first kids to play soccer as an organised sport in the area, and I loved the game itself. People will say it’s not physical, and that’s crap. I will admit, I enjoy great skill on the pitch, and I love the EPL matches. The quality is something MLS can’t match – at least not yet. But I think MLS has survived longer than anyone thought it would, and that’s a great sign. The NHL was a “minor” sport before Gretzksy hit the scene, and it’s in a bit of a recession right now, but every sport has that from time to time. I think the important thing is the MLS has a long term financial plan, and that will keep it going long enough for it to catch on in a bigger sense. I didn’t like the Beckham deal, personally. He IS past his prime. I think it’s much more important for the MLS to become the feeder system for a GOOD US National Team. And it’s not there yet. You still here the US coaches talk about specific players and they always comment that those players would be better off PLAYING in some of the European top leagues. But I think they’ll get there.

    I like the fact that I now live in a state with two MLB franchises, the NFL franchises, a premier college football team, and yet I still have MLS soccer and NHL hockey right here in my adopted home town.

    – Larry, Columbus, OH

  2. Dan –

    I often wonder if the issue of popularity of soccer in America isn’t decided as much by the fan support, but rather by the business model soccer represents in terms of advertisements.

    You brought up in your article that a soccer match televised has, “Almost no commercials!” Is it possible that the issue of soccer not becoming a major sport in America is because of the difference between making money off of the NFL and making money off of MLS?

    For many, the popularity of the NFL is explained by the way it fits so well into a televised format. There are many breaks in action, which allow the networks to intercede with commercial breaks on a consisent basis. On top of the pocession changes, injuries, timeouts, and end of quarters, networks also get TV timeouts!

    In soccer, there is no such thing. There are ways to advertise in soccer. Jerseys are plastered with sponsorship. Around the “pitch” advertisements adorn the walls. Whole teams have sponor names built right into the team name. However, there are very few opportunities for sponsors to advertise with commercial breaks.

    American veiwers aren’t used to the type of advertising style soccer uses. I think this scares sponors and the major networks. The fact is, soccer does not “gel” well with television broadcasts. It seems akward and clumsy. A live soccer match is much more fun to see than a match on TV, proportionally higher than any other sport. How do we make money off of soccer? In our free market economy, that is the question that has to be answered before networks and sponsors truly accept soccer as a viable business.

    For that reason, soccer may never become a major tier sport in America.

  3. i enjoy soccer when it means something (champions league, uefa cup). the fans and the atmosphere is what makes it exciting and the mls will never have that. plus the hooliganing in europe is second to none. i enjoy that as well.

    brian in antwerp

  4. Dan

    I would watch soccer, but i don’t understand the rules of the game. If they would take the time and teach it over a period of time..I think i would watch it more. Just like Golf, you have to love the sport to watch it.

    -Jason Columbus, Ohio

  5. Dan

    I’m not the biggest soccer fan but when the world cup is on I watch that. The atmosphere for those games over there are amazing. When Beckham plays for the galaxy I will watch those games. I would take a while for me to become a soccer fan. I also like the fact that it hardly has commercials.

  6. will soccer ever be a major sport in America

    No. Hockey is beginning to fall into the same problem as soccer. There’s not enough scoring and I don’t know whether fans are 100% sure why whistles are blown. Americans also don’t have the patience/attention span to sit and watch a game for 45-plus straight minutes without a break. Every other sport has breaks where you can dash for the bathroom or grab a dog and a beer. Soccer has none.

    I got turned on to EPL soccer about a year ago after reading the Simmons column. I thought I’d follow along with him as he learned the league and the players. Unfortunately he abandoned me and I got stuck rooting for Manchester City, who nearly got relegated. But now I’m a fan. I’m slowly picking up on the teams and the rivalries, but it’s going to take a while.

    Even though I consider myself a fan, I’ve only attended one live match of my hometown Portland Timbers, a team in the USL 1st league. I had an absolute blast. But I haven’t been back. Why? That’s an interesting question. The team here does an excellent job of telling fans they’ll have a great time, yet they stay away by the thousands. We’re more excited about Jerry Glanville coaching at Portland State than we are by the first place Timbers. Interesting.

    Am I alone in preferring to watch a match half-a-world away than watching one down the street?

  7. I’m a big sports fan all around…not just football, not just baseball, but all around sports. Try as I can, I simply cannot sit down and watch a soccer game. From the overly dramatic theatrics to the lack of scoring, to the minutes and minutes of just mindless running around and passing back and forth, there just doesn’t ever seem to be enough happening to keep my interest.

    Justin

  8. I can’t figure out the strategy or the intrigue on the majority of a soccer match.

    I can’t judge good soccer vs. bad soccer…it all just seems the same. Lots of passing, few shots on goal.

  9. I am not a fan because, like dodgeball, it brings back some unpleasant memories of high school phy ed. Nothing more fun than to have 30+ kids running around a football field kicking the ground instead of the ball, deflections turning several of us into sopranos, and so on.

