Sir Alex on growth in America

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by Fort Rapid, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. SoccerKowboy

    SoccerKowboy BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Alright, it seems like a couple of posters are reading a different article than the one posted. I believe Fergie's point is that the growth and success of a young sport at a professional level is dependent on nurturing regional rivalries. And because of the size of the U.S., these rivalries are not able to develop because fans can't/won't/don't travel well. Can we agree on that?

    I disagree with Fergie. But I'm not going to restart that argument.

    I will say this, though: there are several factors that work against soccer's success in the U.S. to a much greater degree than those mentioned in the article. IMHO, the most important one by far: Americans like their sports (and music, and politics, incidentally) in quick, easily digestible instances; i.e. a down in football, a pitch sequence in baseball, a possession in basketball. Sports like hockey, lacrosse, and soccer don't have the predictable stops in action; a fan has to understand the flow of the game, and pay attention continuously, or risk missing an important piece of action. Why is this true? That's a whole different thread/forum/website.

    Of course we Americans also tend to like games with a reasonable amount of scoring as well (rules changes in the NFL and NBA tend to favor more scoring instead of less). But that argument will certainly not win me any friends on this site, I'm sure.

    And on a personal note, jfranz, instead of namecalling, how about posting a clear point, and some statements that support it?
  2. CBusCrew12

    CBusCrew12 Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    That would be very interesting, having 4 seperate, but equal, leagues divided up regionally. It would certainly create a lot of great rivalries, along with being cost effective in terms of traveling. I imagine these leagues would be fairly small, 10-12 teams max and that's if they're lucky. If it was possible to do, they would of course have to have a champions league type tournment involving the 4 leagues, which sounds like it would be amazing. It would be an unparalled event in this country. It's all easier said than done, of course. Finding enough teams around the country is challenging enough, let alone enough for 4 seperate, but equal, leagues. Plus. doesn't FIFA having something against having more than one top flight per country?
  3. bigdoug

    bigdoug New Member

    Apr 8, 2005
    Seems like there is a good LA/DC rivalry based solely on DC winning two titles against them. In the NFL, the Cowboys and the Eagles hate each other because they've played each other a lot, often in big games. With stadiums only holding so many people, many fans watched them on TV. Sir Alex's view puts too much emphasis on travel.

    As for the rest of it, some of what you say is true. I found my first DCU games exhausting to watch (in person) because there wasn't the usual rhythm of breaks every few seconds. Once I got adjusted to it, the pace was exciting and I began to find NFL games fairly slow. Ninety minutes to play the first half?

    Another aspect of this: A low-scoring baseball game can be mesmorizing (as can a 1-0 hockey game) if it's played well, there's a lot on the line, and you've got a dog in the fight. You can see that in the movie "Major League." The final act is a single playoff game for the pennant, lowly underdog Indians vs. the hated Yankees. It's low scoring, very few hits, great defensive plays, and comes down to a sacrifice bunt with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win it 3-2.

    It's a fictional example, but that game really captures baseball at its best (the final play and the celebration are as good a sports moment as you'll see on film). And it proves that Americans can handle subtle sports and low scores. They just haven't caught on that soccer is like that. Too many games are pretty meaningless playoff wise, and most people don't have a dog in the fight. It will take some time to change that mentality.

    MJ-inBRITAIN Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I laughed when I saw this article as I knew it'd be dissected word for word here.

    I did take something away from it though, it will be increasingly be important for good American talent to stay there. The USA will get ONE CHANCE to have a league that doesn't become a "feeder" league.

    It's one of the few non-euro countries that foreign stars will want to come even though the paycheck might be smaller. If a critical mass of crowds and talent appears then we can build a league that could rival Brazil and Argentina. But if most American talent leaves then I think you will always have this problem of American fans preferring European teams to our own.
  5. scotchex

    scotchex New Member

    Mar 24, 2007
    Ferguson makes fair points, but it's clear he doesn't quite understand how America works. As many have pointed out, some of the biggest rivalries are across huge geographic distances. Skins-Cowboys, Lakers-Celtics, etc. And even what we consider local rivalries (Yanks-Sox, Cubs-Cards) are 4-5 hour drives, without traffic. Most europeans have difficulty grasping just how big the US is -- it's always bigger than they think.

