116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Final Word on the Topic of Eurosnobbery

These may be the headiest times our little domestic league has ever seen, with good showings against some of the world's greatest clubs, unprecedented American interest in soccer and very good stadium news from both New York and Salt Lake. As the league continues to demonstrate its value, the debate between the Eurosnobs and MLS fans has heated up once again, perhaps even moreso than ever before. Many MLS fans, you see, armed with newfound confidence, are coming hard at the naysayers, some of whom continue to cling to an overwhelmingly negative perception of the league. The funny thing, of course, is that MLS is neither as good as its staunchest defenders say it is, or even close to being as bad off as its detractors might suggest. What do we then make of these factions?
The Eurosnobs (we here on 116th Street probably lean closest to belonging to this group), due to their contentious argument that MLS is an inferior league (it is), seem to bear the guilt of an entire generation, according to the MLS faction. What guilt do I speak of? The guilt of being "damaging to American soccer," of course. The argument, which seems to be gaining quite a bit of steam these days, is that any American fan who is not actively watching, attending and supporting the domestic league is (and not entirely in this order) making MLS stadiums appear empty on television, thereby turning casual American sports fans away from MLS; turning the atmosphere at MLS stadiums into a mausoleum, thereby turning casual American sports fans away from MLS; keeping MLS ratings down, thereby keeping MLS matches off of SportsCenter, and thereby turning casual American fans away from MLS; essentially, anything that could potentially contribute to the downfall of the league can be attributed to the Eurosnobs, due to their failure to support MLS. The cousin to this argument is the one that says that any American who is not supporting the league is no true soccer fan. Sorry, but I'm not buying.
Contrary to being a detriment to the league, the Eurosnob is actually of considerable help (yes, even Jamie Trecker). It is the Eurosnob who helps keep the league and the American game honest. MLS, hybrid of American sports and European soccer traditions that it is, is held to a higher standard by those who would look down upon it. Without the Eurosnob, Alexi Lalas can make vague references to millions worldwide worshipping an inferior brand of soccer, and actually get away with it. The redesign of Red Bull Park has Eurosnob appeal in spades, and all of these big exhibitions between MLS and Euro superpowers were scheduled with Eurosnobs in mind. Without the Eurosnob, we'd still have the Dallas Burn and the San Jose Clash (well, maybe not San Jose). To MLS, Eurosnobbery is inspiration personified. Don't hate the Europoser, MLS fan; look upon him or her and see the face of motivation.
But all you Eurosnobs out there, you need to be nicer to the league, too. Stop raining on MLS fans' parades! If they want to get all gassed about the MLS All-Stars beating Chelsea (and friendly or not, Chelski looked pathetic out there), let them do so. MLS won the game, fair and square, and if MLS fans want to talk trash to every Chelsea fan they see, they have every right. If the league wants to look silly with confetti after the game, let it. Nobody makes fun of Bolton fans for getting piss drunk after beating Chelsea, so why torment an underdog of a different sort? Furthermore, if you're gonna talk trash about MLS, at least do so from the perspective of having watched an entire match. Sure, it's not as good a league as the Bundesliga, but it's probably as good as the Scottish Premiership, sans Rangers and Celtic (although D.C. United fans might take me to task for that one) and its best teams can hold their own with anybody. It may lack star power and stepovers, but it's worth watching if you're a soccer fan.
So now, instead of calling each other names and going Old Firm at each other over message boards, let's all take a step back and realize that both sides, far from being a detriment to the American game, are quite good for it. After all, it's America, and there is a passionate, serious debate going on about soccer. When is the last time that ever happened?


Anonymous McCrum said...

Must...not...kill...again...positive comments about Eurosnobs...red...mist...clearing...

I can see both sides of the Eurosnobbery, but it pains and annoys the hell out of me if I show up at a bar and see a bunch of guys proclaiming their love for Arsenal (or any other team), never having sat in the home stadium, never done anything more than sit at home and buy a jersey. And when they see me in a Chicago jersey and talk about how they love the Second City and they're from Wicker Park or where ever and have never been to a game in a stadium in their town, well, you can see why one would get annoyed.

