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I think the real fan objection to playing NFL regular season games in London is that you are cheating home town fans and season ticket holders. There aren't that many home games as is, and sending your team to London means you have one less home game to go to.
posted by dave2007 at 09:37 PM on November 06
"How many times does the NFL have to fail in Europe before we realize they care as much about our football as we care about theirs."
False equivalence. There's very high TV ratings for the EPL in the USA; NBC just outbid Fox and ESPN for the rights. There's a bidding war for World Cup and other international TV rights, as well. I'm sure there's a healthy sub-culture of NFL fans in Europe, but there aren't multiple European TV networks getting into bidding wars with each other for NFL TV rights.
Meanwhile, domestically, MLS draws more per game on average than the NBA or NHL. Yes, MLS is still a long way from getting to NBA/NHL levels of gross revenue, but it is doing very well and growing nicely. Go watch some MLS matches on TV or the internet if you don't believe me. Pay attention to the big crowds in the newer MLS franchises like Seattle or Portland. Soccer definitely has earned a permanent place in the US sports scene (in fact it's been around since the 1880s but never managed to break into the big time permanently), whereas American gridiron football in Europe is still an oddity - difficult and expensive to play, too well adapted to TV to be much of a live experience for people who did not grow up in a gridiron culture, and with no organic gridiron culture of its own in Europe that is remotely comparable to the organic home-grown soccer culture here in the USA.
So please don't compare the plight of gridiron in Europe with the healthy state of soccer here in the USA. This claim is a little too much "false equivalence" supported by a rather outdated notion of the state of soccer in the USA.
posted by dave2007 at 09:34 PM on November 06
Well, that's it for owlhouse, then.
Consider a different perspective: as an American I find this is a huge improvement reading something about cricket from a fellow American. Many simply don't grasp the huge linguistic and conceptual barriers that cricket has for Americans. To an American most cricket writing is literally undecipherable - the words look like English but they don't parse. The meaning is lost, too much cultural knowledge is simply assumed by the writer which doesn't exist in the American reader.
I went to the "swinging away" cricket exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown earlier this year, a co-production with Lord's and a Philadelphia area cricket history collection. I was literally the only person I saw looking at the cricket exhibits most of the time. Most American baseball fans simply aren't interested in the history of sports beyond the narrow parochial myths, stories and stats of American baseball. "It takes five days to play and can still end in a draw" is literally the only thing most of them know about cricket. I heard an American child watching a video of a cricket match for the first time: "that's so WRONG!" ...a childish attitude most never grow out of. I mean literally most adult sports fans still feel this way; they know what they know and they don't want to learn anything new.
It's nice to see any American sports writers take these sorts of things seriously. The parochial nature of American sports writing is overwhelming. The internet and greater access to the sporting world outside of North America has changed that somewhat. In short he can talk about himself all he wants, so long as he conveys the new information in a language I can understand.
posted by dave2007 at 12:41 PM on December 28
@33: Total number of players is meaningless because most American rugby players have never held a rugby ball until they join a rugby club at university (ie ages 18-21). That is far too late to be learning the game. That is why, in spite of some ex-pats from rugby countries on the USA Eagles squad, we will likely lose three of our pool matches by huge margins, and I'm frankly dubious we will do all that well against Russia, either.
posted by dave2007 at 01:27 PM on September 08
Rugby is too similar to gridiron. Soccer has created its own niche in the USA precisely because it is different from the big three American sports.
"Takes over" is a complete red-herring. Soccer does not need to take over from the big three in order to thrive in the USA. It is doing quite well in fact.
It took soccer 45 years to get to this point, though. Starting with the televising of the 1966 WC final in the USA. Prior to that soccer was confined to ethnic enclaves. But even 45 years ago, soccer had a much bigger presence in the USA than rugby has NOW! Soccer had several attempts, in the late 19th century and in the 1920s and in the 1960s and 1970s to make the big time. Rugby has had zero attempts.