    Sure, local college rivalries are extremely intense. The Ohio State - Michigan game is huge ... but not if you are a Floridian or Californian with no ties to the Midwest. The Virginia-Virginia Tech game is big ... in Virginia. Each individual college team has a much smaller, if more intense, fanbase than an equivalent pro team. Of course, even in-state rivals are often 3-5 hours away.

    TV ratings wise the most important thing is to have the biggest media markets possible in the game. And if they are from different regions that's usually better, since it can interest a wider swath of the country. East coast vs West coast, Midwest vs Northeast, etc.

    National TV, cheap air travel, and modern celebrity have changed how sports leagues work. I also think non-Americans often underestimate how far flung our families can be. I have relatives in California, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Tennessee ... and that's just off the top of my head.

    An interesting source for looking at the sports landscape is the CommonCensus sports maps here.
  6. bigdoug

    bigdoug New Member

    Apr 8, 2005
    I don't think anyone really disputes that. It's a face most MLS fans are painfully aware of. Until you get critical masses, it's something we need to live with.

    It took most of the leagues here decades to reach critical mass on the professional level. Just need to be patient.
  7. MintyDude

    MintyDude Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    This is one of my favorite elements of the game. When you're at an away match, you're REALLY away. Everyone hates you.

    I think that's what makes our soccer unique.
  8. ossieend

    ossieend New Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    derby u.k.
    So, a fair few of you are saying your big American rivalries are often over huge distances.
    What causes these rivalries?
    I can see how ours work. eg. I'll work with and socialise in the same places as Forest fans. Even as a fairly mature bloke who doesn't go in for fan fighting I know there's an awful lot of piss-taking to be done over the results of our games with each other and indeed other teams.
  9. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    When talking pro sports it is Playoffs where U.S. sporting culture gets its teams you love to hate concept. I'm from Houston and the two names that I associate with hate are Pittsburgh and Utah. Between the three of us that is a massive range of the lower 48 in location and culture.
    What can and does happen in our sporting culture is the in State rival or nearest city rival is exactly the team that you hardly ever play. This is the lay of the land for pro gridiron and pro baseball. This is due to our tradition in these two leagues of having a dual Conference/League structure. Often not geographic in thought as EAST vs WEST in our MLS, NBA and NHL but a set up where us in Houston play hated Dallas in the NFL just once every 4 years. So a Texas Derby in professional gridiron is on a near World Cup schedule.

    Back in the 80' 90's a teams fans could wait 8 even 10 season to get a shot at their local rival. Thus the closest team you could travel to is often the team that you and your buddies never got to travel to! Yes, our league head honchos are that odd in the U.S.
    I will tell you that at the University level this kind of thinking is done in reverse. You always know you will face your nearest rival each and every season and those rivals also happen to be your conference and often in State rival on top of that. Thus the end result is a fixture list in college sports that delivers on well established rivalries that will be played out each season.
  10. ossieend

    ossieend New Member

    Apr 3, 2005
    derby u.k.
    Thanks very illuminating, but I was wondering why for instance the Cowboys/Eagles rivalry? Why would fans from Philly and Dallas hate each other so much?
  11. MJ-inBRITAIN

    MJ-inBRITAIN Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Nottingham, UK
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think CalTex's example is unusual. The Cowboys/Eagles rivalry is similar to the Chiefs/Raiders in the NFL. It's about familiarity(2 games/yr), the fact that the owners hate each other which boils down the players who have perpuated it, which boils down to the fans. For Raiders/Chiefs it's also differences in Culture (real or imagined) between the two teams and cities, from the anything goes California biker community versus the good upstanding midwestern church-going patriots.

    We hate the raiders and they hate us.

    Living in Nottingham I understand the Derby/Forest thing (is it a Scab thing like Sheffield/Forest?). But it's just different.
  12. Cliff Racer

    Cliff Racer New Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    Harrisburg, Pa.
    Philly and Dallas are both storied programs that play in the same conference so beating each other is important if they want to reach the playoffs. Also Dallas has an annoying and supposedly national fan-base so a lot of people dislike "America's team."
  13. scotchex

    scotchex New Member

    Mar 24, 2007
    Well, the NFC East has the NY Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins. To get to the playoffs you have to go through your divisional rivals. So that's the main reason. If the Cowboys have a good year, it's at the expense of the Eagles, Skins, and Giants.

    Plus Philly is pretty famous for having the most hooligan-esque fans. So, divisional rivals, plus occasional stories of visiting fans getting beat up in Philly.

