Thursday, June 26, 2014

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! How can the USA dominate soccer?

Brazil gets it.
I'm sure the entirety of you are ALL-IN FOR TEAM USA, and know that they will take on the German squad today at noon. I'm also sure you know that the US team doesn't need to win this game to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. So here's to hoping that Portugal beats Ghana by a small margin and if the US loses, highly likely, it isn't by 4. Hooray!

Whenever the World Cup rolls around there are always some NOT-SO-HOT TAKES that range from "Soccer is going to take over the US sporting landscape" to "I like my football's oblong you fucking commie ball kickers". I imagine most of you fall closer to the latter than the former. You like your sports with hands and thumbs showcased because Dan Shaughnessy is your chosen leader of the old school. Baseball, basketball, and football will reign supreme forever in your minds. I don't agree with that, as I think baseball SUCKS and is fading fast, but that's not what this post is about.

How can soccer become a mainstream sport in the US? There isn't a single answer and I don't even think there is a plan to work it out. I think this is something that needs to happen organically with a little luck. Like, create as many youth soccer associations as you want, but if that buy-in doesn't continue into their teens then who really gives a fuck. How do we grow that buy-in? I have some ideas.

Find a way to coexist.  There are over 300 million people in this country, I can't see any reason that soccer can't coexist with the other leading sports and we can dominate the world in all things athletic. The worst thing that soccer fans or advocates can do is come in and try to directly compete and compare with the current US mainstays. You can't just show up and pick a fight with basketball and football because you will be obliterated. And the truth is soccer doesn't need to compete with them. Don't get me wrong, the idea of watching LeBron, Adrian Peterson, and Megatron just destroying motherfuckers out there gives me all the boners, but you aren't seeing guys like that being the best players in the world in soccer. Most of the Messi's, Ronaldo's, and Beckham's of the world aren't standing over 6'. How many awesome high school and college athletes are out there that couldn't make it big in their sport because they just didn't have the size? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Athletes are out there.

Develop a black superstar.

10 of those 13 athletes listed above are black, or at least half black if we are talking Tiger Woods. That obviously means something(other than the NBA is really fucking good at marketing its' players). Black kids, Latino kids, and white kids look up to black athletes. That's an indisputable fact. If soccer wants to take off then it needs to find its' black superstar. And not some fucking Freddy Adu-type 14 year old prodigy. A real star who has succeeded on an international level.

And I don't mean go into the hood and get all those kids on the street playing soccer. The athlete escaping from the hood storyline is played out and almost entirely false, as illustrated here. For every LeBron James there is a Michael Jordan and a Chris Paul. You want to be a professional athlete? Coming from an upper-middle, two parent home gives you much better odds than coming from the hood.

Become "pick-up" friendly. Growing up, I spent my time playing sports outside 90% of the time. Those other 10% were spent on Napster or looking up fatality codes for Mortal Kombat. Every single day, when the weather permitted, I would play basketball. I may not play a full game, I might even just be out there by myself, but I shot a basketball every single day. Hell, even on days when my driveway was covered in snow I would shovel that shit just so I could shoot some hoops. And I wasn't even fucking good. I mean, I'm good enough to play basketball and be competitive, but I never even tried out for a basketball team.

And if I wasn't playing basketball, I was playing football. Growing up the Good's side lot was host to the best backyard football games you could find. And it was the ultimate socioeconomic mix. The city law directors son was out there playing next to a kid who was locked up by the others dad. It didn't matter. We started calling people at 7 AM on Saturdays to get the game organized. If we could only get a few guys around we would play "Smash Football", a game we created in my backyard where the field was only stretched from the rose bushes to the sidewalk...or about 8 feet. That's where the real men showed up.

When I was in middle school I played street hockey all the time. We would shut down the street, drag out some goals that my dad got from the hardware store, and all the neighborhood kids would show up. I can't even count how many pucks we lost down the sewers at the end of the street.

The point is, I never ever ever ever played "pick-up" soccer. I'm pretty sure I never owned a soccer ball. Yes, I played soccer growing up, when I was maybe 5-8 years old. I never touched a soccer ball after that outside of gym class. I would be shocked if this isn't the experience of about 75% of guys my age. How in the fuck is the US supposed to put out a soccer team that can even sniff a World Cup Trophy with the majority of their potential players not even playing the sport when they turn 10? It's impossible.

