FanDuel - WFBC

July 14, 2007

Beckham Comes to the Colonies:

posted by FonGu to soccer at 04:06 PM - 57 comments

This brings me to an earlier discussion on SpoFi, where we discussed if ESPN is killing hockey. I heard a talking head on ESPN say on the 7/13 airing of Rome is Burning that he would rather cover a rock, paper, scissors tournament than cover soccer. So, as a similar question, is the media, in particular ESPN, hampering the development of soccer in the USA?

posted by FonGu at 04:11 PM on July 14

That clip is two months old. Has Rome commented on Bekcham in the last couple of days? A lot of things, including Calderon's opinion, have changed since then. To your question: it depends on what media we're talking about. Minutes ago, I watched the under 20 squad (sadly) lose to Austria on Telefutura. They or their partners have broadcast the u-20 World Cup, the Copa America and the Gold Cup this summer. That's broadcast TV we're talking about. There's certainly a market for soccer in the States, and some media are responding.

posted by rabi at 04:38 PM on July 14

After spending about a year without any cable and returning to ESPN only recently, it appears that my prior assessment that the network had hit rock bottom and become a parody of itself was off base, as it has slid even further. Who's More Now? WTF? (There's an whole other thread about the American infotainment industry's obsession with ranking things, comparing apples to oranges, etc., but I'm not going to go there. For now.) Because of its access to content, ESPN will continue to dominate sports coverage, but ESPN is to serious sports journalism what the O'Reilly Factor is to serious political journalism. It's talk radio on TV and it is unwatchable.

posted by holden at 04:52 PM on July 14

I don't get Telefutura and I'm in the Pittsburgh market, not some backwater. In fact, none of the U-20 games were broadcast in this area, nor were they mentioned on any tv station or newspaper that I saw. I did watch Copa, but that was on GolTV, not exactly mainstream being that it is a Spanish network (the games were broadcast in English though). Rabi, I agree there is a market for soccer in the US, but mainstream media is not responding. Outside of the World Cup, when was the last time ABC/CBS/NBC did any serious soccer coverage? Even the full hiring of Bradley was buried in the backs of the newspapers, if covered at all. That wasn't the case in the hiring of the Pittsburgh Steelers new coach. I've seen several reports that sets youth soccer as the fastest growing team sport in the US. I have even read some to opine that it is already the largest team sport in the US. If this is so, where is the coverage?

posted by FonGu at 05:03 PM on July 14

What surprised me was reading in the morning's paper that the Galaxy have had over 250,000 pre-orders for Beckham's jersey. By the way my paper, the San Jose Mercury News, had a big article on the front page of the sports section about today's Chelsea-Club America friendly up the road at Stanford and another sizable article inside about Beckham's arrival. In a market that the MLS powers that be thought was incapable of supporting a franchise yet can sell out (50,000 seats) a pre-season club friendly.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:28 PM on July 14

FonGu- I'm surprised Pittsburgh isn't big enough for at least one of the Telefutura channels. I think the u20 Cup is also being broadcast on- surprisingly enough- ESPNU. Another way to stay on top of US soccer news is by subscribing to the soccer RSS feeds from Yahoo! Sports and USA Today. ussoccer.com always has a schedule and a match tracker for every national game. But to the original question: I think media generally responds to a given market. I don't think the fact that mainstream media hasn't responded to soccer has hampered its development in the US. Objectively, US soccer has made great strides in the last 10 or 15 years. None of the progress came with mainstream media help; in fact, it came despite the tired Rome-like jibes. I live in Chicago, which is a big soccer market. Despite that, the local news rarely have anything to say about the Fire and never mention the national team. Even so, the Fire are in their own soccer-specific stadium and the national team played the Gold Cup final here in a sold-out Soldier Field. So, who really cares what dinosaurs like ESPN think? The real thing that hampers the development of US soccer is that there's not a good system for scouting players outside of the normal venues. You can be sure there are some great players out there who aren't getting looked at under the current system. Once that changes, the rest of the world will be playing for second place.