    I would not be surprised if the next generation, who are likely the first to play organized soccer. will embrace it. However, it will take some rule changes for soccer to obtain mass appeal in this country…perhaps segways?

  10. I honestly don’t understand why they would need to change the rules of the most popular sport in the world just so that Americans would want to see it. It is ludicrous. Is it because of an ever shortening attention span in this country? Really?

    I grew up in Argentina, so soccer (better known as “futbol” over there), is almost part of my genetic makeup. I hope it takes off in this country, but I’m not holding my breath for Beckham being the catalyst. It didn’t work with Pele, why would it work with Becks? But, I’ve been wrong before…

    In Argentina, kids start playing at around first grade. The teams are actual clubs that people can join. That is the way to truly sow the right kind of seeds and get some home-grown future Maradonas.

    Right now, I’m watching Boca Juniors (the enemy, as I am a River Plate fanatic), beat San Martin de San Juan 1-0. Earlier, River tied with San Lorenzo.

    Take care Dan.

    Sincerely,

    KS.

  11. I’m one of those who doesn’t like or care about soccer at all. I can’t really put my finger on why… maybe it’s one of those things you have to see in person and/or really like to play, yourself, to get into it? (I stopped wanting to play soccer after like, age seven, and there went my interest in it.) When I’ve tried watching it on television, I just get so bored; it seems like the field is too big and it lasts too long or something. Two of the guys on our local sports talk station are very into soccer, and they tried their best last year during the World Cup to get people to give it another chance. I did and I really wanted to be able to share in their enthusiasm, but I just didn’t feel it. Beckham won’t change that, either. I feel like he’s being force fed to me (which I resent), and I have no idea why I’m supposed to care about him so much.

    I do love hockey though, for whatever it’s worth.

  12. Dan,

    I started following the EPL last year after the World Cup (Go Magpies). I just don’t see the sport gaining any ground in the U.S. though for the following reason.

    1. Its not promoted well. Here is a sport, much like basketball, where the players aren’t hidden behind pads and helmets, yet I can only name a handful of players. The league does not do a very good job of promoting its stars.

    2. The MLS season is during the summer, where most people have a lower level of interest in sports. I don’t know how to change this. You obviously can’t play in the winter and if the season extends into the fall it will get killed by football.

    3. With so much media out there these days, we have become a country of appointment television watching. Almost every sport is in decline in viewership except for the weekend sports (Football, Nascar). The EPL does a good job of this with its games on Saturday and Sunday morning here. MLS games seem to be scattered through out the week and are not very well promoted.

    I think there are several steps the MLS could take to increase popularity, but I just don’t see it making too much progress when most other established sports are seeing declining ratings.

  13. No, soccer will never be a major sport in America…

    because if you don’t grow up with something, it just never quite takes hold. Kids play soccer in America….but 95% is in organized leagues….when was the last time you saw a pickup soccer game?

    I’ll tell you what the prevailing attitude is here in the Northeast….it’s something for the kids to do after Little League in the fall, and until they are old enough to play football. In our soccer org, there is a near 90% drop off from 11 year olds to play to 14 year olds that play…….I’m sure the numbers are similar elsewhere…..any increase in popularity needs to reverse that trend.

    Frank D.

  14. Dan,

    I enjoy being a spectator of college sports; football, basketball, gymnastics, baseball, track and field, softball, swimming – you name it, I’ll give it a try. Anything, that is, rather than soccer. The idea of watching numerous passers making slow, forward progress – only to have it instantly negated by one swift, single kick – is simply too frustrating for the weak of heart to handle. I believe anyone who has played soccer may have an interest in watching it, but the rest of us would rather do almost anything else. That said, I have to admit that I’ve attempted (on your recommendation) to watch the movie Napoleon Dynamite twice – both times unsuccessfully. Sorry, Dan – it’s a “no, thank you” to both! Thanks for the fix last week in your goodbye shows, as well as this website to hold us over until your next gig begins – we’re all counting down with you.

    Maria

  15. I played soccer in highschool and coach afterward to stay busy and giveback. I saw Drew Carey on Letterman talking about soccer and I think he said it best. Something like “it is not the scoring that makes the games fun to watch, but all the times they almost score keeps it exciting”. I agree

  16. I’m 34, can’t stand soccer, but I think it has a chance to become a major sport down the line because of the people under 25 wanting to watch it. I did not grow up playing organized soccer, and it was not part of the high school sports curriculum. With the kids graduating now, it’s different. They play the game, they compete in the game, and they easily have a better understanding of the sport. It will be up to soccer to court that generation of television fans, and build from there.

    If I were soccer, I would not try to convince anyone over 30 that they need or want soccer, it won’t happen.

  17. I have family that loves soccer. So I’ve been to a few MLS games and a few other exhibition games from teams from around the world. Its okay you have fun when youre there. As for Beckham he is the best player on his team maybe. There are better players than him in the MLS already. He does make want to watch though. I also saw the game between the Galaxy and the Red Bulls and 5-4 is a high scoring game. It was exciting.

