Another Euro Invasion of a different sort...

David Beckham has landed. Yawn, goes the collective sports media.

But is it a big deal? Yes. Because the world's biggest sporting icon is now playing stateside. So while we might read a courtesy piece about this in our sports section or maybe in Living with a feature on his wife it's a bigger deal than the brick and mortar newspapers would have you think.

A better guage will be the amount of articles we'll be reading in two weeks we'll be reading about what a huge failure it is. The pundits will tell us soccer is still boring and Beckham is the epitome of that. He being a virtuoso only in passing well and dazzling none. Think the Simpsons episode where they parody the sport, "passes left, passes right, passes left.." well David's the man at that. This is like John Stockton showing up to play in an Italian league in 1995. Well, John Stockton if he had Johnny Depp's looks and was married to Jessica Simpson. I'm eager to see just how creative the Gene Wojikowksi's of the world can be when they blast the beautiful game and swear how Beckham ain't MJ or Michael Vick or Reggie Bush.

Let's get one thing right off the bat. Beckham is the equivalent of Peyton Manning not Allen Iverson. Only he'll be on the sideline instead of the middle and he'll fire his pinpoint laser passes with his feet instead of his rocket arm. Problem is they'll go to the LA Galaxy's forwards and... they'll miss them all just as they've done all season when Landon Donovan has created wide open goal scoring opportunities for them to miss--because they are inept. He's Peyton Manning with a terrible receiving corps. It won't be pretty. Think Troy Aikman's first year with Dallas.

The sportswriters will blast the man, and the sport once again, even if they understand his impact on the field won't be measured by goals although that's exactly what they'll use. Realize the root of their hatred is one of ulterior motives.

I can't stand baseball, I suffer the fanatics of the sport when they try and sell me on the sublteties of working a count, a well place relay throw, shifting the outfield and the difference between a cutter and a split-finger. The sport is boring, mindnumbingly so but... I get that it isn't to other people. I understand those who have grown up playing it, relish it for its pace, its teamwork, patience of batters and pitchers, intelligence of decision making etc. etc. I just don't watch it. I get that there is a depth to it like say poker or say... soccer.

What I don't get is all these old media stiffs that are repelled by the sport of soccer. Generally, these are the same guys warbling on and on about the traditions of baseball, the history of the sport, the immutability of its records, and other banal subtopics. What's ironic is they most sound like International soccer writers right before they start minimizing American Football or Baseball.

Still, it amazes me that American sportswriters fascinated by baseball can't fathom other sports have more depth than is first gleaned from one watching. Read Greg Doyel's total ignorance of Poker on CBSSportsline (tying it strictly to the disease of gambling addiction) or any hack's terse paint by numbers column making fun of soccer.

Why this undying love for baseball by our sportswriters? In my own opinion it's because it requires the least athleticism to be passably decent at, so in little league the future dorks that make up the sports media actually had a moment or two of feeling like an athlete--they probably can recount their greatest dribblers that eked out of the infield, so with that moment of achievement they'd never find in basketball or football they were baseball lovers for life. It's the same way golf captures the hearts of any competitive over 30 year old, including myself. It's the one perfect shot in out of 100 terrible shots that brings you back for more.

These stat guys and rotissiere nerds that once caught a pop-fly in the outfield tripping while doing so (but refering to it as a diving catch) now defend their sport with an ernestness even their athletes don't share. So when the NFL became America's sport it met some resistence at first, but because it barely intersected with Baseball they let it go. When March Madness became our continental World Cup, it barely brushed up with spring training and the "hot-stove" so they let it go. The NBA and NHL go too long and overlapped the baseball season and it is these (admittedly inferior products) the baseball blue hairs attacked most strongly. That was until soccer arrived stateside and had the audacity to play a summer schedule.