    Dallas also called themselves America's Team for a while. So everybody else hated them for that.
  14. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Essential to understanding U.S. sports culture from afar is the above truth.

    On one hand was the general media backing/acceptance of going out of their way to call a city's ball club like Dallas, 'America's Team', when said team goes out each and every Sunday in the Fall to beat...another U.S. city's ball club. Very odd.
    But there is the excuse of those that believe in "America's team'. They will offer the blue and gray colors, big star on the helmet and ledgenday players and coaches from Tom Landry to Roger Staubach and up to Emmit Smith. To them the moniker fits.
    To a Houston lifer it makes us sick. No way a city can speak for a nation. If anything that moniker would be at the least fit for Philadelphia, ya know, where our Declaration of Independence was signed and home of the Eagles.

    It has also hurt the U.S. sporting culture in that the concept of having a true National Football Team, regardless if it is rugby code, gridiron code or association football code...our national media has never turned the corner in that line of thinking and called our U.S. soccer team what it is. Our National Footbal Team. Thus, a cheesedick concept like the Dallas Cowboys being 'America's Team' for pro football is not only tolerated but allowed to grow over the years.

    The only sports fans that dislike Cowboys fans more than Philly fans are us in Houston. But this is pro soccer so we got them as we won MLS Cup '06 on Dallas's home ground. Back to the Scotsman in charge of Team Satan, SAF shoulda seen home many travelling supporters we had up there that day. We had 9 buses fully loaded and a shitload of cars. Probably 8,000 traveled that day to Pizza Hut Park. Now named Robertson Stadium North.
  15. MannieG

    MannieG Member+

    Nov 30, 2006
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Gee. I didn't know that the Pink Heffers were from Cali.
  16. FC Zanarkand Abes!

    Aug 13, 2007
    Resurgens Atlanta FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    fixed your post :D
  17. dundee9

    dundee9 Member

    Jan 13, 2007
    football(soccer) is getting popular in the states but I think it has more to do with the amount of english premiership games on TV. MLS is still considered a mickey mouse league...not so much because of the talent level...more to do with the idiotic name branding ..wizards, rapids, fire, galaxy etc etc

    the NFL and college football are underway now though. I see that soccer audience shrinking.

    think mls would be wise to start their season a little earliar to avoid competing with the nfl?
  18. Cliff Racer

    Cliff Racer New Member

    Jul 30, 2007
    Harrisburg, Pa.
    Yeah Atlanta to Vancouver sure would be an easy match for away fans to visit...
  19. xTottixCorex

    xTottixCorex New Member

    Nov 12, 2006

    i guess pulling off a miracle(winning the SPL with FU$KING ABERDEEN) gives you the right to be a jerkoff:rolleyes:
  20. Eleven Bravo

    Eleven Bravo Member+

    Atlanta United
    United States
    Jul 3, 2004
    Atlanta Silverbacks
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Where he said MLS should be divided into 4 different conferences:

    Let me tell you my dream for MLS:

    1. Four Conferences (Central, West, South, North) made up of 12 teams in each.
    2. Spring/Fall Schedule. (Jan-Jun...break Jun-Jul...Jul-Nov)
    3. First Stage is the Regional Phase where to qualify for the 2nd Stage the top four advance to first division (premier league), the next four go to 2nd division (classic league), and bottom four go to third division (minor league).
    4. Divide the minor league into east/west, and top four from each group qualify for the playoffs.
    5. SSS & Youth Academies would have to be in effect. And also, the amount of foreign players allowed would have to be increased.

    Western Conference:
    ^1. Los Angeles Galaxy
    ^2. Colorado Rapids
    ^3. San Jose Earthquakes
    ^4. Real Salt Lake
    >5. Chivas USA
    >6. Seattle Sounders
    >7. Portland Timbers
    >8. Vancouver Whitecaps
    <9. California Victory
    <10. Las Vegas (expansion)
    <11. San Diego (expansion)
    <12. Phoenix (expansion)

    potential expansion/2nd Div-Sacramento, Riverside, Albuquerque, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Tucson, Fresno, Boise, Hawaii

