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(EITB24)   Beckham bringing frustration rather than revolution, Ferguson says   (eitb24.com) divider line 36
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723 clicks; posted to Sports » on 05 Sep 2007 at 11:28 AM (7 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2007-09-05 11:51:33 AM  
TFA: Ferguson said the sheer size of the U.S. prevents the intense rivalries between fans that he feels make soccer exciting.

Nonsense. For one thing, intense fan rivalries are hardly a unique strength of soccer. They are common to every sport, especially those with long histories.

Second, North America is full of intense rivalries, despite its size:
Yankees-Red Sox
Leafs-Habs
Packers-Bears
Steelers-Browns
Red Wings-Avs
Eagles-Cowboys
Rangers-Isles
Yankees-Mets
Bruins-Habs
Oilers-Flames

And that's just a few I can think of. I think there are many more at the college level, but I'm not a fan of college sports, so I can't really speak to that.

But the idea that you can't have strong team rivalries in North America because of its size is ridiculous. Maybe fans don't travel quite as much, but they still hate each other.
 
2007-09-05 11:52:57 AM  
MLS needs to change its mindset and adopt promotion and relegation. This sort of grassroots growth is what will fuel soccer's popularity in the United States, not some top-down star power. That failed with the NASL before, so I don't see why they're trying it again.

If anyone else watched the US Open Cup games last night, you'd see that there really is a decent second tier of soccer here in the USL (relative to the MLS tier, mind you). Two USL teams, the Seattle Sounders and the Carolina Railhawks, were in the semifinals and both had hard fought battles which they ultimately lost, though the officiating in both games was atrocious and possibly slanted against the USL teams.

Anyway, if promotion and relegation is adopted, some of these teams will get their acts together and acquire stadiums that the MSL requires. Once that happens, the doors will be flung wide open for anyone in the states to play professional soccer and that is how we'll quickly grow into a true world power.
 
2007-09-05 11:53:27 AM  
Cards-Cubs
Michigan-Appalachia ;)
 
2007-09-05 11:56:22 AM  
Doc Daneeka: TFA: Ferguson said the sheer size of the U.S. prevents the intense rivalries between fans that he feels make soccer exciting.

Nonsense. For one thing, intense fan rivalries are hardly a unique strength of soccer. They are common to every sport, especially those with long histories.


That is the key here. No intense soccer rivalries exist because soccer is not popular at the professional level (yet), and has had only short runs in its existence. It *will* happen, but it just takes time.
 
2007-09-05 11:57:40 AM  
Kuta: MLS needs to change its mindset and adopt promotion and relegation. This sort of grassroots growth is what will fuel soccer's popularity in the United States, not some top-down star power. That failed with the NASL before, so I don't see why they're trying it again.

If anyone else watched the US Open Cup games last night, you'd see that there really is a decent second tier of soccer here in the USL (relative to the MLS tier, mind you). Two USL teams, the Seattle Sounders and the Carolina Railhawks, were in the semifinals and both had hard fought battles which they ultimately lost, though the officiating in both games was atrocious and possibly slanted against the USL teams.

Anyway, if promotion and relegation is adopted, some of these teams will get their acts together and acquire stadiums that the MSL requires. Once that happens, the doors will be flung wide open for anyone in the states to play professional soccer and that is how we'll quickly grow into a true world power.


I think a big problem with that, though, and why relegation won't fly in the US, is that a lot of these stadium deals rely so heavily on massive infusions of tax dollars. And it's going to be damn near impossible to get that tax money if there's a chance that the team you're building it for could be a minor league team at some point.

And then add on TV contracts. What network wants to pay so much for rights when, say, a team from New York could end up in the minor leagues, replaced in the premiere league by a team from, say, Des Moines?

I mean, I don't know enough about how it works in the European leagues to know how much of an issue this would be, but it would definitely come up.
 
2007-09-05 12:00:27 PM  
Doc Daneeka: TFA: Ferguson said the sheer size of the U.S. prevents the intense rivalries between fans that he feels make soccer exciting.

Nonsense. For one thing, intense fan rivalries are hardly a unique strength of soccer. They are common to every sport, especially those with long histories.