As early as the 1920s and 1930s top level visiting European soccer teams could draw crowds of over 40,000 in the USA. Today those visiting teams regularly fill NFL stadiums of 60,000 or 70,000 or more. Top level visiting rugby teams have only just reached crowds of 10,000 or so in the last decade in the USA. There has been a huge, under-served soccer fan presence in the USA for over a century. American rugby fans are few in number and very recent in origin, and the TV coverage unfortunately reflects that. USA rugby fans will have to pay extra to watch most of the WC matches. Soccer fans do not have that problem, and we do not even have commercial interruptions anymore, either - people said that would never happen, but it did.
Rugby does not have the huge populations of American fans interested in following the top level competitions overseas that soccer has. The money to be made in rugby in the USA is much smaller than for soccer.
It would take many decades of intense and expensive effort to raise rugby to the minor, but still respectable, position soccer is in now. And I do not yet see any billionaires out there willing to do for rugby what they have done for soccer.
Finally, the modest growth in club rugby is meaningless without any growth in youth rugby. College is far too late to be learning rugby fundamentals. High school is better but there are only a handful of HS rugby programs. Stealing players from gridiron is unlikely to work either and will antagonize the already hostile sports establishment. Rugby in the USA is still too much of a drunken frat boy sport. Great fun as a social club but nowhere near professional enough to be taken seriously. The leap to true professionalism is unlikely to happen because the money making potential is not there. Rugby of either code is too similar to gridiron to be able to draw enough new fans and players in the USA to make rugby commercially viable. Similarity to gridiron is a disadvantage, not an advantage, for rugby in the USA.
American rugby fans should be grateful for the modest growth their sport has had. But do not get delusional about the future.
posted by dave2007 at 01:13 PM on September 08
Here's the actual link to the footnote which the Conservapedia editor was too inept to link properly:
Note that the writer misunderstands the story: soccer coaches "don't only need a 100 word vocabulary" - a flippant remark was made, and then some wiseacres went out and made up a list of 100 words. This is a joke - which the writer doesn't get. No coach limits himself to 100 words; but if he had to maybe he could - does a basketball coach really need more than 100 words? A baseball coach? A football coach (note that the playbook contains pre-written plays with diagrams - you only need one word per play - does football have more than 100 plays? Does it matter?). The writer has taken a bit of light-hearted humor and interpreted it literally. It's a joke: look at that list of 100 words - could you really coach a soccer team with just those words? You'd lose all the nuance about what ideas you are tying to convey. It would be like talking in code without context; you'd be out of your depth. You need to actually have some experience with soccer to get the humor here. The Conservapedia writer does not get it.
Dominic Glennon, of the English Language Teaching Department at Cambridge University Press, said: "I suspect Fabio needs more than 100 words to manage the England team effectively but we believe his statement is not far from the truth."
In other words if he didn't mind coaching badly he might be able to limit himself to 100 words. The point is, no one seriously thinks he would limit himself to 100 words. This is tongue-in-cheek humor. Unfortunately our literal-minded Conservapedia types will never realize this because they are too busy guote-mining.
Of course what our Conservapedian also doesn't get is that a soccer coach doesn't need to explain in great detail to the soccer players how to play, because in soccer, players play and don't take much direction from coaches during play. They have to improvise and come up with the own plays, unlike in American sports where everything is pre-planned. In other words, soccer players are free, whereas American sports players are robots, controlled by their coaches. Is this the "conservative, anti-socialist" line of argument that Conservapedia wants to pursue? Because it completely undermines their case. Soccer coaches don't need a lot of words because they understand freedom! Americans, sadly, have become too militarized to understand the irony about our constant trumpeting about "American freedom" when we are constantly being told what to do by our government. Freedom!
posted by dave2007 at 06:27 AM on July 07
This is too fun not to critique:
"The "no hands" rule can be compared to socialist tax policies."
WTF? Is baseball's balk rule comparable to the GOP tax policies? Is basketball's traveling rule comparable to the Laffer Curver? Seriously, WTF?
"The "off-sides" rule prohibits using certain aggressive ("unfair") tactics in the game."
As do all kinds of rules in American sports. Does the writer actually know any sports rules at all? Prohibiting unfair or overly-aggressive tactics is done in all sports, popular American sports included.
"Soccer is very bureaucratic, and teams are very much tied to their countries."
Again, WTF? NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL/NCAA aren't very bureaucratic? American teams aren't very much tied to their countries?