So..... I don't know exactly how to make that happen. Like I said at the beginning, it's not a simple answer. I do think that there is going to be a slow migration of young athletes towards soccer, if only because less young people are interested in baseball and more parents are holding their kids out of football. I'm sure sometime in the next 5 years we will see those numbers bare out. But, that's a snails pace when it comes to catching up with the countries that year in and year out are World Cup contenders. So does the US Soccer Association(I assume there is such a thing) just need to go into every neighborhood and handout soccer balls? Do MLS teams need to start letting people under 12 into their games for free? Is it possible for billionaires to get involved with US soccer and bring over #ELITE talent? I don't know. But I think any of those things would be a great start.
No seriously. BRAZIL GETS IT.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think it's coming. There are way too many youth travel leagues and money behind the U.S. Soccer for it not to. A lot of Euro soccer people think the U.S. will be a major player sooner as opposed to later as well. A black superstar would definitely help.

--Drew

Mr. Ace said...

I agree it's going to happen, but when is sooner? 2018? 2022? 2030? And I don't know how much money and travel leagues matter. Those things can only do so much. There has to be a tipping point, maybe a black superstar would be that.

Grumpy said...

People have been making Drew's argument for years, with no real progress. Hell, a nation of over 300 million can't even produce a competent coach; we had to hire a German.

The problem with soccer is that many times watching paint dry is more exciting.

GMoney said...

Ah yes...football at the Good side yard that always ended with trying to throw footballs at passing cars. ELITE memory!

To be fair, and you know me as Samuel Q. Soccerhate, will this last? Obviously, the time of these games line up perfectly for Americans to devour without expending much effort. But what about four years from now in Russia when games are on at 3 am? 8 years from now with the dune coons? Will America still eat this shit up when everyone else is asleep? I have serious doubts about it.

So I'll just sit back and think that this uptick in interest is yet another fad that will get squashed in a month once the real men report to training camp.

Wiggins > US Soccer

GMoney said...

Oh and YES BRAZIL!

Oh again, if you love a good chortle, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog has been going around to different country's bars in NY this week and mocking the fans. You should find and watch those videos.

Anonymous said...

Grump's...I'd say hiring a Euro legend like their coach to build the whole program like they know how is a smart move. He's not just the coach....he's more like the CEO from the bottom to top.

--Drew

GMoney said...

LOL Ghana's two best players quit the team within the last few hours over concerns about getting paid by their country. THERE ARE YOUR BLACK GUYS, APE!

Anonymous said...

G$...does anyone in America watch international stuff when it's at shitty times? I doubt two Olympics ago, the men's basketball team was just crushing it when they were playing.

As I said before the WC....look at the football stadiums that sell out for MLS games in some cities....look at the money NBC and ESPN are throwing at soccer...guys like Dempsey making millions in the MLS. Now look at the ratings for this WC. There is definitely a strong uptick in interest in soccer in America....and I think it's mainly the younger people.

--Drew

Anonymous said...

My prediction is they lose today and don't advance. They blew their chance and I doubt can keep up with a German team that soccer people say is a juggernaut.

--Drew

GMoney said...

ELITE prediction, Drew. I will be grilling up some brats for lunch today in honor of my heritage.

I guess we will wait and see if this sticks. IMO this will forever be a niche sport. I don't care how many seats they sell in Portland and Seattle.

Mr. Ace said...

Drew, so you think Ghana beats Portugal and we get blown out? I'm not seeing it, especially is Ghana really loses a couple of its best players. And Portugal has too much ground to make up in goal differential. I can definitely see us getting rolled tho.

I can see it staying a niche sport for awhile, but within 20 years I think soccer will only be behind basketball and football. Again, I think something needs to change with how soccer is approached, and money and youth leagues can only do so much.

The old people who lived next to the Good lot really hated all kids and Goods. Fighting with them to get a ball back from over the fence was always a blast.

Anonymous said...

