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The Sports Thread


#1146

At this time, I would like to discuss soccer or real football…

It will never catch on in the States because it would have to leap over the 4 major billion dollar sports already established there, and it is low scoring (like a 2-0 score is a blowout).

I get it and respect it that it is international and it features a real world championship, but America on the whole… no.


#1147

More kids play soccer than any other sport and it’s the #1 sport among Latino Americans. I don’t know what might happen in 20 years. I think NFL will freefall when Brees, Brady and Rogers retire, I think MLB is in real trouble, I think NBA will rise higher and higher and hockey will stay steady.

If a real TV network gets behind soccer I could see it rising up.


#1148

I was in a pizza joint/brewpub today and the Germany-Mexico game was on. Nobody was watching and finally a patron got up and asked the bartender to put on the World Series of Poker instead.

People have been saying soccer is about to catch on in the states my whole life and it feels time to just let that one go already. We’re a country of 350 million and can’t be bothered to field a team good enough to qualify for the World Cup…read the writing on the wall, everyone.


#1149

Soccer’s greatest obstacle in the US is the lack of time-outs and other opportunities to “go to commercial”. American sports have frequent built-in moments where the action pauses and adverts can be aired, which is the main reason why the networks carry the sporting events in the first place.


#1150

Two middle aged white guys aren’t the target soccer demographic. When the World Cup arrives in 8 years it’ll take the US by storm.


#1151

My point is this is they’ve been saying stuff like this since the 90s. It’s now 2018 and the US didn’t even have enough good players to qualify for the World Cup.

I mean I guess in 2050 or whatever things will be different but who can say. It does feel like we collectively continue to move the goalposts on this discussion though. Pun intended?


#1152

I think it really depends on your marker for success. The US have their traditional sports and that’s pretty impossible to supplant in any short to medium term, maybe never but they don’t necessarily need to. Maybe that is moving goalposts if the majority have claimed it’ll dominate as the top US sport but I’m not sure that many have.

In that time period though since 1994 they have set up a proper pro league after a few aborted attempts and the top few teams there actually get bigger crowds than half the teams in the English, Spanish and Italian leagues. In the last 5 years they’ve played a couple of games at the Michigan Stadium with visiting teams that have sold over 100,000 tickets. So there’s definite growth in interest.

The World Cup qualification thing is just it can be pretty hard if you mess up only a couple of games. Italy didn’t make the World Cup either this year and they are probably the most football obsessed country on the planet.


#1153

Things have changed. Head injuries have killed the next generation of football. And the youth soccer movement is really massive. Plus there’s 60 million Latinos in the US. You could field a competitive Latino only team. If they all were legal.

Ultimately the professional money has to compete with the 4 majors. The average MLS player earns $314k a year, which is close the NFL minimum. Once that gets higher, and if soccer can penetrate black athletics as a real alternative to football I can see a change happening.

Particularly if the NCAA help make it happen, or you can get on teams out of high school and the NCAA keep being cunts.


#1154

There may be a tipping point eventually but these are all things that have been said for decades too. There were robust youth soccer programs when I was a kid, schools that refused to have (American) football programs, millions of immigrants from Latin America and African countries.

One of my good friends is heavily invested in youth athletics and he says it’s strange how that youth participation doesn’t scale up to an adult interest in soccer. I think it makes sense if you don’t love the sport, although as Gar notes the MLS is picking up some popularity, particularly in cities with none or one major sport. And the Argentina-Iceland game pulled in about 3 million viewers which isn’t terrible (maybe Messi should play every game) but overall US ratings are down considerably from past years, likely due to the time zones and lack of US team.

It is a funny conundrum. The people in the US who are interested in professional or national soccer are happy to follow other countries’ programs and are a bit embarrassed to root for hte US program. The rah rah USA crowd who might really get excited about the US program will never be interested in soccer.

The thing that could really plant the soccer flag in the US for good is if they win it all in 2026, or at least make the semifinals, AND have one or two very charismatic stars. (Another problem is we love our stars here and US soccer players have always been interchangeable stuffed shirts as exciting as oatmeal). I would say this is not likely to happen though.


#1155

I think another thing that hurts soccer in the US is that Americans are used to a championship game/series every year. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL championship games/series are annual events. The World Cup happens every four years. The US would have to develop its own annual championship game/series to keep people interested. There may already be something like that but I simply don’t know.


#1156

There’s a MLS championship game every year.