Second, North America is full of intense rivalries, despite its size:
Yankees-Red Sox
Leafs-Habs
Packers-Bears
Steelers-Browns
Red Wings-Avs
Eagles-Cowboys
Rangers-Isles
Yankees-Mets
Bruins-Habs
Oilers-Flames


Eagles-Redskins is usually considered to be a bigger rivarly. than again any NFC East matchup is a rivaly game, since they moved the Cardinals
 
2007-09-05 12:15:40 PM  
Actually, I'd say 'Skins-Cowboys is the biggest in the NFC East for so many reasons. Giants-Cowboys and 'Skins-Eagles are probably pretty close. But yeah, NFC East is pretty much all intense rivalries.
 
2007-09-05 12:16:22 PM  
how is this ironic?
 
2007-09-05 12:18:00 PM  
I think a key difference here that Fergie should have articulated in terms of football rivalries, is that beyond proximity, some of these rivalries are like nothing that exists in the US because of cultural or even sectarian undercurrents.

For example, the Celtic v. Rangers Old Firm derby in Glasgow was not just a match, but served as a metaphor for playing out the sectarian Catholic and Protestant religious strife that plagued the culture for centuries...and that gets in to some serious shiat.
 
2007-09-05 12:19:26 PM  
Doc Daneeka:

Second, North America is full of intense rivalries, despite its size:
Yankees-Red Sox
Leafs-Habs
Packers-Bears
Steelers-Browns
Red Wings-Avs
Eagles-Cowboys
Rangers-Isles
Yankees-Mets
Bruins-Habs
Oilers-Flames


And not one of these even comes close to the level of Arsenal-Tottenham or Man Utd-Liverpool.
 
2007-09-05 12:19:57 PM  
jake_lex: And then add on TV contracts. What network wants to pay so much for rights when, say, a team from New York could end up in the minor leagues, replaced in the premiere league by a team from, say, Des Moines?

I mean, I don't know enough about how it works in the European leagues to know how much of an issue this would be, but it would definitely come up.


Well, who wants to see a sucky team from New York play anyway? If they're not on TV, then go see them in the stands and give your $$$ directly to the team.

This is the thing I think is potentially cool about soccer in the U.S. It is so very small right now that it should grow organically. I think too many people are trying to fit it into the model of huge professional sports now. Think back 50-70 years and these mega stadia did not exist except in a couple locations. For example,there is nothing wrong with a San Francisco soccer team playing at Kezar. Why not let these teams negotiate with municipalities and universities to share time on their fields until they've grown large enough to support their own stadium?

True, since the television contracts do exist, the league is well within its rights to make sure that any stadium meets minimum requirements for a proper broadcast, but that shouldn't be a significant hurdle because most major metro areas have those places already.

Perhaps it is still a bit early for relegation since there are only 13 MLS teams, but I don't want to see the sport atrophy at the professional level because teams get locked into a comfort zone and become leeches on the system. (Yeah, I'm looking at you Bill Bidwell). The time to systematize it is now.
 
2007-09-05 12:26:22 PM  
Hebalo:And not one of these even comes close to the level of Arsenal-Tottenham or Man Utd-Liverpool.

Yankees-Red Sox
Yankees-Mets
NY Giants-Eagles
NY Giants-Redskins
Rangers-Isles
Knicks-Celtics

Right, that's because here in the states we have MULTIPLE sports and levels of sport (collegiate) to follow, not just a single team in which someone can invest significant portions of their identity.

Besides, the UK doesn't have a monopoly on hooliganism. They just have a single outlet for their violent and criminal urges. We get ours out in other ways.
 
2007-09-05 12:29:17 PM  
Hebalo: And not one of these even comes close to the level of Arsenal-Tottenham or Man Utd-Liverpool.

Uh-huh.

Yankees-Sox, Leafs-Habs, and several others are just as old and bitter as your little soccer rivalries.

And as for intensity, I'd like to see you wear a Cowboys or Redskins jersey to an Eagles home game. After you get out of the hospital, you can tell me all about how they don't measure up to English soccer rivalries.
 
2007-09-05 12:41:46 PM  
It is all going to take time. One British star is not going to solve things. Fergie is right about our young stars leaving and playing in Europe, but can you blame them?

I agree with above posts about grassroots movement. It seems like MLS is trying to market to non-soccer fans. That is why this whole Beckham thing is backfiring. He's hurt and people bought tickets just to see him. Now you look at Blanco in Chicago, and from the games I've seen he is drawing more hispanics to his games. Not a big star that the regular public would know, but hispanics and people who follow US soccer would know about.

I love soccer. I would love for it to grow in America, but its going to take years for it to be big at all.
 
2007-09-05 12:51:10 PM  
MLS doesn't have bitter rivalries because the people who watch it aren't watching it because they're passionate about the product, they're passionate about soccer/football/futbol/dandydarts in general,and are supporting the MLS because they want it to succeed in America.

