You’d have thought we were part of the British Commonwealth or lived on the Continent, eating paella, drinking Mahou (beer) while we watched our futbol contests.
But in the States we eat burgers, fries & burritos and wash it all down with Miller High Life, while we watch weekend baseball on FOX.
Not since hosting the World Cup (‘94) had the US market been so saturated with Euro soccer images as it had the past two weeks. The fact that Americans know about as much of Manchester United and Barcelona FC as they do the price of eggs in Bangkok did nothing to blunt the media blitz in preparation for the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium (London) and which aired live on FOX affiliates last Saturday.
That doesn’t mean this wasn’t excellent sporting fare. The few converts that happened to tune in were treated to one heckuva match. And why not? This rivalry goes back to the Spanish Armada, Edward de Vere (the real Shakespeare), and makes the Bears / Packers conflict look almost ‘fresh from the oven.’
As if there was much doubt before, now it’s crystal clear: the best soccer and the greatest player (Lionel Messi) currently reside in Spain (2010 World Cup) as Barcelona FC cruised to their fourth League title by besting Manchester, 3-1.
With globalization and worldwide monopolies it’s no surprise that sport cartels would jump on board the inter-continental bandwagon to cultivate new markets.
When the homegrown versions of soccer go bust (NASL) or fail to catch fire (MLS), bring in a ready-made, proven product: hello Euro ball. My big question: Don’t our neighbors to the south have soccer championships FOX could’ve televised?
But no matter, for whatever the hemisphere of origin, soccer will never go mainstream in America Norte.
Even with a growing, futbol-friendly Hispanic population, large foreign student presence and youth leagues nationwide, soccer has always been a stepchild in the American family of favorites: football, baseball, basketball and hockey (though baseball’s looking more and more like daddy’s little girl every time bunny-hop hysteria breaks-out after a GW hit (Marlon Byrd & Buster Posey notwithstanding)).
We Yanks are an impatient bunch. Whether it’s laying railroad track cross continent, digging a canal in a jungle, finding a cure for polio, putting a man on the Moon or tracking down a terrorist, we don’t like to wait.
Am I a sport protectionist? Hardly. I grew-up on a steady diet of Wide World of Sports, never missed an Olympics (until the greedmeisters ripped its heart out by way of professionalism), had an active childhood (including soccer) and have embraced the World Cup, due in part to a USA national team that’s come of age.
Since scoring in soccer is about as rare as a solar eclipse, players and fans need stores of endurance and patience to wait on that thrilling strike. But that’s just what most US fans won’t do: sit-tite for a net-finder. We like rock ’em, sock ’em action and lots o’ points.
It’s not easy getting today’s sport fan hooked on a new product (See; NFL Europe). They’ve got a lot on their plate already. So if you wanna’ get made into the family of American sports, that scoreboard better light-up fast & furious.
Message to the Suits & Skirts pushing Euro ball in the States: “The books are closed. We’re not accepting new members (A. Soprano)”
Keys to Sport
Note: Remembrance and gratitude on this Memorial Day to all those who’ve ever given life, limb or spirit in furtherance of freedom and hope.
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.