I think all it really take is a bit of hardcore marketing and promotion, the development of a few young stars (rather than trading on has beens who no-one outside of soccer fans know). I’ve been to several MLS games and there are lots of passionate fans.

NFL and NBA are better sports to watch though. Their structure lets commentators create narratives and set up drama before a play, something hockey and soccer can’t do. They’re way more interesting to watch as a result. MLB has the same drama, but it’s for every fucking pitch and it’s mind numbing.


#1157

I’m with Jim on that, there’s a national championship every year. The World Cup is the equivalent of an Olympics, something that’s logistically and financially impossible to do annually, it’s just too big.

Of course they need to sell the MLS championship game better if that isn’t coming across.

Robert is right too in any sport characters are a huge thing. I know Hope Solo from the womens game and most Americans know of David Beckham even though he’s English but I couldn’t name any of the US mens team.


#1158

Per Wikipedia, the MLS season runs from March to October. That puts it directly against baseball.


#1159

ESPN and Fox own the rights. There’s the reality that the other sports won’t encourage an upstart taking away their fans, and the TV guys help make that happen. When NFL and NBA are on they dominate the media, and there’s no windows at all during playoffs, so the would be 4th sport needs to be smart about things. The best gap is June thru the end of August, and MLS is dumb for not maximizing that time period. Things are so desperate that Nascar actually gets some ratings. February is the only other available month and I think that’s where the new football league is planing on targeting.


#1160

The thing is the other main sports in the US have high scoring games, but soccer scores are 1 or 2 points all game and some teams even play for a tie.

Don’t get me wrong please. There is an excitement when a team approaches the opposing net and gets a shot off, but Americans are too used to higher scoring sports.

Football ,will be around because of the gambling and money, hockey has its niche, and basketball too although in some instances, to be brutally truthful, can be “too black” for a white audience to really get into…Baseball is a national pastime and an acquired taste.

I hope soccer keeps on trying but it is an uphill climb


#1161

Well that’s just silly :confused:

It’s a winter game. Who wants to run around outdoors in a jersey for 90 minutes in the summer?


#1162
  1. American’s aren’t a different species. If soccer can enrapture every other country on the planet it can do the same in the US. People are just people and can find drama in any sport.

  2. American’s aren’t what they used to be. Won’t be much longer before white people are in the minority - that’s already the case in Texas and California.

15 years ago there were 10 MLS teams. Right now there’ll be 26 by the end of this year, and no doubt they’ll end up at 32 soon. It’s growing more rapidly than any other sport.


#1163

To be honest it’s also something you get used to if you get into a game. I mean ice hockey doesn’t score much higher (and in truth tactically is pretty much the same game, but on ice with sticks).

It’s the same with Europeans that will say they like a simple flowing game, not something like NFL where it’s very complicated and the usual complaint ‘too stop-start, there’s a commercial break after every tackle’. However if you sit down and take it in you can see the appeal. It’s also a game that’s growing in the UK at least, the couple of games they play each season are all sold out at big venues like Wembley or Old Trafford (80-90k capacities).

As with all other pastimes I actually see the medium term future being more fragmented. As with TV you can support smaller audiences with subscription models for the fans.


#1164

The thing with soccer is great moments are relatively rare. Missi can’t make a penalty but he’s still one of the greatest of this generation. That simply doesn’t compute in the US. Some fat fuck from the stands can make that penalty, half the time the goalie jumps the wrong way for you.

NBA works because the greats get great moments all the time, and they’re doing things the normal human can’t do. Same with NFL when a guy breaks a couple of tackles or a QB gets a long bomb on target. Soccer gets the occasional bicycle kick or curved free kick, but too often top of the line soccer looks similar to jr high school soccer.

There’s only a few times I’ve watched soccer and seen something that looked extraordinary. When Maradona played, or George Best.


#1165

I think Al-x’s point about scoring is a salient one. You can say hockey doesn’t have scoring and that’s true but hockey is also the least popular major sport here. Baseball doesn’t have high scoring but it’s an individual sport disguised as a team sport.

The “high octane offense” will always capture the imagination in American football and basketball. Defensive matches are more of an acquired taste, and harder sell. I’d rather watch a well played 86-78 basketball game than a lousy 122-118 game but I know that’s the minority and the low scoring game will almost always be considered “bad”. Learning to love a 1-0 soccer match is pretty hard if you haven’t grown up loving it.