posted by rabi at 06:41 PM on July 14

Chicago has the Fire of the MLS, Pittsburgh has the Riverhounds of the A League. Fire play in a soccer specific stadium, Riverhounds play on a high school football field. I coached soccer in NC for many years and now live in a soccer wasteland. Columbus Crew is my closest club, and, outside of the box scores, there is no coverage of that. I stay on top of things thrugh the FIFA site, US Soccer, and a couple of RSS feeds, but nothing one would concider a major news outlet. I just don't see the "news" sites pushing soccer like they ram the NBA down our throats. Once the newness of Beckham rubs off, no major coverage will come from his presence. Only we "oddball" followers of "that communist sport" will follow and know what is happening on the pitch.

posted by FonGu at 07:16 PM on July 14

So, as a similar question, is the media, in particular ESPN, hampering the development of soccer in the USA? what pisses me off about ESPN is that they have a partnership with MLS and routinely show WNT friendlies. yet the talking heads (both on tv and the radio) continually bash the sport. granted, these guys are entitled to their opinions, but would it kill the network to promote the game a little more? maybe a weekly soccer show or something? What surprised me was reading in the morning's paper that the Galaxy have had over 250,000 pre-orders for Beckham's jersey. i walked into a Sports Authority yesterday looking for a Red Bulls t-shirt. no Red Bulls merchandise at all, but they had the new Beckham shirts for sale. and this store was 5 miles from Giants Stadium.

posted by goddam at 10:25 PM on July 14

I agree with holdens assessment of the Who's Now segment ESPN is doing. However, I found it inte resting that the only head-to-head so far that was close is Tomlinson beating Becks by only 0.8%. Hopefully this speaks to soccer picking up a little more of an audience here.

posted by Ricardo at 12:24 AM on July 15

What surprised me was reading in the morning's paper that the Galaxy have had over 250,000 pre-orders for Beckham's jersey. I wonder how many of those 250,000 Beckham shirts are headed overseas. I would guess significantly more than half of them. I just don't see the "news" sites pushing soccer like they ram the NBA down our throats. Once the newness of Beckham rubs off, no major coverage will come from his presence. In terms of U.S. media's coverage of soccer, part of the problem in my mind is that soccer in the U.S. is not the highest level of the sport. Every other major professional league we have (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) is the pinnacle of that sport, where the best players in the world largely come to play. Maybe soccer is just not conducive to the American sports viewing temperament, but I would be curious to see how it would take off in terms of fan interest and media coverage if we had EPL, La Liga or Serie A level talent playing here for a full year or two. Maybe an interim solution is more coverage of international soccer (both league and true international matches) on ESPN (or other non-subscription networks) to educate the public (and the talking heads and other news media) more about the game, sparking domestic interest, which could lead to more coverage of domestic soccer and perhaps better talent, leading to increased interest, resulting in... etc., etc. I'm sure the networks could take some time out of their poker coverage.

posted by holden at 08:58 AM on July 15

I coached soccer in NC for many years and now live in a soccer wasteland. Living in Florida, I'm baffled by how little soccer there is in the southeast. There's no MLS team east of Dallas or south of D.C., and it's probably the U.S. region least interested in the sport internationally. Beckham's arrival has certainly reawakened the proudly ignorant soccer hating fans and media in the U.S. The sport's been successful enough here to support three cable/satellite channels and put soccer-specific new stadiums in Dallas, Chicago and other cities, but we still hear over and over that nobody wants it here. Blasphemy. Whenever I hear a national sports media figure like Rome or the ESPN radio guys go on a tired soccer-will-never-succeed here rant, it just makes me wonder what else they don't know anything about. Do you think they know the credibility hit they're taking from soccer fans?

posted by rcade at 11:05 AM on July 15

MLS had two Florida franchises but both folded (as you probably remember, rcade). I think the league will come back if they can set up an arrangement like Chivas USA with a strong foreign parent. One issue for your state might also be that the Hispanic population tends to be more from the baseball-oriented Cuba, Venezuela and Puerto Rico and not Mexico and Central America as is the case further west. Outside of Florida I think the southeastern states will be about the hardest region for MLS to crack, unless a big money investor comes along with the idea of bringing the Charleston or Richmond of the USL up rather than starting an expansion squad from scratch.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:31 PM on July 15