  18. Soccer in America
    Soccer will never be a major sport in America. If you had asked me years ago when my boys were playing soccer , I would have said yes. At that time my boys were very into the sport and played on several travel teams. When they went to High School they never even thought about playing soccer. Football , Baseball , and Lacrosse were their favorite sports. Two of my boys played lacrosse and one played baseball. If you can’t hold the interest of the kids past 13 years of age you’ve lost the fan base and the sport

  19. Dan,

    After having lived in Romania for a few years, my biggest problem with MLS is that it means absolutely nothing in the eyes of the world. I was in north-eastern Romania during the Euro Cup in 2000, and I don’t remember a more exciting atmosphere than when Romania beat England. The entire city was so alive and buildings actually shook when Romania scored the go-ahead goal. Granted that that was a national team and not a city league, but even the friendly between Liverpool and Dinamo was incredible. I don’t think that kind of excitement will ever be replicated on a nightly basis in the US even with Becks.

  20. Simply…..NO soccer will never be of any significance in America.

  21. Dan,

    You know i use to be really into the “I hate soccer” part of America. I couldn’t stand it or even understand why anyone would watch it everytime you saw a score of a game it would be 0-0 or 1-0 nothing spectacular. But during the world cup I began watching soccer with a bunch of friends and I have to say, I havent stopped watching since. I have every soccer channel on my satelite and watch every match i can. To me i think i enjoy watching soccer now because of the passion each player shows out on the pitch. They are always so intense for all 90 minutes and always going for it all. I really enjoy world cup soccer or countries against each other soccer. The world cup was the best, everyone played like their country had a chance to win, the games always seemed close and once your country was out you could always pick another team to root for. I feel the main attraction to me was the feeling that in most games no team is ever out of it. The score always seems so close you always feel like you team is one goal away from coming back (even though that one goal is much harder to get than it seems). Also the fans are crazy, non stop cheering/booing, singing songs waving flags just all sorts of passion for their team no matter if they win or lose. Also their are so many tournaments in europe for teams to enter in and play in, its like their is never an offseason.

  22. Soccer is a pure sport. And no doubt if embracced it is one of the best sport in history but I don’t know if the American public will embracce it when there are the power houses of the NFL around. Even as a new age sport Soccer is second class to new exciting sports such as ArenaFootball. That being said, if more high profile players such as Beckham play in the MLS and it starts getting premoted there is no reason what so ever that Soccer can’t be a major sport in America. And if Soccer games can ever be as exciting as the game you described over in England than there is nothing stopping it from being the top sport.

  23. Soccer is so boring, very true.
    I personally can’t get into the MLS, I just can’t.
    I can really understand why Americans think soccer is
    unwatchable, and that’s because it is. If a typical soccer
    hater gives the MLS a try, they will hate it for sure.
    I even dislike it with a passion. Our team even won the league title this pat year (Dynamo).
    Football, on the other hand is just out of this world!
    UEFA Champions League, I have to watch!
    I will not miss a match! I watch all Serie A matches, alot
    of EPL, Bundesliga, and La Liga. There is such a huge differance between soocer and football, and that’s why it will not take off in the US. World Cup? I take a whole month off…anything and everything takes a backseat during the World Cup! European tournament? Must see TV!
    If it’s on PPV, I’ll pay whatever it costs for the entire tournament. Copa America? I won’t miss a match either.
    I have a good friend of mine who was a soccer hater, but I turned him on to football, and he loved it. I showed him the differance between football, and soccer. He adopted Bayern Munich as his favorite team during the Chapions League back in 2000. He still watches all he can, and talks to me about matches regularly. Anytime we can get European, or South American, teams to play matches here,
    we make sure we have tickets for the game. I hear people talk about the confusing rules…how hilarious! There are only 12 or 13 rules in football, so very easy to understand.
    The MLS announcers just make the game sound so complicated, I can’t stand it! During the World Cup the American broadcast was horrible. They tried so hard to explain away the USA’s national teams weaknesses. They were apparant, they were plaing soccer in a football tournament. That is why they could not advance out of the first round. Every little thing was wrong, the other teams are diving, they are too defensive, they play the counter attack, they are offside, too many fouls…blah, blah, blah. I had to watch it in Spanish.
    The USA must win the World Cup for soccer to take off in America, but that will not happen until they learn to play football. Dan, soccer and footbal are two different things.
    They are not the same. It is not a matter of different words or titles for a sport, it’s about how you play the game. Any real football fanatic knows this. That is why we laugh when we hear people say that America is so close to the rest of the world. FIFA rankings fool people into thinking that the USA is among the worlds football elite.
    They are not, and yeah, I’m a NFL fan too. I am actually a season ticket holder for my team. I love football, as much as I love the NFL.