From my limited knowledge of the MLS, Revs vs United is the closest thing to a real rivalry, and it's awfully good natured. It can't become a real rivalry until A)One side has something to taunt the other about and B) The fans care enough about those particular teams, that a loss is met with actual frustration, as opposed to "Oh, good game, we'll get them next time."

All in all though,I think the MLS is doing it right, and if soccer's ever going to succeed in the US and Canada, it'll be them.
 
2007-09-05 12:55:52 PM  
Those of you saying that any sports rivalry in the US measures up to certain soccer rivalries, I really think you may change your mind if you do some studying. I do not recall any Red Sox fans killing any Yankees fans over the rivalry, maybe I am wrong. I believe the routineness and intensity of the rivalries in Europe greatly outweighs what I have ever seen in the US. Imagine not being able to wear a the visiting teams colors or apparel and sit in the middle of the other teams fans, in fact being prohibited from doing it by the police, because it would be likely to incite a riot or endanger your life. One posted mentioned a Cowboys or Redskins jersey at an Eagles home game, but I'm not sure I have ever heard of any trouble along these lines and I definitely know this is not the norm. Certainly not what I routinely hear of at soccer matches in Europe.
 
2007-09-05 01:00:37 PM  
You guys are forgetting college athletics, which inspires far more passion then most professional rivalries. Granted, Europe has a history of hooliganism that US sports doesn't, but for the most part that was an isolated period in history, with its peak long past gone now. Plus, a lot of what inspires violence at European football matches is racism, nationalism (which wouldn't really apply when American teams are playing each other...it does when USA faces Mexico though), and religion. The soccer club is just a convenient thing to wrap your hatred in for these folk, and that's not something we should try to emulate.

As far as Beckham, I think it's a perfect storm of media ignorance:

* The people who think ankle injuries are minor. These people have likely never played a sport, and for one reason or another don't really care about how well the Galaxy or Beckham plays. These are people who find Beckham attractive enough to watch soccer just for him.
* The LA Galaxy and MLS PR departments for counting on Beckham to not only play every day immediately, but totally own the league when he does. He is at least, doing the latter. Based on the next point, it's pretty obvious that was foolish of them - ankle injury or not.
* Here's the big one; the overwhelming majority of American sports fans have no farking clue that Beckham just finished an entire season in La Liga before coming here. They probably assume that soccer plays during the same season everywhere, so he looks like a gaping vagina, instead of somebody who just finished an NFL season (w/ playoffs) and then hopped to a bad team in a better version of the AFL.
* One player does not a league make, but MLS youth does need to go to Europe so our players will be better prepared for international play. Soccer viewership spikes in the US during the World Cup, and if we were to stick around past the group stage more consistently, maybe that interest will linger.
* The Beckham rule has led to some good players coming over and helping their clubs, the problem is they are getting zero press. No one knows who Juan Pablo Angel is, for instance.
* Mismanagement and injuries to the Galaxy will probably keep them out of the playoffs (which are stupid anyway in MLS), so for the entire postseason, there will be no Beckham.

As far as promotion and relegation, MLS fanbases are too small and weak right now. If a team was relegated, it may return to the big leagues to find out half of its fans have moved on. Relegation is a bad idea for MLS right now. For college football (and basketball) however, it would be awesome. I'm looking at you, App State.
 
2007-09-05 01:08:04 PM  
tdpatriots12: You guys are forgetting college athletics, which inspires far more passion then most professional rivalries. Granted, Europe has a history of hooliganism that US sports doesn't, but for the most part that was an isolated period in history, with its peak long past gone now. Plus, a lot of what inspires violence at European football matches is racism, nationalism (which wouldn't really apply when American teams are playing each other...it does when USA faces Mexico though), and religion. The soccer club is just a convenient thing to wrap your hatred in for these folk, and that's not something we should try to emulate.

I think European soccer fans need to spend a Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley when we host Michigan, and then talk to me about rivalries.

Last year I heard a group of students chanting 'fark michigan' and 'asshole' to a 40 year old guy and his 3 year old son who happened to be walking by.

/was ashamed of our town that day
 
2007-09-05 01:11:45 PM  
Doc Daneeka: Yankees-Sox, Leafs-Habs, and several others are just as old and bitter as your little soccer rivalries.