Yep. Losing two Florida franchises should kill any idea of expansion here for the MLS for years, though there's a little talk about an Orlando team. My best hope is probably Atlanta, where the Falcons owner appears to be interested.

posted by rcade at 01:13 PM on July 15

Atlanta has recently built a brand new stadium for the Silverbacks (USL). While small by MLS standards right now, it was designed to be easily and quickly expanded in a couple of phases to bring it up to the required capacity. With the league almost mandating that any new teams will need a soccer specific venue, I'm still hopeful for Atlanta getting in on a future round of expansion (hopefully elevating the Silverbacks).

posted by trox at 01:26 PM on July 15

FonGu: Excellent post and follow-up comment. I think Beckham's celebrity status (and more players like him joining, altho I don't know of any soccer players that have his kind of beyond-sports media appeal) will make ESPN reconsider. In the US, I've realized that sports isn't just about sports or the business of sports. It's about cross-media celebrity. You can't just be LeBron James, NBA superstar. You have to be a rapper, star in your own movie, produce your own reality show, and sell, sell, sell. The rest of the world is catching up to what the US excels at (marketing -- read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash for a funny futuristic take that is more about the present). This is what the Galaxy is paying Beckham for, not his ball skillz. When other players of his international media-crossing appeal join the MLS, ESPN will probably wish they owned the league. I'm guessing a Mighty Ducks version of an MLS team might not be too far off. btw, not to derail, all of youse who're commenting or viewing this thread, have you joined the SpoFi EPL fantasy league 2007-2008 yet? Less than a month to go! Now, back to our regular scheduled programming ...

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:31 PM on July 15

Trox- I agree Atlanta would be a good expansion city. The Silverbacks have done a great job so far. The PDL team regularly beats and/or competes well against good college teams, the USL team has stability and the new (even if smallish) stadium is a great start. I think the population there that supports soccer could make it work. FonGu: I agree, good post and follow up comments that make sense. WorldCup2002 or anyone else: Where can I find a link to join the EPL fantasy? The links I can get to seem to be outdated and do not work and I would love to play in another soccer fantasy league. Thanks in advance for any info. Back to the second half start of the Copa final- enjoy...

posted by urall cloolis at 05:24 PM on July 15

EPL Fantasy League Code to join the SpoFi league is in the lockerroom thread linked by wc2002 above.

posted by squealy at 03:46 AM on July 16

What surprised me was reading in the morning's paper that the Galaxy have had over 250,000 pre-orders for Beckham's jersey. It's definitely on my shopping list, only because it's really nice looking. Maybe with a number other than Becks'. Of course, then I have to walk around advertising some MLM crap.

posted by yerfatma at 06:34 AM on July 16

It's definitely on my shopping list, only because it's really nice looking you really think so? i think it's a shame they did away with the green sash and went with a cookie cutter design. LA had one of the few unique jerseys in the league. i'm not a fan of the new badge either.

posted by goddam at 09:15 AM on July 16

Yeah, the adidas image doesn't do it justice; it looked nice at the press conference (I never saw the old one though):

posted by yerfatma at 10:28 AM on July 16

i've seen them in person, and the adidas image looks better. yeah, i get the whole "Galaxy" thing, but the badge is way too Star Trek. i don't like the template system the league has gone to. they take the same shirts you can get out of a catalogue, slap the team colors & logos on them and that's it. and it's not just MLS and adidas either. you see this everywhere now with most of the big sporting goods companies. nike and college football is probably the worst culprit.

posted by goddam at 10:50 AM on July 16

Agreed. College basketball and football suffer from the Follow That Guy disease wherein every "innovation" in uniform design is copied to 90% of the DI teams within 3 years (the first time I remember this happening was that dumbass shark-teeth treatment on basketball uniforms in the late 90s). I just like the damn color scheme, ok? Is that so wrong?

