October 14, 2002

Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism (or Why soccer ain't big in America) [Amazon link].: While I've been tilting at windmills on SpoFi, attempting to raise interest in the beautiful game in this small corner of a yet un-futbol-fanatical land, one man published a book last year explaining why my quest shall ultimately be quixotic. Andy Markowits, big-time American sports fan, explains that it ain't coz US fans love high-scoring games or that soccer is just un-American (I'm paraphrasing a review by someone who actually read the book). It's all about the sports franchising system and the mass-marketing of sports. Looks like the soccerheads messed up big-time and let football, baseball, basketball and hockey get away with the goods. Anyone read this book? Agree? Disagree?

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 03:06 PM - 5 comments

I haven't read this book, but it just got put on my list. I think the idea of franchising and mass-marketing being the main cause of the current state of soccer is very interesting. I still hold out hope that my generation (I'm 25) will support the MLS as we grow older, turning it into a top-tier league.

posted by pfuller at 11:12 AM on October 15, 2002

Here's a link for an essay entitled "American Exceptionalism: Soccer and American Football" from the Centre for Research into Sport and Society (University of Leicester ). By the way, worldcup2002, keep on "tilting at windmills" here. Even though I don't always comment on your links (mostly because I lack soccer/footie knowledge), I appreciate your voice. Indeed, I have grown to expect your links, comments, and updates (re: SpoFi fantasy league).

posted by jacknose at 01:26 PM on October 15, 2002

Aw, shucks. ;-)

posted by worldcup2002 at 02:17 PM on October 15, 2002

btw, jacknose, thanks for the link. A good history lesson, which also provided nuggets such as these: "Although the structure of the game probably allows for less quantification than is the case in baseball, where the process has been taken to extremes - and in this way, suggests Guttmann (1978, p.219), football may be less modern than is baseball - it is nevertheless the case that football, like baseball, involves a relatively high degree of quantification, and this, it might be noted, appears to be not only a general index of modernity, but also a particular obsession with American sports fans. " and "It would, however, be quite wrong to imagine that soccer has never been played in the United States for, as we saw previously, the United States entered a team in the World Cup competition a full twenty years before England did so."

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:02 PM on October 15, 2002

Haven't read the book, but I don't think I buy the premise. I actually think American sport is going to undergo a massive transformation in the next 5-10 years, and we're seeing the beginnings of it now. The major sports teams (NFL and MLB really, of which NFL is far far ahead) are enormous beasts. They need a massive community of fans and taxpayer support to stay alive economically. Thus they can only survive in larger markets. Well those large markets only make up a certain percentage of the country, and there are tons of underserved markets that more niche sports can easily make their mark on. I'll take Columbus for example. The Crew sells ~17,000 tickets to every match, and the Columbus Bluejackets SELL OUT every game. No matter how good or bad the team is doing. There are dozens of Columbus's out there (Raleigh, for example). I think you're going to see the emergence of a stable fanbase for minor league baseball, MLS, WNBA, etc. in these markets. It doesn't matter if footie is never #1, just that it grows, gets better, and survives.

posted by elsoltano at 03:02 PM on October 15, 2002

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