The Internet of the sport

Here, read this, it's terrible.

Don't look at me like that. I got it via e-mail. I took the trouble to run two Google searches and follow three links just to avoid putting the thing up in its entirety. At least I'm handing out the link, right? I could have let the USMNT players' union go without extra traffic. I'm trying to help out here.

So David James, one of mankind's least reliable goalkeepers, talks about being slammed by television pundits. The response:

By the way, here's a partial list of what James did not mention in his Guarian blog post:

  • The Internet
  • Blogs
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Writing sentences with both nouns and verbs

The union's manifesto, basically, is filling in the blanks here on two of those topics.

Anyway, I've said fairly often that the Internet has proven indispensable for three types of people:

  • American soccer fans
  • Gay high school kids in small towns
  • Child pornographers

I'll fill in the blanks on at least one of those.

Since I am older than God's grandfather, I remember 1996. A Republican war hero Senator was about to be completely shat upon by the nation's electorate. Theorist and essayist Theodore Kaczynski was gaining international recognition. The Big XII Conference was established, leading to Texans everywhere crying out with joy, "Where the hell is Ames, Iowa?" An upstart soccer league destined to be known worldwide as The Major Soccer League kicked off in the soccer cathedral known as Spartan Stadium. And I didn't have the Internet yet.

Finding out information about American soccer back then truly sucked, my friends. I was completely dependent on Grahame L. Jones of the Los Angeles Times, a Liverpool fan who looked down on MLS and all its cheesy, childish works. (Wow. Not a lot has changed.) My only contact with US national team fans was through a little Sam's Army booklet called "Bookable Offense," which was published about as frequently as updates to the Koran. (I still remember their "Whatever Happened To...?" feature on Desmond Armstrong, the answer to which was a cruel, if Anglocentric, "Who gives a toss!" They were soldiers once, and young.)

And this was back when freaking teams didn't always have websites. Nowadays, supporters groups do. The NAS listserver and Soccer American Graffiti and, a couple of years later, this site...we've built an entire subculture, you and I, and that guy, and whatshisface, and him over there, the one with the face.

Would it have have happened anyway, without the Internet? Maybe. There were ways to advertise and organize before it came along, of course. But the task was made incomparably easier. Think Crew fans and Red Bull fans could have made the splashes they did with phone trees and mailed newsletters? Probably. Dedicated fans find a way. But those dedicated fans found each other a lot more quickly thanks to what Stephanie Miller calls the typewriter with the TV on it.

I'm surprised the US players union has such a feeble institutional memory that they'd want to go back to the days where their Copa America performance rated a paragraph or two in the "Miscellaneous Sports" section off the AP wire. No wonder Sunil thinks he can walk all over them.

...seriously, HOCKEY as an Internet sport? Yeah, the NHL was just sitting around for six or seven decades waiting for Al Gore to get on the stick. NOT.*

*Authentic 90's joke