This was a serious affront. Suddenly, there was a sport to compare and contrast baseball to. One that required the endurance to run 7 to 10 miles a game, speed, strength, finesse, quickness, skill, and didn't stop for 30 seconds between every pitch. In fact, it only stops once. Then their kids started to play it. Suddenly, they expressed indifference to little league because there is too much standing around, and trips to the ballpark for our Generation ADD are Sysphian efforts to keep them in their seats. Fill out a scorecard, eat some Nachos, look at the mascot, have a hot dog eating contest, catch pop-flys--do everything but watch the game.

So now, the kids actually have a true hero to root for in the sport that the Poppas hate, and while they watch baseball shoot itself in the foot with steroid scandals--making their once mythic records and marks yesterday's news--the American sportswriters can't stand it. "Why doesn't the rest of the world get the sport we love," they ask. "What's so great about soccer, anybody can kick a ball, I used to kick a can when I was a kid, doesn't make me an athlete. Don't they know how hard it is to hit a curve ball?"

Look, I'm not going to convert anybody to like soccer, I get that people don't get it, I only have to look at baseball to understand that. And though I don't get baseball, I understand others do. Weird that baseball writers can't see that the other way. Truth be told, if you don't play or get the sport ingrained into you from an early age you can't appreciate either Baseball or soccer. I've never met someone come late to the game of baseball and be a fan of it for anything more than the beers at the ballpark. And though, I bash baseball here, it serves only as a parallel to the bashing soccer gets, my eminity is not directed at baseball and it's fans but to the geeky sportswriters that proslytize that dying sport.

So, Beckham has come, and sportswriters are just chomping at the bit to write about how soccer failed again stateside. Most of them have probably already written their stories. However, when you read them, understand they are hanging on to the vestiges of a passed pasttime, and soccer isn't as bad as it sounds. In fact, if it were and they weren't so scared of it, you wouldn't even read about it. Because then it would be Rugby or Cricket.

Here's some things to remember before the soccer haters come out in full force:

David Beckham won't score a lot of goals and though he'll be criticized for not scoring goals, don't listen--because he doesn't score a lot of goals (It'd be like asking why Peyton didn't have a rushing TD in his last game).

The soccer crowds don't match the NFL or baseball. Doesn't matter the MLS is still in the top 6 soccer leagues in the world attendence wise before Beckham. They play in small stadiums for a reason. Guess what the Redskins don't come close to an Indy 500 crowd. Different stadia.

The ratings didn't go up much. They don't need to. The Gold Gup was already more watched than a Stanley Cup final game and 10 baseball games on at the same time of the same day.

What Beckham means to the league is that soccer fans too snootish for the American product who avidly watch other leagues on their satellite dishes might actually root for a local team and spend their dollars on a native product because finally it is legitimate. The MLS doesn't want to go head to head with baseball, the NFL, or the NBA, they just want a piece of the pie that those big European teams get every summer when they pack NFL stadia on their soccer tours.

Baseball doesn't need me and soccer doesn't need baseball geeks. However, just remember who's telling you about the latest deathknell of soccer and remember where their hearts lie. In 8 years your kids will be rooting for a soccer team, and you'll be the one with the ADD at the game.

Comments

Bad Beet said…
SOCCER is a faggot sport plain and simple. When you turn 10 you give it up and play other sports or you end up cutting hair or working in the mall.
Anonymous said…
What makes it a "faggot" sport?

Short-shorts? What would Bird, Laimbeer, and Dominque say?

Kicks to the head, shins, and balls? Punches to the head being legal?

Oh maybe, it's because soccer players don't do roids and have a build somewhere between a tennis player and a lacrosse players? Funny, most gay dudes I've seen in (straight) clubs are shirtless dudes looking more like roided wrestlers and football players then soccer players. So I don't buy that.

Although most "fans" are hung up on their slight statures not realizing these guys run half-marathons twice a week (in the game) and long distance runners typically can't build or hold on to body mass.

Try playing high level soccer after age 16 and tell me it's not physical. Only american football has a shorter average career span at the highest level in professional sports.

BTW, I didn't know working at the mall was a sign of homosexuality. I guess that means Santa's gay?

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