• 12/12/2008, 03:38AM ET

Round II: "What are the 3 main things preventing soccer from growing as mainstream sport in the US?"

Where's My Team? (14-19-4) vs Somebody of Note (43-13-5)

The only "rule" for this TD is one item per argument.

I've been hearing soccer is "the sport of the future" for my whole life, but that future has been as slow to come as stowe these days.
People continue to tell me that soccer will soon become part of the fabric of this country, and that it will eventually be as popular as football, basketball, karate, smoking, glue sniffing, menstruation, going down on TFo's mom, photocopying, and everything else that fuels America.

Why Americans Don't Like Soccer
1) It's the one sport where nothingness is expected. I mean, even Confucius can score twice in 90 minutes (even if his partner is slightly-less-than-animate).

Even at the highest levels, every soccer match seems to end 1-0 or 2-1. A goal is harder to come by than leftovers at Porkins's house or a good point in one of Peachy's arguments.
A normal 11 year-old can play an entire season without placing toe to ball and nobody would even notice, assuming she does a good job of running and avoiding collisions.

Americans love seeing goals.
If the MLS wanted to draw in more fans, they would find a way to increase scores, like when the NHL removed the red-line.

Soccer is unfortunately flailing in its bid to entrench itself in mainstream USA. The MLS has fewer fans than Lee Harvey Oswald does, and the most recognizable face in the league is a man who was once hailed as the "ultimate metrosexual" and posed for a gay magazine. (

One of the reasons soccer is unpopular is like you said: they score less than Pitt in a human bar. However, saying soccer is boring and not giving a reason as to why it's boring is like contracting gonorrhea and neglecting to mention the source, T-fo's mom. Or like attempting to masturbate and failing to use your "Leaning Tower of Pisa".

With that said, my 1st reason is:

The offside rule.

Soccer is the only competition in the world other than "you pick first" Throwdowns where play is halted and you lose control AS SOON AS you gain a competitive advantage! Whenever you get behind the defence and have balls sent your way (don't get too excited, Gripp!), play stops and possession changes. This does more to disturb the flow of the game than a lack of Flomax does to disturb the flow of stowe's urine.

You can't expect fans to watch a game where offense is fundamentally discouraged!

Ah, the offsides rule. I was actually hoping I could hold that one out for my final argument, good call.
My solution to increasing scores without drastically changing the game would be to eliminate the offsides rule, actually.

Games can end in ties. We all saw the backlash this season when an NFL game ended in a draw, Americans want there to be a winner, and they want just as badly for there to be a loser. Americans are more angered and confused by ties than Porkins is by Diet soda.

Redwing and I together have determined that soccer is a sport where 1) nothingness is expected, 2) offense is discouraged, and now 3) there isn't always a winner.

Currently, all levels of baseball, basketball, and NCAA football theoretically go on forever until a winner is determined.
End games in sudden-death OT (come on, Americans just love to say "Sudden Death"), or penalty-kick shots like in the World Cup.
These end-games would leave fans on the edge of their seats, and raise levels of excitement in the sport. It would bring more excitement to fans, than Jack Hanna's appearances on Letterman bring to Pitt.
A tie is less satisfying than Gruden's mom these days.

The tie idea isn't bad, but then again the NFL can end in a tie and their popularity doesn't seem to have suffered. Also, NLL (that's lacrosse) has infinite sudden death OT, and you still don't see fans lining up to buy Mark Steenhuis Buffalo Bandits jerseys. Whether there are ties or not seems to be as valid as a CCC-RSB Throwdown.

I challenge you to find 100 people who say they don't like soccer because of their overtime system. You'll hear more crickets than there are in Pitt's room on insect night.

The NFL does have something big that the MLS doesn't, though...

2) The best players in the world.

When you ask casual soccer fans to name ten elite soccer players, who do you think they'll name? Ronaldinho or Guillermo Barros Schelotto? Thierry Henry or Ante Razov?

American fans are not going to settle for something that they see as a poor man's version of the real deal. Making the MLS a more competitive league would not only make it more exciting, it would allow the networks to have marketable stars.

Think about David Beckham. After he was signed, ticket sales for the L.A. Galaxy went through the roof. He opened eyes to soccer all around the US. Ergo, more fans.

Good call with bringing in the stars. A way to do that would be to either expand or eliminate the current salary cap.
If they could make the same $$, international players would happily come play in the US.

3) Zings aside, the biggest problem is just a lack of understanding the game, here in the States, that leads to idiots like the now infamous bconngemini.
The sad thing is that he isn't the only person who feels the way he does about soccer, it's practically a nationwide phenomenon.

The #1 thing keeping soccer from growing as a mainstream sport is the fact that so many people look at it as a sport for girls, a sissy competition, a game for little kids, etc.

For all practical purposes, soccer is the sports equivalent of abortion on the political scale; in America, hating or embracing soccer is the core litmus test for where you exist on the sports spectrum.
People just don't see it as possible to love both types of football.

The MLS should look into promoting both their players, and their sport. Get young people out to pro-level games. Advertise! Celebretize!
Until America is convinced that soccer is a man's sport, "a real sport," it won't be mainstream.

You bring up a nice point, but like in my first argument and last night with TFo's mom, I'm going to go a little deeper.

The single biggest thing preventing soccer from growing as a mainstream sport in the U.S. is (3) a stunning lack of media coverage.

Think about every time you have watched SportsCentre. Now take the number of times you have seen MLS soccer as the lead story, and multiply it by the number of times you have seen an MLS highlight in the Top Ten. Add the number of times you have heard soccer in PTI's Big Finish, and multiply it all by the number of words in the Bigalke Thesaurus. It doesn't matter how big the last one is, you're still going to get zero.

You can never see the MLS at a regular time on a major network. Raise your hands if you knew that ABC actually broadcast two MLS games last year. Members of SoccerNation don't count.

The fact of the matter is that the major media networks are failing to ingrain soccer on the national conscience. No matter how much you want to love something, you still can't love it if you don't know when it's on or where it's on.

Soccer will never become a mainstream sport until the media begins treating it like one.


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