Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oh, Gosh, A World Cup Post

Apparently, all the political bloggers are supposed to write something about the World Cup this week.  As you might have guessed if you're a regular reader, I'm a great believer in going along to get along, so whom am I to buck the trend?

Not that I have much to add: Jonathan Chait nailed it, as far as I'm concerned:
I don't really care if soccer becomes a major sport in the U.S. 
Chait gives it to both sides: the bashers, and what he calls the triumphalists.  He's right!  As at most a very minor fan, I don't care if soccer is considered a major sport or not, or whether it becomes one.  I don't care about any of the sports that, well, I don't care about: I don't pay much attention to NASCAR, or arena football, or tennis, or golf, or the NBA, and I don't care if they're on TV or not, or if people play them or not.  I care a lot about the health of baseball, but only to the extent that it affects me, as a fan -- so I want baseball to be healthy enough that I can watch games on TV, have access to plentiful information, and have plenty of great analysis available.  Beyond that...I really don't care whether baseball is the #1 sport, the #2 sport, or the #6 sport in America.  Why should I?  I root for the Giants to beat the Dodgers, not for MLB to beat the NBA.

It sure does seem to me that a lot of people do care about it.  I'm really not sure why.  Soccer isn't going to crowd out other sports...once upon a time, I suppose sports were competing for scarce newspaper space, but not any more.  Look, other than baseball, the sport I pay the most attention to is horse racing, and it's in sad shape indeed.  And yet there's more information available to me about racing than there was to my dad when he started playing the horses many decades ago.  I was able to watch Zenyatta's record-breaking win last weekend on my TV (I'm a bit lucky on that; Dish Network has room for both TVG and HRTV, which covers pretty much everything; many cable systems have one or neither, but I could always find the race somewhere online, if I didn't have that).  As far as I can tell, the Racing Form isn't going anywhere, and it's a much improved product over what I started using when I was a kid.  So even in what may be a dying sport, and is certainly a sport in decline, it's a great time to be a fan. 

As for baseball, the only disadvantages about being a baseball fan these days are functions of how popular it is: major league tickets are pricey, and in some places they're hard to come by.  Other than that, it's a golden age for baseball fans, no question. 

OK, I think that fulfills my obligation to say something about soccer.  Want more?  Alex Massie is good, and this piece on the same topic is excellent, especially the parts where he laughs at foolish things that Bill Simmons says.  And I'm enjoying my friend Steven Rubio's fan-perspective WC Blog


  1. People care about the extent of support for soccer for precisely the reasons you state here. We'd like to be able to regularly watch games and not have to purchase complicated packages to do so. We'd like to be able to chat with our friends about significant events and for them to have opinions. We'd like to be able to go to a bar and have the sport we want to watch on the TV. The World Cup is great because it's a time when friends that normally don't seem to care about my second favorite sport suddenly want to talk to me about it, or watch it with me.

    There's another factor, too. For those of us who care a lot about the success of the national team, we'd like to see top-quality athletes consider soccer to be a viable career path. We'd like to see them imagining themselves at the World Cup rather than the Super Bowl. Not quite the same as horse racing because I don't think horses have many other sporting opportunities.

    Finally, I'd really really love for the US to host the World Cup again. the chances of this happening are better if support in the country is higher.

  2. Great post. I prefer to define sport as something you do. Professional sport is entertainment, people sit and watch. By my definition, soccer, just like softball, are major sports in this country because of participation. All the noise is over the potential success of soccer as a source of entertainment, or more correctly, a source of income for some wealthy team owner.


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