  24. Dan

    We Americans do not have time for another sport to watch. Especailly, a sport that can have 0-0 games for 100 min and players that get knocked to the ground and roll around like they lost an arm.

    Give me SEC football any day.

  25. DP

    Count me in as an all sports fanatic that is also into soccer. I do believe that eventually soccer will become a popular spectator sport here in the US. One of the big things holding the game back is tradition. Many fans watch certain sporting events because they were introduced to that event by their father or grandfather. The current generation of parents are the first wave of parents that played the game at a level beyond childhood. As we teach our kids about the game and get them involved, they will then pass that on.

    Baseball is a perfect example of this. I have lost a lot of interest in baseball but still watch because it was something my grandfather and I did together. Baseball goes back many generations for most fans. Eventually soccer will do the same.

    Kenny G – Cinci

  26. Dan,

    I was a die-hard, get that commie sport off my soil, football loving, proud southern boy for most of my life, then of couse I met and married a beautiful soccer player. Well needless to say, my opinion has changed a bit. I actually gave the game a chance, and its pretty good (outside the U.S.). Like you, I can watch the premier league and I actually now look forward to the world cup (and would love to go). It is a good game, but the MLS has a long way to go and I just can’t watch it. Becks may make it a little better now, but I don’t see the really good players making the migration, and until that happens, the MLS will stay in the NHL bracket (or lower) in my opinion.

    josh (6’1″ 195)

    out

  27. I think soccer could be grown into a major sport in 20 years by keeping good players in their region and build the local fan base.

    But commercialism will hamper soccer, just as it does every other sport from football to tennis. Don’t get me started.

  28. IF….IF…..

    IF the large sports start to cannibalize themselves with referee scandals, players getting arrested and steroids (see the 70% of the public that think he’s a joke), then soccer will have room to gain some traction as a place you can actually take your family and not have to spend the entire time explaining to your children why all the players have tatoos, or why someone’s cranium is the size of Jimmy Neutron’s or even wondering if the ump/official/ref has money on the game which is causing them to call a strike zone the size of Eric Gregg’s versus the Braves and for Livan Hernandez (i have to let that one go….)

    personal note: I will miss you and KO on radio. You two are perfect together.

  29. Hate soccer. Absolutely loathe it.

    You know, I used to hate hockey too. But someone took the time to watch a game with me and explain why people stood up, seemingly at random, to cheer or boo.

    Now I love hockey. It’s second only to football in my book.

    But soccer? Soccer fans are elitist and insular. I’ve asked and asked for a tutorial. I’ve purchased tickets to games (yes, multiple) with the understanding that the person for whom I was footing the bill would explain the frickin’ yellow card to me.

    It’s never happened, and that’s why I hate soccer. It’s the fans, not necessarily the game.

    Though I have a hard time sticking with the prospect of the 0/0 tie.

  30. When I was on the local little league baseball board, a few years ago, there were twice as many kids 6-12 playing soccer as there were playing little league. Take a look at all the kids that are playing or have played the sport in the last 10 years…I’m sure you would be shocked at the number of players vs. other sports. As those kids have grown they might have left the sport for the big 3 (Football, basketball, baseball), but they are still fans and once they become a primetime demographic the advertisers might follow.

    However, I still don’t believe that will be enough to make soccer a top 3 sport in the US. Maybe not even a top 4, if you throw in NASCAR, but I believe that it will eventually take out the NHL in viewership; whatever that is worth (I would bet there are already more people playing soccer than hockey in the US).

    As the saying goes…follow the money. If advertisers get on board soccer will make it, if not it will continue to be an after thought.

  31. Hey Dan how’s vacation? I am an atypical soccer fan. I grew up playing all the way until graduating from college, where I simply played club soccer. I like to watch the Premier games, and have watched Beckham’s games. I am an NFL, then NBA, MLB, then soccer fan. I don’t know how MLS can make it more interesting to fans; maybe if they had a few more stars from the european leagues. If I could see Ronaldo and Renidaldo (sp) or some of the stars from the World Cup I would definitely watch more. Rob

  32. Strange Dan!, but we blogged about the exact same thing on the same day. (http://www.sportshoncho.com/2007/08/the-cynicism-of.html)

    Like I said, I am a soccer fan and enjoy watching soccer, even on TV. The amazing thing is that I think people like Beckham will do wonders for the MLS. Real SL, which has sucked this year and average 10-13k attendance, played Chicago Fire, with the Mexican start Blanco. The stadium was filled with his fans. Players like him and Beckham coming to play for MLS will definitely increase the interest shown by soccer fans to the league, but may not convert non-soccer fans as is hoped.

    The MLS has been around for 10+ years now and it is evident that they will be staying (specific stadiums, expansion teams, etc..), but… a major sport in America? Not until the English Premier League is the MLS’s farm league and not vica-versa.

  33. Dan,

    Will soccer become a major US sport? I’d bet on no. I believe it can (though not soon).

    Enough kids start out playing the game in the US that there’s latent awareness of the game and what can make it fun.

