July 20, 2004

Coming to America!: An interesting and positive piece about football in the US

posted by Pete to soccer at 08:10 AM - 6 comments

I'll be watching Man U v Milan and Chelsea v Milan in a few weeks in Jersey and Philly, and I can't wait.

posted by blarp at 09:35 AM on July 20, 2004

The famously rude health of the game at grassroots level - almost eight million Americans between six and 16 play competitively - means that the very demographic that the professional league needs to attract is often too busy playing matches at weekends for its parents to think about travelling to support a local team. The women's professional league went bust last year precisely because of that problem. How do other nations avoid this problem? Hell, other American sports have the same hassle. Work and school go pretty much Mon-Fri the world over, leaving the same two days for sports and fandom. Still, I'll be one of the faithful watching Champions World on FSW, just set a bunch of 'em up on Tivo last night.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2004

It's one of the first times I've read an accurate and non-condescending piece about American footy in the British press. Usually, they can't even get the name of the league right.

posted by salmacis at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2004

BTW, how do we avoid the problem of kids playing at the same time as the pros in England? In England, senior matches generally take place on Saturday afternoon. By senior, I mean adult men's leagues, from the Premiership, to the Football League, the Conference, the Southern League and all it's feeders like the Hellenic League. In other words, proper organised footy with organised clubs, barriers round the pitch, a printed programme and official linesmen. Any senior club is part of the league pyramid, and theoretically has a promotion route all the way to the Premiership. Adult recreational leagues take place on Sunday morning. All the horror stories you hear about Hackney Marshes, thuggery, referees being assaulted, players (and referees!) being hungover come from this level. It's still properly organised, with clubs and players affiliated to the FA, but linesmen are provded by the clubs. Interestingly, when Bradford Park Avenue went bankrupt and resigned from the Football League in (I think) 1962, a group of supporters kept the name alive by forming a recreational team with the same name and colours. Some years later, they decided to take things more seriously, and entered the senior ranks, at the lowest level. Childrens leagues take place on a Sunday afternoon.

posted by salmacis at 12:57 PM on July 20, 2004

My opinion remains the same. Footy in the states is popular but it mired by the circular logic of the all-powerful television executives. They are unwilling to give adequate coverage to a game with no logical breaks in the action in which to insert commercials. Then they claim that they don't give the sport air time because no one will watch.

posted by scully at 02:08 PM on July 20, 2004

Soccer is not televised in the USA as much not because of the lack of commercial space, the will run those as long segments during the action next to the score box, but because it frankly is not as popular as it needs to be to justify the time. Parents of the children who play the game grew up on the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL and prefer to watch those over soccer which means that's what the kids are watching also. Most Americans, myself included, don't understand the rules of the game. Some people also say that soccer just does not keep their interest because of the lack of action. In the US we like a lot of offense in our games and when you only have 5 or 6 combined shots on goal in 90 minutes that can make you lose interest in a hurry. While the game is catching on, I live in Columbus which is a charter MLS city, it still has a ton of room to grow before it can hang with American football and baseball. Soccer has a niche audience in this country, mostly in the suburbs, and needs people like Freddie Adu who garners media attention to help grow the sport here in other areas with people that don't traditionally watch the game. I wish soccer the best of luck but I can't forsee it ever catching on like the already established sports here in America.

posted by bluejacketsfan at 09:59 AM on July 21, 2004

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.