The Triumphant Return of SWoS!

It’s been a long time, but the Savidge World of Sports has returned to (hopefully) give daily insight into all things athletic. First on the agenda is my love-hate relationship with soccer…

For years, soccer was one of those things I thought I should like because it would make me feel more cultured and worldly, but didn’t (things like reading “the Economist” or watching “the New Hour with Jim Lehrer”). I couldn’t tell why I never developed a love for the sport, until the World Cup in 2006 – I realized that I only cared about soccer when it mattered. The Germany/Argentina game had me on the edge of my seat (damn Germans…), but change the channel to the MLS and I wasn’t interested. When two teams go up against one another in the World Cup, the hopes and dreams of their entire nation are on their shoulders. Let’s be honest, how many people live and die over the Houston Dynamo?

It was Turkey who got me back into soccer a few weeks ago. Their (frankly ridiculous) comebacks, combined with the enthusiasm of the Turkish fans made me see how exciting the game could be. Even when they lost to Germany in the semifinal (again, damn Germans…) I kept watching – albeit rooting for somebody to beat Germany. So here’s the lesson for the MLS: amazing players and high quality play won’t get Americans into soccer. But legions of fans following every second of their locals teams will, basically meaning that if you want fans, you have to have fans. That’s why it may be too late for soccer in America – unless there’s a massive influx of soccer hooligans from overseas suddenly becoming obsessed with Real Salt Lake, nobody’s ever going to care.

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