    But to become a major sport, it has to win the image game as a sport. In Amercia, baseball is the pasttime and football is the passion. Basketball resonates as a way-of-life, through its association with the toughness of the streets.

    Soccer in the US needs to find a way into our identity as a country. Right now, if you play word association with someone, and you say, “Soccer,” they’re most likely going to say “moms.” That’s not the image or identity to build a major sport on.

    The US winning a World Cup would help. The idea that we as a country can produce our own talent and win would elevate the game above the minivan lifestyle image under which the game currently suffers.

    I think the US is at least a generation away from having soccer as a major sport. On your radio show, KO said that in other countries, soccer loyalties and appreciation is passed from generation to generation, from father to son. If he’s right, it could happen over time, but probably not any time soon.

  34. All you need to do to become a soccer fan is to watch the World Cup at the Pig ‘N Whistle on Hollywood Boulevard. Great fun!

  35. Seeing as how soccer is one of the most popular sports among kids today, I don’t think there’s anything intrinsic about the game that Americans dont vibe with. But it does have two temporary but critical problems that are really slowing it’s development as a huge spectactor sport.

    The first is obvious: the best matches aren’t available to the casual viewer. The only way to get EPL is by ordering a sports package and if you’re paying for a soccer sports package, then you’re already hardcore and don’t need to be drawn into the sport. Sure, we have the MLS but Americans simply won’t settle for watching second-rate athletes playing the sport at an inferior level. The WNBA’s proven that. We have too many options.

    The second problem is that there has yet to be an American-bred soccer stud. How big has bicyling become because of Lance Armstrong? You need that superstar representing us to capture people’s interests. Beckham’s as big of a superstar as it gets but as some would say, he ain’t from around here.

  36. Hi Dan,
    A few commenters remarked that the generation currently reaching adulthood are the first to have played organized youth soccer. Maybe where they live that’s true, but it goes back much farther than that. There was youth soccer in the early seventies if not sooner in Atlanta as well as a very active highschool season. Having played soccer doesn’t seem to have any bearing on whether or not it’s a good spectator sport. Frankly, I couldn’t take the constantly pounding drum and horns blowing. The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the 70’s had a tremendous fan base. How about following their business model?
    p.s. I’m worried about Phil. Can he guest on your site occasionally?

  37. Dan,

    6’2″ 200. I’ve played soccer most of my life and remain active with it nearly year-road (indoor and outdoors). However, it’s probably only 4th on my list of sports to watch (after basketball, baseball, and football).

    I appreciate the subtleties of the game, but I can’t stomach players faking their injuries on foul calls (worse in Europe than MLS), endless off-side calls, and overall lack of scoring.

    I definitely have some doubts about the long term success of the MLS given the popularity of our other sports here, but with changing demographics perhaps it still has hope in the future.

    So even though I love playing it, I’m much more likely to tune into a Cubs or Bears game than a Fire game.

  38. I straddle the fence on this issue. Although I don’t watch stateside soccer, I do like the sport overseas. I grew up in the south (Mississippi), and overseas soccer is more intense than the SEC at least in my opinion. I was in Paris, France when Senegal beat France in the 2002 World Cup. The streets were rioted (cheerful Senegalese Hooligans) and traffic stopped for nearly an hour in downtown Paris. I dont see that happening in Athens, GA or Oxford, MS.

  39. This is a response to the dog fighting video.
    I am certainly not an activist. At least not a yelling, protesting activist. I could not agree more that it takes someone souless to look into the eyes of a dog and then proceed to kill it. I do however find it ironic that many people have been sickened by this Michael Vick dog fighting fiasco while watching stories about it on the news, or watching your video posting while sitting on the couch eating a hamburger. I understand and accept that slaughtering animals to eat has been a part of most societies cultures since it was neccessary to catch and eat them for survival, but I find it grossly hypocritical that this has brought so much outrage from people watching as they stuff a turkey. Are we unaware that cows are holy in parts of the world, treated with even more respect than “man’s best friend?” Holy or not, why is their no outrage about the slaughter house down the street?

  40. Texas girl, born and raised, and I am hopelessly hopelessly addicted to soccer! While I love the MLS (Go Dynamo!) I also enjoy the Premiership (Go Man Utd!).
    Soccer could be huge in the US! The US has so much culture already, it’s hard for something new to budge into our already-packed lives, news feeds, and sport TV. But I believe that if the media keeps reporting on it, the public will watch it.
    Maybe soccer would have a bigger following in the US if you didn’t have to own satellite TV to watch the matches in english. I have to get my best friend to translate! Although, it is helping my spanish a lot.

  41. I’d have to say I am a SPORTS fan, whether it be the obvious Football, Golf, Baseball, and Basketball, or the not so obvious, such as,Horse Racing, Fishing, MMA, and in this case Soccer. I must say though, I think I am product of my enviornment being born and raised in South Texas, On The Border by The Sea, Brownsville, TX., soccer is a staple of the Sports Diet down here with more Mexican Soccer Leagues to choose from than………well Mexican Restaurants to choose from. That being said I hope the true soccer fans around the world do know and understand that Soccer in this country will never grow into what it is and always be outside our borders. Long live the American Football.

