Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Soccer, not that popular

Wherein this might be as good as it gets


I'm a huge soccer fan. I've played for about 30 years, I'll be hanging out in bars watching the World Cup, and I probably spend more time on Fox Sports World watching soccer than I spend on any other network. However, last night has convinced me that soccer has probably grown as popular as it ever will.

Not that I ever expected it to reach the level of baseball/basketball/football; nor did I ever think it needed to, though a hockey-like level of acceptance would have been nice. As it is, as far as public acceptance goes, it's barely a third-rate sport. What's interesting about this is that the U.S. can still compete on an international level and talentwise is only going to get better. But I'm resigned to the fact that when the U.S. finally wins the World Cup no one will be watching.

I watched a couple of high school games last night, a girls/boys varsity doubleheader. Here's where it gets depressing. Soccer is very popular around here. Multiple leagues, youth camps starting at age 3, fields everywhere, traveling teams year round; a very competitive and nurturing environment. The three local high schools all draw from the same talent pool and all are competitive. In fact, for the school we watched last night both boy's and girl's teams have won their regional divisions, with the boys ranked number 2 in the state and the girls ranked number 1 in the state. And the girls are even ranked number 2 in the country. It also happened to be senior night. Take all that into account and I doubt the crowd numbered much more than 100.

One hundred people. If two phenomenally talented teams in a soccer friendly environment can't do much better than immediate family and a couple of friends, soccer has peaked. This makes me depressed.

7 Comments:

Blogger Pooh said...

I remember a debate I had with some friends several years ago about which American athlete would have been the best soccer player had they chosen that route. I think the final 2 came down to Allen Iverson or Gary Payton.

4/19/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Interesting you mention basketball players. I think one of the biggest disadvantages the men's national team has is that, for the most part, they're short. Great athletes, but short in stature. It's depressing watching them play someone like Germany and it looks like a team of midgets.

4/20/2006 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Pooh said...

Yes, that is why we lost in 2002. We played them off the park, but they kept flopping around the box, getting free kicks and lobbing balls into the area. And of course their one quality player (Ballack has always been a favorite of mine, too bad ManU won't sign him til he's 34 or so...) heads in the winner.

4/20/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Soccer has been the game of choice of my bio family from back when it was uncool.

I, myself, played back in the '70s and was actually approached about trying to integrate a public school team, LOL: I chose the wrestling managing instead. Good choice.

My brother was being scouted for a college scholarship, when he was forced my medical necessity to have major back surgery--spinal fusion--effectively ending that opportunity.

I agree with you, Bill, I think it's peaked--and I'd argue not just recently.

To add something inane to the conversation:

Back in high school, I decided that soccer players (the male ones, that is) had the best legs.

Thirty years later, I pretty much feel the same way.

4/20/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Oh, the memories ...

4/20/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

My first yearin high school was the inaugural soccer season at that school. It took them two more years to start a girl's program. I played organized soccer for 2 years before I ever saw a real game (I think "Soccer Made in Germany" broadcast on PBS once a week).

I've never thought it was necessary for soccer to be huge, but I would like MSL to be a bit more popular and was sad when the women's pro league folded. Actually, I'd settle for the National Team not to have most of the crowd cheering against them during home games.

Watching the girls team the other night, it was amazing how skilled they were - ball control, speed, power, field presence - I was in awe.

They have a goalie who is at least 5'10" maybe 6'. Great hands and booted the ball way past midfield. They subbed in the backup for the last 15 minutes and she switched to forward with one assist and a goal. Freaky good and the way she pounded on anyone who tried to mark her, I'm guessing she's a star on the basketball court as well. And she's only a sophomore.

4/20/2006 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Sid said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/04/2006 12:40:00 PM  

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