An Open Letter To The American Sports Media


After a weekend full of media coverage of the arrival of Team Beckham (a nice round up of which can be found at That's On Point) I can safely say that a lot of columnists and talking heads don't care about soccer. And if you don't, that's fine. The problem here is your insistence on letting us know how little you care.

I understand that I missed the pseudo-soccer-boom of the late 1970s, where "they" tried to convince America that it was The Next Big Thing. And I also understand that it happened again in 1994 when the U.S. hosted the World Cup. What I don't understand is your insistence that it will never happen, that soccer will never matter in America. Soccer doesn't have to win you over to succeed in the United States, in fact, it's doing very well.

The Los Angeles Times' Bill Plaschke took the lack of "buzz" in Southern California as proof that this is all a waste of our time. Plaschke fails to mention how very little in the L.A. sports world (outside of the Lakers and Kobe) creates any "buzz" without a playoff run. He is also a bit generous with the word "dude" and includes a quote from entertainment blogger "Perez Hilton", who to my understanding in one of the top soccer journalists in the country. What Plaschke doesn't understand is that the jaded, L.A. transplant might not be talking soccer, but what about the huge Latin-American population that can support not one, but two MLS teams. That's pretty impressive when you consider that Los Angeles can't support a single NFL team. Plaschke downplays the importance of Beckham's arrival to the U.S. and to the MLS, but you can count on him being there to cover his first game for the L.A. Times. And of course, for him to tell us how little the whole thing mattered to him and to America.

Plaschke's Around The Horn cohort and all-around pleasant guy, Jay Mariotti isn’t impressed either. He's seen it before, and wants the American public to know that we're all being brain washed by the "American Idol"-loving, Anglo-centric media. And he somehow, as only Jay can, ties this all back to Michael Jordan. Well done. Where Plaschke can’t find the “buzz,” or where Beckham has been over the last few months (Dude, he was busy winning La Liga), Mariotti is insisting that it's all hype. That's right Jay, "they" are trying to trick us all. It's all one big long con that's been going on since the days of Pele and the Cosmos. This Beckham character can’t play at all, and once they get us watching this soccer we’re all going to look like fools.

Plaschke, Mariotti, and anyone else who has mailed in yet another "America Doesn't Care About Soccer" column are using the same, tired arguments over and over again. Soccer can't possibly be as boring to you, American Sports Media, as these articles are to us.

So many of you have such ridiculous go-to arguments: "We've seen this all before." Have you? I don't believe soccer has ever been this popular in America, and its popularity is still growing. But in your defense, many sports writers have the rare ability to see into the future. "We have our own football." Umm, we also have soccer. This isn't a one-or-the-other type situation. You can have both. Just because Beckham has arrived in America doesn't mean anyone is taking away your nine hours of NFL Live per day. "It's a boring sport, and America just doesn't 'get' it." Just because you can't follow a game doesn't mean it's "boring" and no one else "gets" it. Auto racing is a "sport" in which a few dozen cars turn left for several hours. But you trash soccer as "boring" or "low scoring.” Anyone catch the score of that last NASCAR race? You know what? I find auto racing to be one of the most boring things on the planet, but I don't let it frighten me. I don't bitch about "getting" it. I don't talk about how it will never be as big as football or baseball. I just don't watch it. It's pretty simple.

We've seen these arguments so many times, American Sports Media. But this time, you've brought out what might possibly be my favorite of all: "Beckham will not save soccer." To be honest, and it might be that I'm not on the middle-aged-white-guy e-mail list, but I didn't know that soccer needed saving. Is an entire sport at risk for going under? If Beckham isn't a roaring success in the MLS will the we be forced to sell off our soccer posts as scrap metal? In fact, I was under the impression that soccer and the MLS were doing fine in the United States. Major League Soccer has proven itself to be a stable league, far superior to the NASL to which you consistently compare it. In fact it just keeps expanding. In addition to that, just recently, some of the younger American soccer stars showed us a glimpse of the future in the Under-20 World Cup. That Freddy Adu kid (yeah, he's only 18) that you wrote off on the basis that you simply hadn't heard his name around the water cooler in a while, yeah, he's doing fine. Soccer is doing fine. And us soccer fans are doing alright too.

In fact, the only real problem we face, is you, American Sports Media. We're just fine watching soccer, even if you're not fine with us watching soccer. You don't like soccer. We get it. You don't seem to care if we watch football, or baseball, or basketball, or even hockey (a lot of us have no problem following soccer and “American” sports - GASP!), but for some reason anyone caring about soccer seems to get to you. Personally, I don't understand it. Why must you try to one-up each other in this Battle of Who Could Care Less? What happens if, in some crazy and unlikely twist, that Beckham does "sell" soccer to America? Is that the end of the America as we know it? Will the terrorists finally win? Probably not, considering this is just a game and all.

To your credit, your often miserly and bitter observation that Beckham won’t get America crazy about soccer is probably right. It’s not about selling soccer to America, it’s about bringing attention to the MLS. But if you were to tell people that watching soccer might bring us closer to finally seeing Jim Rome's head explode, well then, we might just have a full-blown soccer frenzy on our hands.

3 Responses to “An Open Letter To The American Sports Media”

  1. # Blogger Melby

    I'd like to second the motion proposed by the commenter on "That's On Point" regarding Mariotti. At this point, at least half his readers must be perusing the Sun Times with vein-popping rage. We should all just boycott anything he writes and maybe he will shrivel up and disappear.

    Idealistic, I know. But a girl's gotta dream.

    Then again, his unintentional comedic value on Around the Horn is sky rocketing.  

  2. # Blogger Rusty

    enough of this soccer bullshit, lets see those titties.  

  3. # Blogger Melby

    hello? where are you guys? no comments on vick? no comments on the nba gambling thing? no comments on the comments being made about either? come on dudes. it's summer, and i'm bored.  

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