  42. Whats up Dan,
    5’11.5″, 203 lbs.

    I grew up in Nigeria and actually moved to the states when i was 18. For people who know football (soccer), it is what the NFL, NBA and MLB in one for most soccer countries, which is every other country in the world BUT the US. I am from a place where we live, eat and drink soccer and i mean the whole African continent.
    Soccer will never become as big as it is in the US, becasue first and foremost, in the US soccer and all other sports are just a game and they are entertainment. For us, where i am from it is life. I am sure you experienced that when you saw the Charity Shield (Man U vs Chelsea game).
    For soccer playing countries, the love and the dedication to the game is not comparable to what the three big sports in the US have together. Let me put this into perspective. A war was going on in two seperate instances in Liberia and Core D Voire (The Ivory Coast), these wars were put on hold for 3 weeks, so that fractions at war could come together and watch the African Nations Cup (which is a world cup but just for African Countries). So as i said, Basketball, Baseball and American Football are all just entertainment.
    Secondly, in all the major US sports, there has to be a home run, dunk, touch down etc, something grand, but the beauty of soccer is that some of the best games ever played in the history of soccer are low scoring games or games that goals wre not scored, which i think is another reason it can not work in the states. All the sports in the US are based of entertainment and comercialization which as you mentioned soccer games run without commericials. the only commercials are during the half time.
    There is no homerun or touch down but if you love the game and follow it, the intricacies during the game or how the game builds up is what we soccer lovers enjoy more. It is just liek a chess game, you are intrested in any and every move, you are not just interested in the plays.
    I do not watch the MLS and find it difficult or just damn right impossible to watch. No matter what happens, the MLS is not football, it is soccer. Now their is a difference between football and soccer. If you recollect the MLS actually tried to change the rules, in the MLS a few years back there was something call shootout, which was like a hockey shootout…… nah nah nah, you do not change a game that has a world cup since 1930.
    Understand this, the first world cup took place in Uruguay in 1930. In some places in the world, they have not even heard of the NFL or MLB.
    Now think of the level of competition of the NBA had to pick just 15 players to make the olympic team. Now, the goal of every NBA player is to win a ring. The goal of every soccer player is to play in the world cup and your dream is to win the world cup, so the priorities are different. It is one thing to root for you home team but it is even better when you root for your country. Now think if coach K had t pick 15 player based on talent or what he feels will make the US win the gold. No Jerry Colangelo, it is just like telling anyone to pick the top 15 NBA players imagine how many people will be left off. That is the beauty of the national team soccer. As Gretsky said, Beckham is not even in the top 10 players, i doubt 20 player in the world. He is one of the best ever at taking free kicks and still is the best presently, but still that does not make him top 20 players in soccer right now (and top 20 is generous). Dont get me wrong, he is a decent player who can still give acurate passes, but let us not kid our selves, he cannot and will not be a savior for the MLS. Imagine if Stephon Marbury or better still Vince Carter went to play for an Basketball team in Greece or one of the big Euro Leagues. First and foremost they will be playing against inferior talent which Beckham is doing in the MLS. Will you a respected journalist take them serious. That is the same way the soccer world is looking at Beckhams move to the MLS. I am talking about fellow players, coaches and journalists around the world, think it is the biggest joke ever.

  43. Soccer sucks!

    Here’s the deal…soccer is fun to play as a kid (I even played in the late 70’s) but really boring to watch.

    It’s America…we’re americans! We love our homeruns, 100mph fastballs, the double play, the squeeze play and our $8.00 beers at the ballpark. We love the 60 yard pass, a kick return by Devon Hester, Brian Urlacker chasing down a running back and we love watching Reggie Bush get “jacked up”. We also have the slam dunk, the fast break, game winning 3 pointers and ref’s who like to gamble.

    Simply put…soccer doesn’t have the big plays and excitement as the other sports. Honesty, I never see it going past something little girls do on Saturday afternoons.

  44. I’m in the camp that loves this game, in fact I love it so much I go to the local pub to watch games and when there are no worthy matches going on, on the other side of the pond I head to my local authentic taqueria and watch the game in espanol. I did play college football where as my wife played college futball, we are the target demographic for advertisers dollars. The skill of the players and the atmosphere and the intensity which is created by the fans, rivals that of NASCAR. Have you ever met someone who went to a “cup” race and hated it? I have’nt met that person, only those who have not been, continue to hate. Now that you had your first taste of the real deal a few weeks back, look who’s watching the games mid-day and putting in print. There was nothing to write about Americas past time Cubs vs. Cards and all the history and 99 years blah blah blah, or what about the new past time football, I know its only pre-season, then again you paid how much, for that “friendly(pre-season) match?”