    Central Conference:
    ^1. Kansas City Wizards
    ^2. Columbus Crew
    ^3. Chicago Fire
    ^4. Toronto FC
    >5. Minnesota Thunder
    >6. Cincinnati Kings
    >7. Saint Louis (expansion)
    >8. Cleveland (expansion)
    <9. Milwaukee (expansion)
    <10. Indianapolis (expansion)
    <11. Tulsa (expansion)
    <12. Detroit (expansion)

    potential expansion/2nd Division-Oklahoma City, Louisville, Omaha, Des Moines, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Saskatoon, Sioux City

    Northern Conference:
    ^1. New York Red Bulls
    ^2. New England Revolution
    ^3. Montreal Impact
    ^4. D.C. United
    >5. Rochester Rhinos
    >6. New Hampshire Phantoms
    >7. Western Mass Pioneers
    >8. Harrisburg City Islanders
    <9. Philadelphia (expansion)
    <10. Pittsburgh (expansion)
    <11. New York City (expansion)
    <12. Baltimore (expansion)

    potential expansion/2nd Div-Providence, Buffalo, Syracuse, Hartford, Quebec City, Halifax, St. Catherine's, Bridgeport, Albany, Allentown, Vermont, Portland-Maine, Delaware

    Southern Conference:
    ^1. FC Dallas
    ^2. Houston Dynamo
    ^3. Atlanta Silverbacks
    ^4. Charleston Battery
    >5. Carolina Railhawks
    >6. Miami FC
    >7. Puerto Rico Islanders
    >8. Richmond Kickers
    <9. Charlotte Eagles
    <10. Virginia Beach Mariners (expansion)
    <11. San Antonio (expansion)
    <12. Tampa Bay (expansion)

    potential expansion/2nd Div-Bermuda Hogges, Jacksonville, Orlando, El Paso, Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Worth, Austin, New Orleans, Greensboro

    Premier League
    1. Los Angeles Galaxy
    2. Colorado Rapids
    3. San Jose Earthquakes
    4. Real Salt Lake
    5. Kansas City Wizards
    6. Columbus Crew
    7. Toronto FC
    8. Chicago Fire
    9. New York Red Bulls
    10. New England Revolution
    11. Montreal Impact
    12. D.C. United
    13. FC Dallas
    14. Houston Dynamo
    15. Charleston Battery
    16. Atlanta Silverbacks

    Classic League
    1. Chivas USA
    2. Seattle Sounders
    3. Portland Timbers
    4. Vancouver Whitecaps
    5. Minnesota Thunder
    6. Cincinnati Kings
    7. Saint Louis
    8. Cleveland
    9. Rochester Rhinos
    10. New Hampshire Phantoms
    11. Western Mass Pioneers
    12. Harrisburg City Islanders
    13. Richmond Kickers
    14. Puerto Rico Islanders
    15. Miami FC
    16. Carolina Railhawks

    Minor League
    1. Las Vegas
    2. Phoenix
    3. San Diego
    4. California Victory
    5. Milwaukee
    6. Indianapolis
    7. Tulsa
    8. Detroit

    1. Philadelphia
    2. Pittsburgh
    3. New York City
    4. Baltimore
    5. Charlotte Eagles
    6. Virginia Beach Mariners
    7. San Antonio
    8. Tampa Bay
  21. FC Zanarkand Abes!

    Aug 13, 2007
    Resurgens Atlanta FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    But conveniently not as far away as the Chivas China matches! :p
  22. akindele12

    akindele12 Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    Silver Spring, MD


    Sep 30, 1999
    You are correct. NFL games and college football games sell out in towns that don't draw above about 15,000 fans most of the time for their MLS soccer games.
  24. Wangy

    Wangy New Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    I think dividing MLS into 4 confernences once we get enough clubs probably won't be a bad idea. Lets say that at some point, MLS has 32 teams. Once that happens, we can create 4 regional conferneces of 8 teams, with no "inter-league" play, just like how baseball used to be not so long ago.

    All 8 teams in each conference will play its conference rivals twice in a typical "home-away" fashion. That would take us to the mid-season mark. At that time, top 3 or 4 teams from each conference will make it to the playoffs, where each team will engage with a team from another conference in a playoff series.
  25. CBusCrew12

    CBusCrew12 Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    8 teams seems like such a small number. 14 match seasons? Kind of short.

    I hate playoff serieses in basketball, hockey, and baseball. I would much rather have it be the normal group stage format. Top 2 teams from each in two, 4 team groups. Top two from each go on where Group 1 winner would meet Group 2 runner-up, etc. in a 2 legged semi-final.

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