Kicking The Habit
OK…the title is a little disingenuous, since I never was a huge soccer fan in the first place, and there isn’t really any habit to kick. When my nieces were playing as kids, I never missed a game, but soccer hadn’t really arrived in the place and time of my youth, so I never really connected with it. Let’s just say that I couldn’t boycott soccer in any meaningful fashion, even if I wanted to.
Fast forward to today, and everyone is all a-twitter (pun intended) over certain members of the USA National Women’s Team, specifically about how unfairly they’ve been treated and how much they hate this country. While their behavior bothers me, I can’t manage to get too terribly upset over what, quite frankly, is a mosquito nipping at the hide of the behemoth which is pro sports in the United States.
You can yammer all you want about the growing popularity of soccer in this country, but Major League Soccer in the USA and Canada put fewer asses in seats per year (8,552,503) than AA Minor League Baseball (8,706,802). Of course there are other sources of revenue we can use to measure the economic value of a sport, such as television and corporate sponsorship for this overrated children’s game, but it still falls waaay behind the bigger professional sports leagues in this country. Major League Soccer brings in about 24% of what the NHL does, and about .07% of the NFL. Worldwide, they come in 16th in revenues, behind the Japanese J1 pro soccer league.
But I’m not here to argue the supply/demand/revenue/payroll issues that I’m told (every time I turn on the news) is such a big problem with women’s professional soccer. I’m here to say that I just don’t care, and judging by those attendance and revenue numbers, neither do most Americans. But I do care about of bunch of nobodies from a nothing sport telling me how awful this country is, all while enjoying the opportunity to make a living playing a game as an America-hating media eggs them on.
I guarantee you that although giving America the middle finger might score them some big sponsorships from Nike (noticing a theme here?) and get them some interviews with the aforementioned media, it isn’t winning them any new fans. It certainly isn’t going to win me over, as I can easily find something better to do than watch a bunch of whiny brats kick a ball…though I might have watched the final if not for the behavior of some of the players.
So let the children have their tantrum and force us all to look at them for a few days, but before too long the media circus will pack up their tents and move on. I already have.
Although I hate to make this a footnote, if all the women on the team behaved like Kelley O’Hara, I’d be much more inclined to support them. Her seemingly small act of picking the US flag up off of the ground where a teammate had dropped it carries a great deal of weight with me, and according to the internet, a lot of others as well. To Kelley O’Hara goes a very sincere congratulations and my thanks.