Red Sox Fan hates watching soccer after Revolution loses MLS Championship

I received a letter from a disheartened Boston sports fan. In the past, he indicated that New England (Boston) could win up to possibly five championships this year. The Red Sox have already won the world series. The Patriots are a near shoe-in for the Superbowl (just saying that causes me to grimace being a Dolphins fan). The Celtics are doing very well. And the Boston Bruins (ice hockey) have a winning record (9-7-2) although they are currently ranked 19th in the league. But anything is possible.

If Boston were to win three championships, it would be trifecta and rarely done in major league sports. It would be a great moment for Boston. I thought that if they won four, it would be a quad-fecta, but I was corrected by a grammar nazi who said it would be a superfecta.

To win five, we’d have to include MLS (Major League Soccer) in which the MLS Cup would have to count.

If Boston won five championships? I think we’d have to invent a new word. I was all for “quinella“, but I’m probably misusing the word. I was thinking of contacting William Safire to let him know of this particular problem when the New England Revolution lost yesterday to the Houston Dynamo, making a 5-championship city impossible this year.

Here is part of the letter I received. Read it and see if you don’t think it pulls sports back to the dark ages, leaving our children and future generations wayward.

I think I did predict that the Revolution would win. But that’s only after you brought it up. And I think I prefaced it by saying that soccer cups shouldn’t count for total city championships because MLS has only 13 teams. Otherwise, we’d need to count the WNBA (14 teams) and Canadian football (8 teams) too.

It turns out that New England has THREE teams if you count the New Hampshire Phantoms and the Western Mass Pioneers in the United Soccer League. But let’s not stop the the level of recognizing that league too.

It turns out there are only 13 soccer teams in MLS and eight make the playoffs, so the law so averages says your team will win once a decade or so. What’s that about? That’s worse than hockey! The NE Revolution has been in the championship final three times in the past five years, so that’s pretty good.

Anyway, today is the first time in my life I’ve watched an entire televised soccer game. It’s one of the most excruciatingly boring sports to watch. It’s like watching someone else play pinball for two hours. I suppose I say that because I don’t understand all the defensive strategy going on. It’s a great sport to play, but to watch? … ugh! Even more annoying was hearing the announcers talk about the curse of Bambino and whether Babe Ruth liked soccer. They repeated that stupid joke about five times.

Huh? What’s wrong with pinball? Is he un-American? There was a time in our country when a statement like that could get you put in front of Senator McCarthy’s commission.

It’s okay that he don’t appreciate and understand soccer. First, he didn’t grow up playing it like a lot of kids. Conversely, I didn’t grow up playing little league - although I did go to my brother’s little league games which was probably the peak of my interest in baseball.

I find it odd that a guy who enjoys baseball would say that watching soccer is boring. Baseball is like watching paint dry, except with random moments of surprise - about 20-30 in a game, maybe. And they last for all of 15 seconds each. So, you have roughly seven minutes of action during an entire game which could last, theoretically, for days. No one uses a clock in baseball. They are illegal. Even for fans to wear wristwatches or carry iPhones. They’d be beaten by other fans if they accidentally looked at their watch. It’s very true. This is even more true in the minor leagues. You aren’t even allowed to look at the sun or notice the shifting in the stars. You get caught stargazing and you might as well have spit on the Ump.

Thus, it’s no surprise baseball is called a “pasttime” and not a sport. While there are indeed sporting elements about baseball, its mostly a giant chit-chat fest and a giant psyche-out tournament between the pitcher and the hitter. Everyone else sits around - except when the umps and managers argue about ridiculous school-girl type things - which once again proves that the “sporting” part of baseball is in short supply.

Now, I’m not trying to pick on baseball here; I’ve more than adequately smeared it in the past.

I’m trying to contrast that pasttime with soccer, the 2nd most watched sport in the world.

Soccer is constant motion.
Soccer is a solid 90+ minutes of play.
Children as young as 3 play organized soccer in America. It is very easy to understand.
The FIFA rule book is almost 1/3rd the size of the NFL Rulebook.

One of the biggest difficulties that US broadcasters have had in dealing with showing soccer games (from any league) is that there are no “time-outs” or organized spaces where advertisers can have commercial breaks. This is one of the big reasons that soccer is relegated to second-fiddle in the US.