"The US is often treated unfairly by other nations in the game, one reason being soccer's lack of popularity in the US - socialism always claimed to favor the absolute will of the majority rather than personal and economic freedom of the individual."
WTF x100! Everyone thinks their team was treated unfairly. That hasn't stopped sports from being popular. Will of the majority? Isn't that democracy, not socialism per se? Personal and economic freedom of the individual? Has the writer never heard of team sports? This doesn't even parse as bad demagoguery; it literally makes no sense at all. It is so incoherent, that "it isn't even wrong" as they say.
"The World Cup trophy resembles socialist Hollywood's Emmy Award."
WTF? Not true, but so what? The Super Bowl trophy looks like a hood ornament. The World Series trophy looks like one of those old fashioned desk-top spikes for holding down memos/notes. This idiot, of course, knows nothing about what the original Jules Rimet trophy looked like.
"In youth leagues, everyone gets a trophy for their efforts regardless of achievement, and there is no scoring in the game."
Getting trophies for participation is an American capitalist thing, not a socialist thing, and is done in all American youth sports, not just soccer. And there is plenty of scoring in the game: the writer is an idiot x100.
" Even the World Cup encourages "achievement" by holding a third-place game for the two losers in the semifinals."
Again, so f_cking what? So do plenty of other sports; the NFL used to do this, the Olympics do this - giving a bronze medal is suddenly "socialist" now? WTF?
"Union strikes, even during the playing season, are a major issue with soccer."
No they aren't - not in comparison to pro sports in the USA. Right now we are threatened with both an NFL and an NBA strike, and there have been strikes in the other American major leagues over the past 10-20 years. How many strikes have there been in soccer, especially in the big leagues? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? The writer could have done some research - 5 minutes Googling would have sufficed.
"Riots caused by "hooligans" - fans of a team which lost a game - often include violent crimes, such as infringement on private property rights."
Yeah, this sort of thing NEVER happens in the North American major league sports and college sports, does it? And let's not hear the "Vancouver is in Canada" excuse, because there is a long list of American cities with sports riots where violent crimes and destruction of private property occurred. Again, a few minutes doing some basic research would have sufficed to avoid howlers like this.
"Participants are known to behave dishonestly and illegally and act against the interests of their team in order to gain financially themselves.
Again, this happens in spades in the American major leagues. Is the writer a complete idiot, or a Poe? Sadly, there's no hint of humor here; the writer really seems to not know what he is talking about. He or she isn't just mostly wrong, but totally wrong, on everything!
"Soccer coaches only need a vocabulary of about 100 words to coach their teams ,"
Go to the Conservapedia page, and click on footnote number 6 - it takes you straight back to the same place on the Conservapedia page on soccer linked above! In other words, it is a fraud. The writer has no source for this claim. Given the fact that he or she has been 100% wrong on virtually every other point in this list, what are the odds that there is any reliable source for this claim? Can you imagine any soccer coach limiting himself to 100 words? It's insane!
"which is reminiscent of socialist pandering to the lowest common denominator."
Socialists only have a 100 word vocabulary? Conservatives don't pander to the lowest common denominator? Hello?
"At least twice as many conservative words alone originated in the 20th century. "
Twice as many as what? This idiot doesn't even bother insert a fake footnote to support that claim. Citation needed! What the heck are "conservative words" anyway? Seems to me a big conservative complaint against the left was that the left was constantly manufacturing neologisms. Now this idiot claims that it is the conservatives who do this?
What a train-wreck. Is it a Poe? Is it a leftist infiltrator of Conservapedia trying to make conservatives look bad? Are the editors blind? One can only point, and laugh. Seriously. Someone who claims to be a conservative let this abortion of an article be published? Have they no shame? Have they no pride?
posted by dave2007 at 06:04 AM on July 07
"Wow, conservatives are idiots."
No, conservapedia are idiots.
"Conservatives are generally smart and realistic -- but whoever wrote this is an idiot."
Conservapedia is notorious for being run by not-very-bright doctrinaire types, often of the Bible-thumper or Creationist persuasion. Since it's a wiki style publication relying on volunteers, and there's no evidence for any kind of editorial control by people who actually know how to write a proper encyclopedia-style article, the result is a train-wreck. This article isn't the worst example I've seen of this kind of stupidity from Conservapedia, either. They don't seem to understand that what they are doing undermines their cause, either. It's pathetic.