I think the time zone thing is huge for this World Cup. That is a big part of why it is so popular here right now.

I remember after the Olympics in 2010 when the U.S. made their run in hockey to the gold medal game, all the talk was about how hockey was going to explode here because of that. I think hockey has become more popular in recent years but it will also always be a niche sport as well.

Oh, and soccer fans are some of the worst people in the people in the world.

-Damman

Anonymous said...

Soccer fans likely own multiple editions of Now That's What I Call Music!

Soccer will never hit mainstream. The US has too short an attention span to appreciate 0-0 ties. And cheering for a guy who scores 10 times a year as a superstar.

Ide

Grumpy said...

Drew, I have no argument with Klinsman; I just don't see how we don't have a single coach who could do the same. It's kind of embarrassing.

Damman hit the nail on the head about soccer fans. If they could spread the gospel without being such snobs it would help.

Anonymous said...

Damman....while the hockey TV package is far from great. It's hard for me to look at the attendance (better than NBA) and salaries....and label it a "niche" sport.

--Drew

Mr. Ace said...

I think hockey is too limited by region/cost. I have no idea what the real data says, but I would assume almost all US hockey players come from the north/northeast. And it has to be ridiculously expensive to put your kid through a hockey program from k-12. I don't think it's a niche sport, but it's definitely not on the same level as the Big 3.

Soccer has an obvious advantage over hockey when it comes to availability and I think it will eventually take advantage of that.

Has anybody ever played soccer outside of gym class after the age of 9?

GMoney said...

That's a great point about futbol fans. They seem to lead the world in the logic of telling everyone how this is the most popular sport in the world while openly shunning those that are trying to learn the game/hop on the bandwagon. Hockey fans are the same way but not to that extent.

Mike and Mike are dropping some hot soccer takes this morning. SO MUCH RAIN!

Jeff said...

I agree with you that baseball seems to be losing its luster IMO, but there's so much money in the sport that it will be around forever. Hopefully when the next wave of "senior" baseball writers die off some changes can be made to freshen up the game. Shortening the regular season would be a start.

Soccer will never be huge in the US unless the best players in the world come and play in the MLS.

Anonymous said...

Drew, I consider hockey a niche sport (not to the extent of soccer) mainly because of the TV deal that you mention. The casual fan like myself can't find it on TV without combing through the guide and many don't even have the main channel (NBC Sports Channel) that the playoffs are on. When people are asking where they can find the playoff game tonight, that's a problem. Plus ESPN devotes zero time to it during the season and very limited time during the playoffs. No matter what you think of ESPN, when they don't cover your sport at all, your sport is a niche sport.

-Damman

GMoney said...

Damman, that sounds like something you might hear on The Herd. VISCERAL opinion!

People might not know where NBCSN is on their guide, but that is a pretty standard channel to get.

Mr. Ace said...

Damman, by your ESPN barometer soccer is not a niche sport then, correct?

Prime99 said...

I'm not sure why some people take Soccer as a personal attack on the other sports. Who gives a shit if it catches on? The World Cup is fun enough, but I admit I don't see myself getting into MLS or the Premier League. What's the harm in watching something without being a fan since BIRF?

The answer is, of course, the annoying, uppity "real" soccer fans being douchenozzels. They are worse than Ide once he realizes the indie band he likes is catching on in the mainstream.

There is nothing wrong with watching these ELITE AFFLETES go at it, but I do think the hate is from soccer fans either acting like you shouldn't like it or that it is the BEST. Stop with the extremes and let it grow. It will never beat Futbol Americano or Basquetbol though.

Grumpy said...

It also wouldn't hurt if you stopped forcing viewers to have a calculator on hand to figure out the time remaining.

Cakes said...

A BIG run by the US in this tournament would do wonders for the sport. However, aside from the world cup, I don't see people caring about the MLS or whatever other league there is out there. Americans just don't care. The patriotism of this tournament is whats driving the popularity. Not the sport itself. There's too much flopping and backwards passing for your average American to take seriously.

Once the Americans are eliminated, you won't hear a peep about soccer until the next world cup comes around. ESPN will try and make you care about the premier league at times but only baristas from Seattle will pay attention.