I don't really know how a baseball rivalry can be bitter - I mean...it's baseball, not exactly the world's most intense sport, and I think the sport has to have some intensity for it to be a bitter rivalry. I'm sure Kasparov's rivalry with Deep Blue was bitter as well but come on.

I do think it's funny that Hollywood turned Nick Hornby's excellent book on football fanaticism into a baseball story for American consumption. They even kept the name - which by the way rendered Hornby's play on words instantly moot.

As for the other one, I'm not even quite sure what a Leafs-Habs is. Maybe it's hockey but that's like saying my high school rivalry was intense, which it was, but the scale is missing.

I'm sorry Doc, the only thing close to football rivalry in the states as near as I can tell are a few of the NCAA gridiron rivalries (e.g., Michigan vs. Ohio State) But even those can become more like social events centered on the party rather than the game.

Football rivalries in the world are crazy - for better or worse, often worse. People throw batteries and bags of crap at the players - fans fight and yes even kill each other, on rare occasions players get assassinated. That level of nuts for the game transcends anything you can cook up - American fans, maybe quite rightly, don't care that much about any team or sport (unless you count Jeff Gillooly)
 
2007-09-05 01:11:53 PM  
CommandantVonThrash: MLS doesn't have bitter rivalries because the people who watch it aren't watching it because they're passionate about the product, they're passionate about soccer/football/futbol/dandydarts in general,and are supporting the MLS because they want it to succeed in America.

From my limited knowledge of the MLS, Revs vs United is the closest thing to a real rivalry, and it's awfully good natured. It can't become a real rivalry until A)One side has something to taunt the other about and B) The fans care enough about those particular teams, that a loss is met with actual frustration, as opposed to "Oh, good game, we'll get them next time."

All in all though,I think the MLS is doing it right, and if soccer's ever going to succeed in the US and Canada, it'll be them.


Actually, there are a few rivalries in MLS, (Galaxy/Chivas, Houston/Dallas, etc.) but it seems that the worst of them all is NY/DC. Granted, it's not hooliganism on a European scale, but there have been a few "incidents" in the past.
 
2007-09-05 01:13:34 PM  
Millzners: Last year I heard a group of students chanting 'fark michigan' and 'asshole' to a 40 year old guy and his 3 year old son who happened to be walking by.

Go to Rome when Manchester United plays Roma this year...yeah. There's a difference between shouting at people and getting beaten by the cops for little or no reason.

The biggest rivalries are based on proximity in the US. Duke-Carolina, Yankees-Red Sox, Michigan-Ohio State, etc.
 
2007-09-05 01:28:59 PM  
Sawatdee: I don't really know how a baseball rivalry can be bitter - I mean...it's baseball, not exactly the world's most intense sport, and I think the sport has to have some intensity for it to be a bitter rivalry.

And yet you argue that soccer has bitter rivalries, so your argument doesn't stand up.

There doesn't need to be a whole lot of action and intensity in a sport for there to be strong fan rivalries. I think baseball and soccer are about equal in terms of on-field action and intensity. Both sports seem to be more about strategy, tactics, and anticipation than about constant action anyway, which I wound tend to associate more with sports such as hockey, lacrosse, and basketball. American football I would put somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, with some emphasis on the strategic side of the game, and some emphasis on action.

Sawatdee: Football rivalries in the world are crazy - for better or worse, often worse. People throw batteries and bags of crap at the players - fans fight and yes even kill each other, on rare occasions players get assassinated.

Again, that's about par for the course for many sporting events in Philly (except for maybe the assassinations and deaths). But throwing batteries, fans fighting in the stands, etc. have all been known to happen and are commonplace. I really don't think that most Philly fans would be out of place amongst European soccer hooligans.
 
2007-09-05 01:54:04 PM  
I'm sorry, but American rivalries, even college ones, can't compare to some (not all) of the European or South American derbies. There is no American equivalent to Celtic/Rangers (Catholic/Protestant), Real Madrid/Barcelona (Castilla/Catalan). LA is working on that, having a white suburban team (Galaxy) and a hispanic, urban team (Chivas USA). The best rivalries aren't really about the sports at all, they just have that as a backdrop.
 
2007-09-05 02:03:20 PM  
Me thinks everyone has equally intense rivalries. Not possible?
 
2007-09-05 02:40:57 PM  
Sawatdee
it's baseball, not exactly the world's most intense sport, and I think the sport has to have some intensity for it to be a bitter rivalry.

And the sport where grown men fall to the ground crying and clutching their shins is intense?
 
2007-09-05 02:42:54 PM  
sharkeyca: The best rivalries aren't really about the sports at all, they just have that as a backdrop.

