Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So where do we go from here Soccer?

Ok Soccer you got me. You've managed to wiggle your way into my brain after entertaining me for a month during the World Cup. I got caught up in all the Landon Donovan excitement. I found myself sleeping with the TV on ESPN so I would be woken up by the dulcet tones of the vuvuzela and Ian Darke. I even felt a bit of pain when Ghana knocked the US out. You did your job soccer, you made me a fan, but don't lose me just yet. I have to tell you this has happened before. I went on a Hockey kick for a while when the Florida Panthers reached the Stanley Cup finals. Really only because my 12 year old brain thought this:





was the coolest logo in the world. Well, that love for hockey has faded. Not even Barry Melrose and his sweet mullet could make me passionately follow hockey again. So I'm presenting you with a chance, soccer. You can reach elite territory in my sports-filled brain. You can reach Tier 1 Status. What are the tiers you ask? Let me share with you soccer:

TIER 1
Baseball, Football, College Basketball
TIER 2
Australian Rules Football, Rugby, World's Strongest Man
TIER 3
Golf, Hockey, Nascar, Winter Olympics
TIER 4
NBA, Jai Alai, UFC, WWE



That's some elite territory to be in, soccer. But you did your job, you managed to make a random guy in Auburn, Alabama a fan. Apparently, I wasn't the only one:

Chuck Culpepper, author and a former sport correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, recounts a conversation he had on a flight recently in which the World Cup became a topic of conversation.

"I sat next to a man who said his 20-year-old son, a student at Auburn University in Alabama (a state synonymous with American Football), would wake early during the World Cup, paint his face and join a gaggle of friends at a bar to watch the matches during breakfast hours."

"If you had told me in 2002, when the United States reached the quarter-finals, that even this nugget would happen in Alabama in 2010, when the United States did not quite reach the quarter-finals, I would not have believed you. The number one reason this happened in Alabama: TV coverage," Culpepper added.



So what do we do now? Well I know my next strategy will be a 3 part plan:



STEP 1- WATCH MORE MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER (MLS) - ESPN is going to be playing to everloving mercy out of some MLS matches; so I might as well watch. Hell, they are even adding Thierry Henry and hear that guys is supposed to be pretty good. So I'll watch more soccer on an American professional level and see if I can follow. If it can retain my interest then we are on the right track.



STEP 2- FIND AN ENGLISH PREMIERE LEAGUE (EPL) TEAM- Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy, has a great piece where he chose an EPL team to better understand the game. It's a brilliant move and one that I plan to copy. Not only for Simmons's sake, but because I've seen it work before. I've had friends who chose one random baseball team and then followed them closely and it helped them develop a love for the game. So I'll do my research and pick my team. Who knows who it might be. Right now I've leaning toward Wigan. Not to flashy, new to the EPL. I was thinking about Hull City (they are the Tigers after all) but they've been relegated, or I could go completely bandwagon and go with Aston Villa. That will be the fun part.



STEP 3- WATCH SOCCER IN AUBURN- Finding Soccer on TV this fall, but I need to experience it up close. Sadly the only professional teams that are within driving distance are women's teams. Even that team (the Atlanta Beat of the WPS) are not exactly stellar (2-7-4 on the year). Still, you have to admire the love for women's soccer. Look at the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) which has more teams and in some of the most random places (Brandon, FL and Carmel, Indiana among others). But I don't have to go far to watch good (or even decent) Soccer. I'll just stay right here and watch the Auburn Women's team. The schedule seems nice, the facility is gorgeous, and the tickets are cheap. Even better, they've got some pretty solid talent including All-SEC Selection Katy Frierson.


So get ready soccer, you've got the rest of the summer to convince me to say. You don't want to fall down to Tier 3. That's a tough group to work your way out of.

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