Response to Nicholas Carlson

I didn’t want to write another soccer-specific post so soon…but this guy is a loon!

If you don’t want to read his article, I’ll quote some of it here for you.

It starts off with:

In a national embarrassment, the United State’s under-23 men’s national team did not qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

While I am not thrilled, it may be embarrassing…it’s not the end of the world. It’s inexcusable, yes. But…sometimes you need to lose in order to win.

It’s been almost 20 years since the US hosted the World Cup in 1994.

Why do we still stink at this sport?

I don’t think that hosting the World Cup means that you excel at the sport. If that were the case, why is Qatar hosting? To take a different spin on this quote, missing the Olympics doesn’t mean there is a “stench” of our team…it was the U23’s, not our senior team. There is a LONG way to go until the World Cup and what everyone cares about.

The problem, for American soccer, is that our most athletic and coordinated people all give their lives to other sports.  They do not play the game, I believe, because no American soccer player has demonstrated how much upside there is to the sport.

WRONG! Not in the fact that soccer doesn’t get the most athletic and coordinated…but American soccer players have demonstrated the upside. It doesn’t even take a brainiac to go back a few years to pick out VERY successful players. People don’t play the game in the states because it’s still VERY young here. We’ve only had a professional league since 1994 (when it was established, first season was 1996). You cannot expect to be top of the world when you only have a professional league for 16 years. Heck, if you were born in 1996 and exposed to soccer since you were born, you’d just now be getting your driver’s license! Nothing develops that quickly to be elite…for the most part. Nothing at the scale of a professional league and a way to develop players nationwide. We know there is “much upside” because we have been exposed to how much soccer impacts the world!

Americans have had very little exposure to the Michael Jordans or Peyton Mannings of soccer – the winners, the guys who become billionaires, the transcendent greats who inspire children to play out the last seconds of a championship match in their heads.

Blame the media. Tell ESPN, ABC, NBC (thank you for doing some!), Fox, and other popular media outlets to do a better job of covering the beautiful game! Tell them to cover the MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League better. Tell them to cover the Olympic qualifiers better. Tell them to cover the World Cup qualifiers better. Get soccer in EVERYONE’s faces like every market does for NFL, NBA, MLB, and even NASCAR. Heck, even the WWE gets better promotional opportunities from your media cronies.

None of them play for the American national team, and while the MLS is an improving league, it remains definitively third tier.The only real stars in it are well past their primes. The league champions are not regarded as true champions on the world stage. Nor are they ever given that chance.

Give the MLS more credit. They average more attendance than developed leagues in Brazil and even France! Again…we are only 16 years old.

And now this guy gets going:

Some very wealthy business person needs to make the no-brainer decision to buy one of the marginal premier league teams – might we suggest the Wolverhampton Wanderers? – and move this team to New York.

WHAT?! Really?! You cannot be serious…

This would be a smart business decision because any franchise moving from Wolverhampton, with a population of 220,000 people, to New York, with a population of 22 million, would increase in value from maybe $300 million to $2 billion or more, overnight.

Okay…so I was wrong, you are serious…

This argument ignores a crucial point: the entire Irish and Scottish markets combined – 9 million people – do not nearly equal the size of the New York market. Nor do either of those markets match the promotional power of New York’s massive media, advertising, and tourism industries.

He wrote this about a league allowing such a move. He talked about Irish and Scottish clubs being barred from joining the English Premier League. Well…Nicholas, you argument has yet to make any sense. A 9-10 hour plane ride does not make any sort of “league” sense. I don’t care about the “promotional power.” Nobody in their right mind wants to fly that far for one single game and fly back.

So now he addresses that argument:

You might argue that it would be physically impossible for a New York team to play in an England-based league.

Not true!

It takes the Seattle Seahawks, a very isolated and yet successful NFL franchise, hours longer to fly to Florida or New York that it would for a New York team to fly to London.

Okay. I am sure it still makes sense because this would be a “multi-billion dollar market.”

So, now you must do those simple things like, buy a team, move a team, build a stadium. What else…

One important thing this franchise must immediately do: shell out lots of cash for some of the world’s best players to make the team an instant powerhouse. We’d suggest the team start with Christiano Ronaldo, a man designed by god for the soccer field and Times Square billboards. This plan may sound like a too simple way to the top, but it’s exactly what Manchester City’s new owners have done in the past four years.

Ohhhhh…ok. That solves it. This “multi-billion dollar market” just went down the drain now. Because all you have to do is “buy” everyone. That’s what everyone else does right? How is Manchester City doing by buying players? Oh yeah…not winning their own domestic league!

Would the MLS try to block the move? Hell no! Having a global contender on US soil would be excellent marketing for the game in this country. It might even be smart for MLS owners to pool their money and take a large stake in the New York franchise. If they owned it, they could play it against all the MLS teams in annual exhibitions. The constant contact – and solid play against a top tier Premier League team – would legitimize MLS clubs in the world’s view, and give their best players incentives to improve.

You are right…the MLS wouldn’t block it. They don’t have the New York Red Bulls playing in New York to promote. We don’t have the New York Cosmos trying to come back. Nothing like making even more of a mockery of MLS than you already have…let’s make the MLS the illegitimate stepchild twice-removed to this “Champions League team playing on US soil.”

So he wraps it up with:

The best way to attract the best athletes in America to soccer is to show them the insane glory that playing the game can bring.

Kids play baseball because it’s fun – and because of Babe Ruth and the big-budget, 27-time world champion New York Yankees.

Soccer is already more fun than baseball. All its missing is a world-beating American champion…

Sorry to burst your bubble Nicholas…kids aren’t playing baseball because of Babe Ruth anymore. Kids aren’t playing sports because of big-budget teams. Look at the small markets, they have just as much passion and fans as any Yankees team. Even my beloved Green Bay Packers are successful in a market of 100,000ish residents! Know what…every sport, every league that is successful in the states has had support from the media. Until then…soccer won’t be as successful here as it could be.

Nicholas: you are suggesting spending more and more money in something that is a game. It’s a pasttime. It’s fun. It’s joga bonito. It’s all of that and it happens to be a big part of many peoples’ lives. You’d have to rename ANY league if you “move” a team here. The English Premier League would then become the “English and one American Premier League.” La Liga would become “La Liga and the American team.” Makes sense. It also makes so much sense that there are 53 countries that comprise the UEFA Champions League…It would be a fun trip from eastern Europe to play in Dallas, Texas. Sheesh…And, please never try saying that other professional athletes will translate into another sport. It doesn’t happen often, and recent attempts have fallen flat on their faces. That’s foolishness.

Maybe you should start telling companies to invest in MLS and its clubs like they do teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NASCAR? Ever think of that one. Those sports wouldn’t be as successful if they didn’t have big time sponsorships. Get the media behind American soccer. Have talk shows. Put them all over the commercials. Make them rockstars like the media has done with other professional stars in the states. Get behind the domestic league! Support it. Without supporting it, it will go to the ways of the old NASL (this won’t happen again, but without support we won’t get better).

I have not read such a terrible article from a “professional source” in such a long time. As I read in a comment to your article, maybe they Business Insider should buy a “Champions League” writer to write their sports articles…because you failed miserably. Maybe you should think of a way of promoting the positives of American soccer instead of completely tearing it apart…when it isn’t such. We’ll continue getting better. We just have to get rid of loons like you in order to succeed since you aren’t helping.


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