The last time I went to a MLS game in DC (which was many years ago, it may have changed) the only rivalry in evidence in the stands was the conflict between the various Latin American fan bases. Some one broke it down for me at the time but I've since forgotten (Salvadorans vs. Hondurans maybe?). Anyway, I've never seen more fights break out in the stands than at that game, and I don't think it had anything to do with allegiance to the teams on the pitch.

/Nice, friendly, and festive in my section of the stands, fortunately
//Fights were mostly at the end sections.
 
2007-09-05 03:13:36 PM  
Fergie wouldn't have opened his mouth if he'd been to the big Alvin v. Alto Loma match. Now that's competition, baby.
 
2007-09-05 03:37:58 PM  
Doc Daneeka: I think baseball and soccer are about equal in terms of on-field action and intensity. Both sports seem to be more about strategy, tactics, and anticipation than about constant action anyway, which I wound tend to associate more with sports such as hockey, lacrosse, and basketball. American football I would put somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, with some emphasis on the strategic side of the game, and some emphasis on action.


But many if not most people equate intensity with physical contact in team sports. Baseball and lacrosse have negligible contact. Soccer and basketball are about equal. Next is hockey, a skill sport with body checks built-in. Football, rugby and aussie rules are at the highest end of the spectrum.

Others measure intensity by persistence of action. Baseball is very low intensity by this measure as is football. All others have very few time outs and constant action, which is a major complaint about football by non-Americans. This is kind of unfounded if you don't grow up in the culture because each play can seem like an eternity on the field. The gaps just give you a chance to catch your breath so you can go from 0 to 110% again at the next snap.

In my mind, this makes football even more strategically intense. Every play there is an opportunity to exploit a weakness in your opponents. Game-day football coaching matters much more than it does on a soccer pitch. Once you've decided who plays in which formation, they're completely autonomous.

Rivalries of all sorts are kind of on the downslide anyway. With players changing teams more often than ever, the bad blood is less entrenched. Except in the stands where it belongs.
 
2007-09-05 03:49:01 PM  
Kuta: In my mind, this makes football even more strategically intense. Every play there is an opportunity to exploit a weakness in your opponents. Game-day football coaching matters much more than it does on a soccer pitch. Once you've decided who plays in which formation, they're completely autonomous.

Someone doesn't know much about soccer. You're saying that once I decide where the players stand at the beginning of 90 minutes, I can hit the pub, confident that the game will play it self out?

What about formation changes, hitting on the counter-attack, positional movement to exploit weakness in the other side, running the wings to exploit central defending, strategies for free-kicks and injured players, and well-timed substitutions?

yeah, autonomous...
 
2007-09-05 04:03:50 PM  
Hebalo: yeah, autonomous...

As a fan of both forms of football, it's pretty damn obvious that strategy is a bigger part of American football.
 
2007-09-05 04:20:12 PM  
tdpatriots12: Hebalo: yeah, autonomous...

As a fan of both forms of football, it's pretty damn obvious that strategy is a bigger part of American football.


I was answering his contention that soccer is "completly autonomous".

He serious understates the role of manager, I suspect.
 
2007-09-05 04:31:56 PM  
If you really think there's no strategy in soccer, WATCH IT, PLEASE, BEFORE OPENING YOUR MOUTHS (or typing fingers in this case), IT IS ALL STRATEGY. Yeah, there's defensive mechanisms that are somewhat ad-libbed if the strategy fails, but then they go back to it.

Yeah, football is all strategy based, both offense and defense, but that's because they have the time to do that. Soccer is in continuous play, if you watch the game you see the coaches yelling the plays from the technical area.
 
2007-09-05 04:52:39 PM  
Heh, check my profile. I am well aware of strategy in soccer. Well, at least soccer management sims :).
 
2007-09-05 06:34:41 PM  
And the sport where grown men fall to the ground crying and clutching their shins is intense?

As opposed to the sport where fat guys stand around for three hours in their pajamas grabbing their crotches dribbling tobacco shiat down their chins while they wait for the ball?

/I love generalizations just as much as the next guy
 
2007-09-06 01:49:45 AM  
There's an article on si.com about how the gang violence surrounding Argentina's league is threatening the entire sport in that country. It would be like if the Dodgers hired MS 13 to work at the stadium, and got commissions on player trades. Crazy stuff.
 
2007-09-06 04:37:25 AM  
Rod Flanders: Houston/Dallas

We still hate the Fire more :)
 
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