"I've actually thought for a while that one of the barriers to entry for Americans regarding soccer is the unilateral refereeing, which is essentially monarchical or totalitarian. American sports veer towards, if not democracy, at least oligarchy, with multiple referees interacting and often a superseding review process. I think Americans tend to dislike the idea that effort or talent can be obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person."
And yet they end up being obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person anyway - or by the whim of a committee. How is that better? I don't really think the refereeing in soccer is an insurmountable hurdle; it is simply a matter of what one is used to. Americans have been getting used to soccer quite a lot lately. It takes time but we're getting there.
Speaking of committees: American gridiron football has been described as "brief bursts of intense violence, separated by long committee meetings".
posted by dave2007 at 05:01 AM on July 07
Yes, but the Graf Spee was an own goal. Also, they played in the Uruguayan league.
posted by dave2007 at 11:43 PM on July 01
"None of this is going to matter until American athletes decide to choose soccer. That's the problem. Our best athletes don't play the sport. Imagine if some of the freakish talents we see in the NFL and NBA had chosen soccer instead of thier respective sport. Can you see Chris Johnson (RB, Tenn.) as a forward or LeBron James and Calvin Johnson (WR, Det.) as midfielders? How about Randy Moss in goal?"
That doesn't necessarily follow; "soccer IQ" on the pitch isn't simply a matter of being a superior athlete; you have to spend a good portion of your childhood developing basic ball control skills and a good portion of your teen years developing an ability to read the game and make split second decisions. Being very tall or very big aren't necessarily an advantage in soccer (except for goalies); players tend towards the average in size - soccer body type is built more for endurance than for size or sudden bursts of speed, so players would have to train differently too.
A sudden influx of bigger, faster American athletes choosing soccer would exaggerate a problem we already have: too many American soccer players and coaches focus on size and speed and not enough on intelligent play - developing good first touch, knowing where to be at the right moment so that you look "fast" even if you aren't really that fast. One should anticipate, not merely run fast.
So yeah it would be nice to pick better athletes from the talent pool for American soccer, but they need to grow up in a soccer environment, grow up thinking and watching and playing and dreaming soccer. That's more possible now than in the past, what with the internet, global TV, a world-wide sporting scene available to all that wasn't available 10-20 years ago.
Kids need to grow up playing unorganized street soccer, for the love of it, not merely "soccer as a youth activity" as it is now. I grew up playing street soccer in the 1970s, but that was because I and my friends grew up with a popular local NASL team to watch and emulate. That plugged us in to the "soccer culture" which is very necessary to get kids to put in the kind of time it takes to create soccer players.
As soccer gets more popular in the USa it doesn't necessarily follow that soccer will be diverting players otherwise destined for football or baseball or basketball or ice hockey; there are plenty of athletes now who don't go into those sports because they aren't a good fit for them, but who might be a good fit for soccer. Someone can be a good athlete but still never make the grade in sport A while being perfect for sport B.
What makes for a good footballer (soccer player) isn't the same set of qualities that makes one good in other sports. Soccer requires a pretty unique set of skills which means that as the USA improves in soccer, it won't necessarily be "stealing" athletes from other sports; it will be discovering and developing athletes who otherwise wouldn't be involved in professional sports at all. There is of course some crossover and many players who are good at multiple sports, but this idea of "pure athleticism" is exaggerate and there are a lot of athletes who are overlooked simply because they don't fit in to the requirements of the existing "big league" pro sports.
posted by dave2007 at 11:16 PM on July 01
"I don't care which teams are in which league as long as this happens. The current unbalanced schedule is garbage."
This will never happen but allow me to indulge my fantasies: balanced schedules with promotion and relegation within MLB (promotion and relegation to the minors will never happen for many reasons we don't want to go into here) and everyone plays by the same set of rules (ie, DH for both NL and AL). MLB is really one league; everyone should be playing by the same rules by now.