This is a game that is fun to watch on television, but incredible to view from the stands. Cheering, clapping, chanting, it's what one is supposed to do at a game. If these people want to do it in a bar and believe that's atmosphere, fine. I'll do it in an actual stadium with the same amount of people and actually do something to make a team realize someone's behind them.

Yes, MLS is not as good as some European teams, but you know what, a lot of European teams aren't as good as some European teams. Right now I would take DCU in a bet against anyone in the Championship League and most of the Premiership.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Chump said...

Proper essay.

I guess I'm in the 'snob' category as I'll watch any random Premiership exhibition matchup than an MLS game, but, a big BUT, while the MLS has come an impressively long way in their 10 years, their attitude is still glaringly anti-big city.

I would definitely attend games if they were in my city, I live in Manhattan and would travel anywhere in the five boroughs to see a game but not to Jersey, there's just something depressing about driving or taking the bus out there. Same holds true for Nets games.

I understand the economics of the strategy in NY, and in the other MLS suburban markets like Chicago and New England, but I believe it's shortsighted. Building in cities would cost more, no doubt, but such a move would raise the league's exposure and make it easier for casual fans to go. Except for the NFL where everything works, sports in the suburbs has rarely worked.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous McCrum said...

Would a simple PATH train to Harrison get you to a game? I am a full believer that Giants Stadium is the world's second biggest pain in the ass to get to (First prize? Foxboro! Congrats, you jerks!), especially if you live in Manhattan.

But, have you ever spent an afternoon riding a crowded 7 train to the end of the line because someone had an extra ticket to a Mets game? Make it to the Bronx for the Yankees? Getting to a game outside Manhattan is a pain no matter what.

In addition, there's just no place to put a stadium in this town. There are a couple places uptown, but traffic would be overwhelming with the suburbanites, especially because the Bulls have a large Jersey base.

But, this argument is based solely on Manhattan. Would I have given a kidney to have the Fire stadium in Chicago, just across the street from where the White Sox play? You bet. But I wasn't willing to put up the 20 million. Bridgeview was. Economically speaking, it made no sense. Since the league has yet to actually make money, long-term I'm okay with it.

It's not that the league is anti-big city, it's just that the big cities don't see that they would be getting a big enough return on their investment. This may change in ten years. This is what life was like for basketball, the NBL had Akron? Oshkosh? Sheboygan? We just didn't have the amount of press at the time. Give it time, MLS will make the jump back to cities.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

This is an interesting topic (maybe one I'll write about with more time and a little more thought). As someone orignally from, South Jersey, very close to Philadelphia (but not particularly close to Glassboro), there is no doubt in my mind that I'd support a Philadelphia MLS team as much as I can, even if in the suburbs. That being said, getting to a stadium in Philadelphia from my family's house would be much easier than getting to Glassboro, even though I'm already situated in SJ... The infrastructure of cities lends itself to these kinds of things. By the same token, I find the idea of taking a PATH train to Red Bull Park to be pretty appealing. It actually costs less than the subway and seems like a pretty straight shot, possibly even easier than riding out to Shea (which feels sort of Long Island-ish, anyway). It seems to me that the issue at hand is not necessarily big-city vs. suburbs (the NFL is quite successful in places like Green Bay and Foxboro), but more an issue of providing something meaningful to the communities in which it exists. Right now, there is little of that, but hopefully, over time, MLS teams will mean more to their surrounding areas. That is when people will be willing to travel miles to see games. If you have no emotional attachment to RBNY, and they are also not playing good soccer, why would you ride out to the Meadowlands to watch them?

10:13 AM  
Anonymous mccrum said...

"If you have no emotional attachment to RBNY, and they are also not playing good soccer, why would you ride out to the Meadowlands to watch them?"

Now this argument I can get behind. I go to watch the other teams coming into town.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Striker said...

Great blog



11:58 AM  

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