Thursday, September 22, 2005

Long View

One thing that I always notice when reading Bigsoccer or other online message boards, is how fans are quick to rush to judgement. Not exactly a shock. But there was a great example of it the other day, when the U17's defeated North Korea. They did enough to win, but it wasn't a great preformance. Therefore, I got to read about how this team was awful, none of the players will make it, etc. And then the USA goes out and gets a dominating win over Italy, and you can guess the reactions. It's so funny to read this stuff, because I knew this would happen. I've seen it a million times.

It was only a few years ago that contraction occured, and MLS' existence was hanging in the balance. Now that the league's future is secure, the new issue seems to be how successful it's going to be, and how fast will we get there. As an American soccer fan, I understand the demands for overnight success. We have come a long way in the past 15 years. And in this country where over 60% of the people are overweight and credit card debt keeps rising, it's not really surprising that people want instant gratification. But it's just not realistic. Higher attendances and better quality of play won't come overnight.

In the past few years, the people behind soccer in this country have started to think long term. Finally they have realized that Americans are not suddenly going to become soccer fans, and that soccer fans will not necessarily become MLS fans. This is a long term process, and fans need to realize that too. The crowds at Pizza Hut Park, Pumas destroying DC United, or any one game for that matter: these things are not very important. Building stadiums, getting MLS profitable, and steady growth for the league and all American players is. I may be preaching to the choir here, but it's still important to think about this, at the very least for your own sanity as you read stuff online.

Comments on "Long View"


Blogger D said ... (8:37 AM, September 23, 2005) : 

I agree with this. I think I've argued before that the real moment when MLS will start to realize most of its potential is when it has generations of fans, a set of fans that grew up rooting for a team with their family. That'll provide links with teams that only time can provide. Unfortunately, that means waiting until about Season XVIII.


Blogger Mike H said ... (4:25 PM, September 23, 2005) : 

I must agree as well. I remember reading an article in a Dallas paper about how the league might not open the gates in 2002 (the season after the contraction). Now the Burn is FCD and they have their own park. Not a bad four years.

MLS does have a long way to go and they still seem a bit tone deaf at times, but they are past the point of 'will they survive' thus allowing them to grow the sport.

Add to this the recent upswing in things for the US Men's team and you have the making of a wonderful recipe.

I have long felt that, justifiably or not, the acceptance of MLS by Americans has a lot to do with the World Cup results of the national team. If things go well in Germany, look for interest to increase come next July.


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