Make the NL "division one" (in the old Football League sense), but don't call it that, keep the NL name for historical reasons but make it "division one" or the upper tier, because it is the senior circuit. Make AL "division two", or the lower tier. Each league has 15 teams, balanced home and away schedule of 12 games played against the other teams in the same league, 6 home 6 away (14 times 12 = 168 games; a 10 game home and away would only be 140 games; you could do 11 games home and away for 154 total, but you would then have unbalanced 5 home and 6 away or vice versa).
At the end of the regular season, top 5 of NL and top 5 of AL would go into the World Series playoffs (assuming you want 10 teams in playoffs). NL teams would get better seeding in playoffs because the NL is "division one". The top team in the NL would win the NL pennant and the top of the AL would win the AL pennant; you would go back to old-fashioned pennant races with balanced schedules, followed by World Series playoffs. No divisions based on geography; NL and AL would become single table, balanced schedule leagues dividing MLB into an upper tier and a lower tier, with promotion/relegation between them at the end of the season to match teams based on proven performance rather than geographical proximity or on ancient historical NL/AL vestigial distinctions that really don't mean much any more in the modern MLB.
As indicated above, with promotion/relegation, at the start of the next season, the top (say) five AL teams would move up to the NL, and the bottom five of the NL would drop down to the AL. Or you could be more aggressive and have bottom/top six or seven teams change places; the point would be to make the bottom of NL worth avoiding due to relegation, and to aggressively exchange teams between NL and AL each season, in order to sort teams by ability, ie, the best play the best; the second best play the second best and work their way back into playing the best. You earn your schedule by your team's ability on the field, not by geography or NL/AL history or MLB committees fiddling with the alignments.
This would spice things up a bit, Euro-style, plus you give a real incentive for "free riders" not to be super cheap and hope to sneak into the playoffs on a late season winning streak; the idea would be to encourage the best play all season long. Owners who cheap out would be on the bottom of the AL within two seasons. But, AL teams would still have a chance to make the playoffs, and move up to the NL the next season. So the AL would not be "minor league"; it would still be major league and would not in that sense be like the European system (which doesn't have playoffs anyway so the comparisons aren't precise).
Anyway, it will never happen, but that's my fantasy.
posted by dave2007 at 01:26 AM on June 17
Unfortunately the person likely to replace Blatter would not be an improvement.
posted by dave2007 at 11:08 PM on May 20
Speaking as an American, IMO this is just another 'why Americans don't like soccer' whine, albeit a bit better written than most. Still a waste of time to read, though. Soccer isn't as random as this writer thinks, and it started out as another 'Anglo-Saxon' sport, too (has the writer never heard of rugby or cricket for that matter?); the fact that it is now a world sport has changed its nature maybe but I like a sport that is like real life - I have enough phony fantasy to last me a life time coming out of Hollywood, thanks very much.
Besides, the writer is wrong: fair play results in the stronger/better defeating the weaker/worse team most of the time, which is in fact what happens in soccer as in any other sport. If American sports really believed in fair play, they would not have introduced so many fantasy elements to create a false sense of excitement (endless clock manipulation, needless overtime and tie breakers, playoffs that allow weaker teams to sneak in a lucky run to the championship, etc), not to mention parity, revenue sharing, college drafts favoring the worst teams, etc. If I want to see a scripted fantasy, professional wrestling is at least honest enough to do away with the sport and present an outright fantasy instead. Might as well be honest about it and go all the way.
There's nothing more fair, and more ruthlessly Darwinian, then the single table, balanced schedule, home and away, most points wins it, no playoff system of the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc. Yes there are bad ref decisions and flukes, but those even out in the long run over the course of a nine month season. The writer doesn't seem to 'get it'.
The writer is your typical American sports fan whose entire knowledge of soccer appears to come from watching a few World Cup matches every four years. If that is the source of your knowledge of soccer, then you are going to come to baseless conclusions based on a woefully inadequate understanding of the game. As this writer has done.
posted by dave2007 at 02:00 PM on April 27
@beaverboard : "The D'Backs will fill the seats with their upcoming God N' Guns wingding "
Surely that should be Snake Handlers Night. All the rattlesnakes you can handle and all the strychnine you can drink.
posted by dave2007 at 12:12 AM on April 10
"vigilance, maybe no help ... change the c to a t AND ... vigilante"
Self-defense is not vigilantism.
posted by dave2007 at 06:42 AM on March 19
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