posted by yerfatma at 01:05 PM on July 16

no no. it's not wrong at all. hell, i root for an energy drink.

posted by goddam at 01:22 PM on July 16

I thought the design of the old Galaxy shirts was great, if not the colors. It looked like many of the Argentine league kits. Very classic.

posted by Ricardo at 01:36 PM on July 16

Herbalife? That's for pussies. I'd like to see a team with the Viagra brand on their jerseys.

posted by worldcup2002 at 02:59 PM on July 16

Beckham's arrival has certainly reawakened the proudly ignorant soccer hating fans and media in the U.S. The sport's been successful enough here to support three cable/satellite channels and put soccer-specific new stadiums in Dallas, Chicago and other cities, but we still hear over and over that nobody wants it here. Blasphemy. Thanks for the info there rcade, i'm surprised at how much there is going on in this country with soccer. However, it seems to me at least that soccer hasn't caught onto the US like the NBA or the NFL, so my question would be (and i intend no jerkishness), if most people aren't watching, then can we really say that soccer has caught on in the US? I mean it sure sounds like what's going on is progress in that direction, but technically aren't guys like Rome right when they say the US as a whole doesn't want it here?

posted by brainofdtrain at 04:49 PM on July 16

If your whole comment is that soccer is boring, please take it somewhere else.

posted by justgary at 04:55 PM on July 16

if most people aren't watching, then can we really say that soccer has caught on in the US? Didn't we just see some stats saying the recent league cup finals outdrew the NHL and NBA finals?

posted by yerfatma at 04:58 PM on July 16

Wow, that is interesting yerfatma. Maybe espn has skewed me. I didn't realize that it was doing that well, although both the NHL and NBA are struggling ratings-wise right now. Nonetheless, it is cool to see it progress. It would be nice to see that continue i think. Although i never played soccer after 4th grade, it intrgues me; i would like to understand it better, and more exposure would certainly help.

posted by brainofdtrain at 05:03 PM on July 16

That Galaxy shirt - soooooo Derby County a few years back.

posted by owlhouse at 05:35 PM on July 16

Soccer's failure to catch on in the US, it has little to do with the lack of coverage by mainstream media. Soccer fans have the high-minded tendency to look down at anyone who doesn't "appreciate" soccer (as opposed to many die hard NHL fans who don't care if the masses don't like/appreciate hockey as though it's their personal, secret treasure), but the reality is that the majority of American sports fans find it boring. The media has TRIED any number of times over the past ten years or so to force soccer down our throats. To be sure, if ESPN used the same blitzkrieg strategy that it uses with the NBA, apparent interest might increase somewhat, soccer is not, and never will be, an American game. As with all prior efforts to force-feed soccer to the masses, the hype over Mr. Beckham (and his desperately in need of a hot fudge sundae wife) will die out in short order -- particularly when wanna be fans and corporate types shell out hundreds of dollars for Galaxy tickets only to find that Mr. Beckham is off playing for his country in some international tournament. And, by the way, what sort of arrogance does it take for someone still to refer to the USA as "the colonies." The Brits lost the war over 2 1/4 CENTURIES ago. Time to move on.

posted by zddoodah at 06:03 PM on July 16

... if most people aren't watching, then can we really say that soccer has caught on in the US? I mean it sure sounds like what's going on is progress in that direction, but technically aren't guys like Rome right when they say the US as a whole doesn't want it here? Last year's World Cup averaged 2.6 million American viewers per game, up from 1 million four years earlier. This year's Concacaf Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico had an American audience more than 40 percent higher than the Stanley Cup -- including 2.8 million viewers of the Spanish language telecast. The World Cup final last year had a 7.0 rating on ABC, which is bigger than this year's Wimbledon final (3.2), the NBA Finals (6.2), and the Indy 500 (6.6). Anyone who says the U.S. doesn't want it here should either (a) say the same thing about tennis, the NBA and Indy car racing, or (b) realize that it isn't the '70s any more and soccer's starting to pull real numbers on TV here. ... the reality is that the majority of American sports fans find it boring. There's a chicken-egg thing going on here. For every soccer snob singing the praises of the beautiful game to American philistines, there's an American buffoon who slams soccer by presuming that his own lack of interest and knowledge in the sport is shared by everybody else. Personally, I've stopped caring about whether most American fans will discover soccer. I'm a late convert to the game myself. But it would be nice if people who could care less about soccer could demonstrate this disinterest by shutting up and moving on.

