Saturday, June 19, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a game, a mob scene in England that came to be called, "Football." It grew into other variations, which also go by the same name. Overbearing fans often insist that their variation is the only one worthy of the designation, but all are legitimate descendants of the original free-for-all. Association football went on to become known as, "The Beautiful Game." It needs a makeover. There are problems everywhere.

1. On the field: Good spectator sports have high drama, winning traditions, displays of mastery, comebacks and heroic last stands. Soccer might be beautiful, but nothing happens. The offsides rule, somnambulant players, defense oriented strategy and flopping all combine to make soccer boring. At least when you watch paint dry, there is a slight change in color and texture.

Here are some scores from The 2010 FIFA World Cup:

Uruguay vs. France
Ivory Coast vs. Portugal

Both games were 0-0.

South Africa vs. Mexico
England vs. USA
Italy vs. Paraguay
New Zealand vs. Slovakia

All 1-1.

USA vs. Slovenia 2-2.

2. Around the field: Watch an American Football game filmed at any time in the last 40 years. You're right in the action. If you watch the NFL in person, you see cameras everywhere. Every angle is covered. The NFL boasts the highest production values, and other American sports aren't far behind.
Soccer takes its motto from an old Chrysler campaign: Suddenly it's 1960! One camera sits high above the cheap seats. The viewer sees ants run around on a green surface.

3. Off the field: Soccer is bankrupting itself. It has gone further than baseball and the NFL in bleeding its audience dry. While one could argue that those willing to pay any price for a nonessential deserve to do just that, it has come at the expense of mass appeal. Bankruptcies are happening across the sports world. Core audiences do not have unlimited budgets. It might be too late to win back the masses, who don't know and don't care.

It's been a long time since the maracanazo.

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