    Welcome to the club Dan!

    on a side note what an awful day of radio, who can even stand to listen to your former employer, Herd has the week off, Dan is no more, and EK and the Sportsbash is defunct. I feel lost, I know you will be back Dan, Ernie Harwell didnt leave his fans so soon, you have a long run ahead, and we look forward to hearing you again!

  45. […] 6 Soccer…I mean football…or is it soccer here and football there? You probably didn’t catch the MLS match at the Meadowlands last night between the L.A. Beckhams (Galaxy) and the […] […]

  46. Dan, soccer is already a major sport in the United States. What other league can say that, in just ten years, seven of it’s 13 teams have built stadia where they are main tenants? (With three more on the way!)
    MLS ratings mediocre? Perhaps soccer TV ratings are more impressive when you add Spanish language outlets to the mix. And by the way, unlike other “American” sports, MLS’ biggest competition is with other soccer products. Does the NBA suffer because Americans are watching the Lithuanian league? No, but MLS’ real competition is Mexican-Americans watching their domestic league on Univision and Telefutura; and Fox Soccer Channel viewers (Eurosnobs?)who watch England, Italy and Argentina all day, but turn off MLS on Saturday nights. Taken collectively, that’s considerable viewership.
    Last week I walked into a lecture hall of 40 teenagers learning to referee recreational games. I asked if anyone saw the final on Liverpool/Chelsea; six had, and one named the ref who gifted Chelsea a penalty. I didn’t have to explain to anyone who Steven Gerrard was. When I started teaching the game 26 years ago, I would have had to explain what a Chelsea was. These days, American broadcasters have stopped explaining the rules, and “Bend it Like Beckham” can do a good gross here without a guide to terminology available in the lobby. We’ve come a very very long way, partly because of our twice champion, twice Gold-medal winning women, who were center-stage for the event in 1999 that constitutes a cultural paradigm shift, Title IX in full flower. The game’s mainstream, despite the best efforts of xenophobes and frustrated cold warriors’ attempts to ignore it.
    To the uninitiated: relax. It’s only two hours, it’s simple to learn, and there’s a fair amount of drinking involved. Join us.

  47. Dan I never really cared or liked soccer that much, then I worked with my brother at Real Salt Lake soccer games and I got to see the US v. Costa Rica world cup qualifier and in person the game is fun too watch. There is so much you dont see when watching it on TV all of the passes or the movement of the opposite side where the ball is going next, I compare it to hockey AWESOME in person, but ehhh on TV. I have been watching the EPL on Fox soccer channel on sundays pretty fun

  48. one more thing about soccer, I feel with Beckham and perhaps other notable international stars that may come the sport I think will very soon be on par with arena league within 5 years. Also the comment from above is correct with the many soccer specific stadiums

  49. Dan, Here’s what I don’t get. Why does it have to be big in America? Everytime soccer is mentioned that the number one question asked. People in America has better options. American football is the evolved version of soccer and why would we go back to watch the original sport? We certainly are not going to watch Cricket when we have baseball, we are not going to ride horses to work when we have cars, We are not going to throw water balloons when we have Super Soakers, so why are we going to watch soccer when the NFL? And for all the soccer fans that say, “Americans don’t understand the sophistication of Soccer”, let me ask you if you can comprehend the intricacies of Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense.

  50. I don’t necessarily think it needs to be big in America, but the question is will it ever be big here. Like anything else, the sport will only grow once we’re good at it.

    I’m not a big soccer fan, but I have watched and enjoyed the last two World Cups and occasionally watch matches aired on ESPN. I made fun of the sport for a long time, but it’s actually a great spectator sport.

    I really believe if the U.S. won the gold – maybe even the silver – in the Olympics and a star or two that played in the MLS got hella coverage because of it, soccer would see a bigger surge than the arrival of Beckham.

  51. 6′ 2” – 175 (DING!)

    I grew up playing soccer. It started when I was 5. My parents gave me the choice of what to play and back then (late 70’s) we used to get German Soccer on cable and I really enjoyed watching, so I thought, why not?

    Over the years I watched the failed NASL and MISL and eventually the MLS.

    But I stopped playing a few years back when my daughter was born for a couple of reasons….one, the body didn’t want to perform anymore and two, it wasn’t in my heart anymore (more so the latter).

    I can’t even watch games anymore because I’ve lost the taste for it in favor of other sports like baseball and football. Although, I do agree with you that the Premier League games are fun to watch.

    One problem here in America is that I think we like exciting, action-packed sports and soccer just doesn’t catch people’s interests because it’s a lot of ball control and very little scoring. Another reason is that it’s hard to get behind a player since many of the stars of the MLS are from other countries. For a while there, our best guys were overseas in either the Premier League or the German Bundaslega.

    Hurry back Dan. It’s just not the same without you!