posted by rcade at 06:05 PM on July 16

"There's a chicken-egg thing going on here. For every soccer snob singing the praises of the beautiful game to American philistines, there's an American buffoon who slams soccer by presuming that his own lack of interest and knowledge in the sport is shared by everybody else." And my point is made. Why must anyone who finds soccer boring must necessarily be a "philistine" or a "buffoon" who lacks "interest and knowledge"? I, myself, have given soccer a try several times, but its interminable actionless periods, its players who recoil in apparent agony any time an opposing player has the audacity to graze his/her jersey in an effort to draw a foul, and its backwards secret timing system (to say nothing of urine bombs and rioting -- however atypical that might be) never cease to leave me disinterested. Certainly, the more coverage any sport receives, the more interest there will be in it (I'd certainly have a LOT more interested in biathlon, luge, women's softball, and archery if anyone put them on TV with regularity), but that's only true to a certain point, and the reality is that there's more than enough soccer coverage in the media to keep the majority of American sports fans satisfied. "it would be nice if people who could care less about soccer could demonstrate this disinterest by shutting up and moving on" The appropriate terminology is "couldn't care less," and we "buffoons" would be happy to "shut[] up and mov[e] on" if soccer fans would stop trying to shove their sport in our faces.

posted by zddoodah at 06:26 PM on July 16

How is the sport being shoved in your face? By getting media coverage? By being discussed here? This is one thread, just like every other thread on this site, and you're told right up front that it's about soccer. I'd say there's a better argument that you are shoving your displeasure with soccer into the faces of soccer fans, not the other way around. Your stated willingness to shut up and move on is looking like a pretty dubious claim.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 06:55 PM on July 16

Sort of off topic... I'm flicking around between the Red Sox game and this Victoria Beckham thing on NBC. She's fucking awful.

posted by jerseygirl at 07:16 PM on July 16

You seem to have missed my reference to "soccer snobs," Zdd. I'm aware that the pro-soccer and anti-soccer people in the U.S. both have their fair share of dolts. That's why I said it was chicken-egg. You think soccer's being shoved in your face; I think soccer bashers go out of their way to find discussions like this one.

posted by rcade at 07:54 PM on July 16

The appropriate terminology is "couldn't care less," Wow.

posted by yerfatma at 08:47 PM on July 16

The appropriate terminology is "couldn't care less," For someone so santimonious and condescending, you should make sure you are correct before pointing out someones "error". In fact, both phrases are correct and mean the same thing. One, the "couldn't '' version is British, and the other is American in origin. This information comes from Dictionary.com. Understand of course, that I'm not shoving this in your face, but merely attempting to inform some buffoons.

posted by tommytrump at 09:00 PM on July 16

Sort of off topic... I'm flicking around between the Red Sox game and this Victoria Beckham thing on NBC. She's fucking awful Yes. We secretly plotted to move her off the island onto the continent, but even Spain wasn't far enough away. So now she's "yours." You're welcome.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:00 AM on July 17

I am an avid sports fan myself. I watch hockey, baseball, football (US), basketball, and will watch the occasional tennis, curling, billiards, nude roller hockey, whatever, but nothing with the passion I have for soccer. Most of the stories on SpoFi don't interest me nearly as much as the soccer ones do so I almost never read those stories/posts. I cannot figure out why someone who doesn't have at least some kind of passion for the sport is even reading this much less wasting his or her time posting how horrible/boring/actionless the sport is.

