MLS Fans: Not as Bright as we Thought

Having wasted countless hundreds (thousands) of hours of my life lounging around the soccer-centric regions of the interweb in the virtual company of thousands of soccer fans, beginning with the late, lamented SAG and successors straight on to our own beloved BigSoccer (WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE A STORE OF SOME KIND) (subtlety is my greatest strength as a writer) I have come to believe that American soccer fans are, on the whole, a pretty bright bunch.

(I'm not going to make some pro-forma swipe at the intelligence of the average baseball or football fan here. It's cheap and gratuitous and anyway, some of them like, for example, Steelers fans, have no discernible intelligence anyway.)

Yesterday this illusion was hopelessly shattered when, thanks to the incompetence of Time Warner Northeast Ohio I was unable to follow the MLS Draft (you know, the SUPER one), and in trying to get through to them I spent a good deal of time on hold ("Hey! It's that lunatic again! Who wants him this time?") and as a result caught up on some reading.

I believe it was during my third expedition into the realm of TWC's phone tree ("If you'd like to plant an explosive device in our headquarters building, say YES.......I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. If you'd like to plant an.....") when I got around to the January 5-11 issue of SportsBusiness Journal.

There, in an extensive spread covering two entire pages was an article that laid bare the ugly truth that a goodly number of MLS fans are complete morons.

The article was headed "MLS SPONSOR LOYALTY DATA" and consisted of the results of two surveys which identified respondents as either "Avid" or "Casual" fans of the league based on how many games they watch per season, how often they look up scores, whether they have a favorite team, etc.

They then asked the respondents a series of questions about MLS sponsors and, honestly, if I were one of them I'd be on the phone to Don Garber today seeing if I could get a refund.

To the question "Which of the following is an official sponsor of MLS", Coca Cola was the runaway winner with 33% of supposedly "avid" fans voting in favor of the brown drain cleaner. Pepsi got 19%, Sierra Mist 15% and 17% didn't know.

Coca-Cola? Excuse me? Those bastards haven't given Major League Soccer the time of day while Pepsi signed on in 1996 and, although they switched the branding to Sierra Mist in 2004, still kick in about $300,000 a year and are the league's #1 TV sponsor. (Interesting minutiae: Sierra Mist is not sold in Canada, so the ASG in Toronto last year was the 2008 Pepsi MLS All Star Game. Not that half the fans noticed)

They did much better in the Sports/Energy Drink category, with 36% and 20% correctly identifying Gatorade and Red Bull, respectively, as league sponsors.

Then again, when the only other choices are Powerade (13%) and Don't Know (20%) it's not exactly rocket surgery.

They managed to get beer right as well, with 31% knowing that Anheuser Busch is an MLS sponsor, but a discouraging number of respondents felt that Coors (14%), Miller (10%). Corona (12%) or Heineken (10%) support the league.

Possibly the most depressing result came when supposedly "avid" MLS fans were asked who the league automotive sponsor is and a solid majority replied that it is Ford, apparently having not noticed that in addition to DC United's uniforms, dasher boards with VW splattered all over them are omnipresent in MLS stadiums.

Still VW did come in second, although 10% were sure GM/Chevrolet are on board with the league and a delusional 9% said it was Chrysler. A whopping 27% had no Earthly idea.

I won't go into all of the rest, it's too depressing, but I would like to point out to the 33% of you who are certain that FedEx is the Official MLS Shipping sponsor that MLS doesn't HAVE an official shipping sponsor. Trick question, I know, but please.

And to the 25% of you people who claim to be bigtime fans of Major League Soccer but who told the surveyors that it was "not at all important to be aware of which companies are official sponsors of MLS?" I'd like to ask: What the hell were you thinking?

I'd like to stuff you in a Ford filled with Coke, pour a couple gallons of MGD down your gullet and shove you off a cliff.