Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013



In most U.S. households, a sacred event occurs every night at 11:00 pm sharp.  That's when American males, aged 18-55, gather around the TV for their favorite television show: SPORTS-CENTER.  It's basically an hour-long news program dedicated to athletics.   Like CNN, they begin with the top headlines of the day.  Usually, this means football, basketball and baseball.  Lesser sports like hockey, golf and car racing are shown later in the broadcast.  But what about Soccer?  Well, it's hardly ever seen on the show.  It's no surprise...the least popular sport in America barely gets any coverage at all!

However...that is all changing!  Recently, men across America have noticed European soccer highlights creeping into their sacred SportsCenter broadcast.  As always, the news anchors start off with funny banter.  "Hey Stan!  Mind if I kick it?  Let's start with Arsenal!  Down 2-0 with ten minutes to go..."  They then show 15 to 20 seconds of exciting highlights...often enhanced with laser graphics.  What a difference! Soccer, once banned as too boring, is now included in every SportsCenter broadcast.  The English Premier and Spanish Leagues account for the majority of the coverage, with the BundesLiga and the Italian Primera Division also getting mention.

Why the sudden change?  C'mon!  This is America, and it's about Money ($$).  Recently, Walt Disney / ESPN Empire purchased the TV rights to upcoming events in Europe.  Specifically, they will air the next Champions League and the 2016 Euro-Cup...the two largest soccer tournaments in Europe.  Why? ESPN hope the Euro-Leagues have the moxie that American soccer lacks.  Americans need superstar, multi-millionaire  celebrities/athletes.  We want hunks like Cristiano Ronaldo!  Highlights from superstars like Lionel Messi are perfect for SPORTS-CENTER announcers to preen about.  Soccer & ESPN: A match made in heaven.

Not so fast.  Polls indicate otherwise.  A recent survey asked: Which sport do Americans like to watch on TV the most?  The results: Football (33%) Basketball (16%) and Baseball (13%) are still top dogs.  Soccer came in tenth at 2%!  That's behind Figure Skating, which got 3%.  However, there is one statistic that works well in soccer's favor.  Of the 41 million US kids who play organized sports, 17 million (42%) play soccer.  The future of American sports will definitely have more and more soccer.  GOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL!


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