posted by Ricardo at 07:27 AM on July 17

zddoodah, perhaps you'd like to tell us which sport doesn't have "interminable actionless periods"? American football, check. Baseball, check. Ice hockey, check. Golf, check. You get my drift. If you think any of the other sports I listed are all action, all of the time, you've never tried watching as a non-fan. Seriously, how likely is it that soccer would be the most popular spectator sport in the world if it was as bad as you claim?

posted by salmacis at 07:42 AM on July 17

Seriously, how likely is it that soccer would be the most popular spectator sport in the world if it was as bad as you claim? International Jewish Conspiracy. Think about it.

posted by yerfatma at 08:46 AM on July 17

Last year's World Cup averaged 2.6 million American viewers per game, up from 1 million four years earlier... those numbers are great and all. but i think the problem is selling Americans on their domestic league. i find that many of the soccer snobs are likely to be EPL fans or some other top league. many of them laugh off MLS because of the quality of play. even casual fans too. i've talked to plenty of people who just watch the world cup because they think MLS is boring. i don't how many people Beckham is going to convert who already think the sport isn't worth watching. but, with him and guys like Juan Pablo Angel in the league they may start getting the EPL-only type fans on board.

posted by goddam at 09:12 AM on July 17

In fact, both phrases are correct and mean the same thing. "Couldn't" is correct, but you colonial buffoons for some reason choose to go your own way, in the process making yourselves look foolish in the face of the rest of the English-speaking world. I wouldn't mind, but some of the more impressionable of our halfwits are starting to use your terminology (as well as hanging round on street corners pretending to be "gangstas" and demanding "respect") . It's just not cricket.

posted by squealy at 09:13 AM on July 17

Squealy seems right to me. I'd say what most people mean to say is "couldn't care less" meaning they already care as little as they possibly can. "could care less" IMPLIES they care very little, but not as little as they possibly could. Wouldn't it be much cooler if us colonials picked up more british vernacular. My boss is in Brentford UK and I love to hear her speak. They could use a different word for cigarette though.

posted by Ricardo at 09:28 AM on July 17

If you don't like our cigarettes, Ricardo, you'll also want to stay away from supermarket frozen food aisles.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 09:45 AM on July 17

DO NOT RE-FREEZE IF ALLOWED TO THAW. My wife is insistent on one side of the could/couldn't care less argument. Neither one causes people to stop and consider what you mean, so just work with it. I could care less, but I'm so disinterested in the matter I won't even make the effort to care even less.

posted by yerfatma at 09:49 AM on July 17

"could care less" IMPLIES they care very little, but not as little as they possibly could. you're missing the point. it means they care so very little about it that they don't even care enough to get the phrase right.

posted by goddam at 09:50 AM on July 17

They could use a different word for cigarette though How about 'cancer stick"?

posted by BornIcon at 09:56 AM on July 17

I wuz only joking. I could/couldn't care less myself. I believe cigarettes are referred to as "tabs" oop North. Also known as ciggies to some of our cutesier compatriots. Are those any better? Mmmm Brains Faggots in Sauce. *drools*

posted by squealy at 10:28 AM on July 17

See, this is why you should always use "give a (obscenity of your choice)." Since there is no literal meaning, "could" and "couldn't" both work. Problem solved.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 10:34 AM on July 17

That was a very agriculturist thing to say BornIcon. Don't bring your slanted views against an object because of it's plantable nature here.

posted by Ricardo at 11:20 AM on July 17

Don't bring your slanted views against an object because of it's plantable nature here. Excuse you? The next thing you'll say is that cigs can't/don't/won't give you cancer.

posted by BornIcon at 11:24 AM on July 17

I can tell you they don't give ME cancer. And I was just being silly.

posted by Ricardo at 11:44 AM on July 17

Everything gives you cancer. There's no cure, there's no answer. Joe Jackson

posted by tommytrump at 03:52 PM on July 17

On the take or not, that Shoeless Joe was some poet.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 05:16 PM on July 17

Thanks Mr B. I actually bought a packet of those in Tesco's just to keep the lid for a couple of Sydney friends of mine... They (the contents), were awful, by the way, squealy.

posted by owlhouse at 05:51 PM on July 17

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