All that being said, USA! USA! USA! I will be rooting hard for us because I want to dominate the only sport the rest of the world cares about only to see it hit the backburner once the REAL football starts.

Windians

Mr. Ace said...

And I don't think it's fair to compare the MLS to any of the other professional leagues yet. The MLS is such a young organization compared to the others. So I think you're right about it fading away after this World Cup, but it will gain more traction with every WC. It's not going to be quick. But I think it will happen.

Cakes said...

I have to admit, I watched the whole Portugal game and was going crazy when we took the lead (alcohol helps). I was equally devasted when we gave up that tying goal with TEN FUCKING SECONDS left! It's exciting when the whole country is rooting for something. I'm caught up in it right now.

It won't last past the world cup but it's pretty fun to follow right now.

Anonymous said...

Ape, the ESPN argument was just one example in my niche sport statement. Obviously ESPN is shoving soccer down our throats.

T. Iceman said...

A lot of good hot TAEKS going on today. I agree with Cakes. That sentence nauseates me. Anyway...One of the biggest things that turns people off to the NBA is all the flopping that goes on. Where do you think that came from? The international players that grew up with soccer as the number one sport brought it over. That's where. The demographic soccer is chasing in the US already hates flopping. Good luck trying to turn them on to a sport that is 70% flopping.

I also agree with Damman. If that US Olympic hockey run did hardly anything for American hockey popularity, I don't see a deep US soccer run this year contributing to the popularity of soccer in the US. There's even less action in soccer than there is in hockey.

Lastly, I think Ide nailed it. To keep Americans involves they need to be entertained with constant action. As a whole, we don't appreciate sports that are more chess like than American Gladiator like. It's just our culture. We crave action and soccer has none. I really don't give a shit if soccer becomes popular or doesn't. I just don't see it happening. Too many negative variables.

Anonymous said...

John Glick was the greatest soccer coach of all time and Woods Auto Supply was the greatest team of all time. This is not up for debate.

-Damman

Jeff said...

Fleshlight creator wants back in the running for MSMOTY.

http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/fleshlight-finally-made-an-ipad-case-that-you-can-fuck-1596444299/+kylenw

Mr. Ace said...

Ok, so the majority of you think it won't catch on. Fair enough. Do you think there is anything that could happen that would make it catch on?

Jeff, that's a great find. And that guy is a great man.

GMoney said...

That Fleshlight story is the best news of the day. I wonder if Steve Shubin can buy the Cavs.

Don't forget that the Draft is way more important than futbol.

Soccer fans are the same people constantly crying about the Redskins name AKA hippie douche bags. Fuck 'em. You may make good points/support and OK product but you are insufferable and deserve to lose.

Unfortunately, Woods Auto could never beat Rogliatti's Sports Center. It had a lot to do with Hoffman wearing goalie gloves as an 8 year old. Tool.

GMoney said...

I'm going to watch this while trying to take a nap. Pretty sure that I could kick Clit Dumpsey's ass.

Anonymous said...

The Hulkster was firing up USA for the World Cup. What do you make of that?

Prime99 said...

The white noise soccer brings to the living room is perfect for a nap. Extremely relaxing.

GMoney said...

The Hulkster is a shell of a man these days. He might as well marry Kris Jenner.

Anonymous said...

Prime....what if there are those vuvuzuelas?

G$....The Hulkster comment is hilarious and spot on. He sucks these days.

--Drew

Cakes said...

So the US is basically in right? If my twitter feed is to be believed, even if the US loses 1-0, Portugal would have to lose by 5 goals or something absurd like that. As long as we don't Cleveland the fuck out of the 2nd half, I have a knockout game to look forward to.

Best tweet of the day so far. "If the US wins today, where will Germany run off to hide? They're already playing the game in South America" That's WWII GOLD!

Prime99 said...

Drool- they banned vuvuzelas this WC so it is still fantastic. With them, it would not be as relaxing and potentially awful.

GMoney said...

Sorry, guys, just woke up from my soccer coma. It looks like the turd fans are pumped about a loss in which "we" barely did anything. Makes sense.

Sounds like Maple Jordan is going to go #1 tonight. I won't believe until they announce it.