That is certainly changing as advertisers make better use of television wipes and fades, as well as sponsorships. And they have good reason to do so. Did you know that Manchester United (the ‘big shot’ UK soccer team) is the richest professional sports team of ANY sport?

In 2004, Forbes magazine reported Manchester United was worth $1.2 billion and contrasted it to the Washington Redskins who were worth, at that time, $952 million.

Formula 1 is also the “richest sport in the world” (overall), and also the most watched sport in the world. And of course, like NASCAR and Indy, the races don’t stop for advertisers and commercial breaks. So, they find quick breaks when they can (and hope not to miss something). This is especially challenging in the US since US broadcasters only rebroadcast the live feed they get from F1 and hire their own commentators. Unlike other sports, they broadcasters don’t control the cameras.

All this to say that none of this has stopped the advertisers getting their message through and pumping in hundreds of millions of dollars to sports that are far more challenging to integrate with advertising than baseball, football, and basketball. Of course, all the major US leagues have advertising TV-spot ‘time-outs’ built-in to their sports by way of the design of the league in the first place because we are, after all, a capitalist country.

The number of teams is irrelevant. Formula 1 usually has about 10 teams each season (although it changes frequently).

What matters is whether or not there would be reason to consider something a “major league” sport. Clearly, in America, baseball, football, and NBA are all such - as are ice hockey and soccer. Just because the MLS soccer league is somewhat new (in contrast to the others), it is almost universally recognized as a major league sport in the United States. More youngsters play soccer than any other sport prior to high school.

Even though crowd and broadcast numbers aren’t nearly as high as other sports in the US, soccer has worldwide interest, and many of the MLS players go on to represent the US every 4 years in the Worldcup (the single largest sporting event outside of the Olympics).

Making references to women’s sports only damages the writer’s credibility further and makes me think that baseball may in fact be the only sport he has an understanding of at all. Nothing against women’s sports, but to think that the WNBA would ‘count’ for a city championship more than MLS is pure nonsense.

If you think about it, although I’m a huge NFL fan, I truly love other sports: soccer, Formula1, basketball, polo, rugby, ice hockey, cycling (Tour De France!), chess (yes, it’s a sport!), racquetball, skipping rock competitions, arm wrestling, replacement hard drive installation speed contests (w/o formatting of course), corn-on-the-cob eating contests, email spammer hunting, Iron Chef, girls field hockey (for all the immorally wrong reasons), Galaga (don’t deny it’s power!), and of course, swimming (but only contests across the English Channel and crazy Olympic diving-style contests which always remind me of Sea World).

In fact, the only sport I really don’t like is baseball.

I appreciate Golf. I fully recognize it is my lack of patience and maturity which will keep this from being a viable activity for me for approximately another 30 years. That’s on me.

I also appreciate tennis, but I feel there is too much domination of women and women-like men in this sport. I miss the days when McEnroe used to hurl racquets into the stadiums or break them over his knee. That’s competition. That’s passion. Now, instead, we have pretty boyz playing the sport who, although good, remind me more of GQ metrosexuals. I can’t watch that. I have a soul, right? Also, tennis is pretty much like ping pong and if I had a choice I’d definitely watch championship ping pong over tennis. It’s a brutal sport.

I think the only other “sport” I didn’t mention was that class of sports that exist only for the reason of pari-mutual wagering…. Jai-alai, dog racing, poker, and billiards. I won’t participate in those. Plus, everyone knows that racquetball, handball, and squash are far more dangerous than jai-alai. That’s just a big Jai-alai myth. It’s these same kinds of myths that keep professional wrestling and Ultimate Fighting clogging up television.

Also, ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Bridge is far more competitive and interesting than Poker. Don’t even get me started on this.

The bottom line is I think it is crucial that my young padawan learner from Boston stretches his power of observation (and perhaps participation) and to reach out with his feelings. The dark side of the sport is not soccer. Not even close. Come join us and together we will defeat the umpire, uh, I mean, emperor, and rule the galaxy!

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Too bad for that guy. It seems soccer hating is the cool thing to do for some people. A lot of people think it isn’t a very manly sport. They’ve obviously never played any semi-competitive soccer.

I find any sport rather boring to watch compared to soccer and ice hockey, with baseball probably being the most boring.

Great article!

I didn’t know that soccer wasn’t the most watched sport in the world. Where did you get that information from?

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