  52. There’s a reason every kid plays soccer but almost no adults do…….

  53. I have been an avid sport participant and fan for most of my 42 years on earth. I even played intramural soccer in the early 80’s. I do not think soccer will catch on to the level that the rest of the world is at during my lifetime. It is not the type of entertainment most of us like. I’m not knocking soccer or implying that it is not a worthy sport, but it doesn’t play to our sensibilities. We want action, scoring, and entertainment. We like things loud, violent, and fast. This is why NFL, College Football, and NASCAR are growing and everything else is not…

    I think we will see some slow growth with the rise of popularity here of the World Cup (even a non-soccer fan like me likes a once every 4 year event) and with Beckham playing for LA. But, like hockey, it will never be more than a regional or novelty to most american sports fans.

    NOTE: Love the videos – very clever; looking forward to your new program!

  54. Dan, As a father of a youth soccer player I dream of the day where my child can reach the highest level of his sport
    unfortunatley I am quite sure that would be in Europe. It is frustrating to know that the U.S. will never support this
    sport, and makes me question whether I should be encouraging him to kick field goals or swing the bat. But it comes down to what he enjoys and what he is good at .
    actually the fact that more of our elite players are ending up in Europe is, in the end, going to make our national team
    more of a force internationaly, and that rather than the Mls or The L.A. Beckhams is finally going to make this country pay attention to the real “football”

  55. Dan, I love sports and have for all of my 33 years on this earth. I am an educated person, can understand most games/sports. I can’t for the life of me enjoy soccer. My lasting (and likely final) impression of soccer was the semifinals of the 1996 Olympics. Brazil vs Zaire. The first 20 minutes I have to admit I enjoyed. There was excitement. The crowd was cheering evertime one team got the ball past the next guy or did something athletic. I get that aspect, that’s why I enjoy sports. Then halfway through the first period, half, whatever, I realized THE TEAMS AREN’T EVEN CLOSE TO SCORING. A 2-1 hockey game may have 50 shots on goal. A 2-1 baseball game there may have 10 hits/potential runs on the bases and a homerun can happen at any moment. In soccer most of the time they aren’t even close to scoring, making whatever they’re doing irrelevant. One of the things I love about sports is that you can watch people get close to success, try and fail or try and succeed. Soccer is none of these. They aren’t going to acheive any measurable success and when the do it seems to happen by accident. Soccer is great for Europe. They have teams they love, traditions to hand down, and it’s part of the culture. As for America, we have other sports ingrained in our culture and Soccer is simply an inferior sport, unless you can delude yourself that someone will make a goal with opposing people between the ball and the goal. Vince 6’5″ 290

  56. To preface, I’m a huge college football/nfl fan from SEC country. Growing up, there was only FOOTBALL(LSU, High School, New Orleans Aints-at that time anyway) , Baseball, basketball…in that order and emphasis.

    I’ve gotten into soccer via coaching my kids in rec league. That has expanded into my daughter playing in a successful high school program in Tennessee and coaching my son’s Div. 2 club soccer team.

    My problem with the whole soccer great/soccer sucks argument is that it is always presented in a winner take all way. It reminds me of some sort of evangelist knocking on my door and trying to get me to convert to their brand of religion.

    From the “soccer guy” side, they usually come across extremely defensive and easily manipulated. Listen to Jim Rome masterfully push all their buttons and watch the phone/email lines light up. Their attempts to convert the uninterested are merely humorous (but extremely frustrating to those of us who have grown to love the game but are do not feel a need to “evangelize”–I mean, I was entertained by Star Wars/Star Trek but am EXTREMELY squeamish/creeped out by those who show up at the theater dressed as Obi Wan).

    From the “American Sport” side, I am amused by how vehemently the “anti-soccer” guy argues their point. Frankly, many of them sound somewhat defensive. (Me thinks thou dost protest too much…) It is somewhat typical American arrogance to not merely dismiss a sport that is unarguably the most popular in the world (yet admittedly not anywhere close to that in the US) but also to feel a need to demean and characterize it and anyone who happens to love it.

    Just my 2 cents…
    GEAUX TIGERS
    GO SAINTS
    GO Camp Forest ’96 Boys and Tullahoma Lady Wildcat Soccer

    Mike

  57. Dan

    I used to think that soccer wasn’t really a sport but to be honest i had never seen a game or played in it, however when i came to my new school my older brother started playing so i decided to give it a try, that was when i fell in love with the game. Theres nothing like watching a defender trip over his feet after a well done skill or the trill you get after you put the ball in the back of the net for the winning goal. I dont really think that futebol will ever catch on in america as a favorite sport but i do think that it will have enough of a following to stay around just outside the sportlight.David

  58. I used to hate soccer, then after getting over the “its a foreign game for sissies” bias, I grew to enjoy it. My mind really changed after a friend dragged me to a MLS game, and it managed to convert me to a fan. Then I started watching english EPL games, and now I’m hooked.

    I think if most traditionalists in America who can’t fathom opening up their mind to non-american ideas would simply give soccer a chance, they would like it, and after a bit of initial confusion, learn to love it.

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