Tuesday, November 3, 2009

News Watch: Numbers in the Stands, Numbers on TV, ESPN Ups its WC Coverage, Eastwood a Soccer Fan? and More

The Free Beer Movement is not focused solely on drinking. I know... it surprises us to say that too. In our more sober moments we also reflect on the state of the sport, culture-wise, with one eye on the headlines that pop up across the soccer Inter-blogo-sphere.

Here's a look at a few key stories that are shaping American soccer this week.

* Despite the recession, Major League Soccer is doing pretty OK.

This is great news given the current economic situation in the nation. All of the major sports leagues are suffering due to the down turn, but MLS's modesty seems to have helped it through the worst part of the storm.

The National Football league is struggling to sell tickets and Major League Baseball saw its attendance drop 6.9%, while MLS fell only 2.9%. The bad news is that if you take new franchise Seattle out of the figures (who averaged 30,897 per game) the league attendance suffered a 9% drop. The other bad news is that established clubs on, average, suffered more than the league's newer clubs. Long-struggling clubs like Kansas City, FC Dallas, and New York Red Bulls continue to lose fans not only because of the recession, but because they're just bad.

Back to the upside. The Summer of Soccer put American soccer on the map. Not 1994 World Cup on the map, but between the high profile matches and the USMNT's run the Gold Cup and Confed Cup it drew larg number of people to the sport and in the stands

* Even as attendance numbers are a mixed bag, TV ratings for soccer are pretty straight forward: a big jump for the footy. Fox Soccer Channel saw huge boosts for its English Premier League numbers and modest gains for its MLS broadcasts. Just keep in mind, its not worth it to compare the two.

* More good TV news: ESPN is going all-out for its World Cup coverage in South Africa next year.

* Speaking of the World Cup, the Los Angeles Time reports that the U.S. hosting the 2018 or 2022 tourney could mean an estimated $5 BILLION, with a "B" windfall for the nation's ecomomy.

* And how is that big going?

* A great "shoe on the other foot" perspective of American basketball from the Brits.

* If Dirty Harry is a soccer fan then why not the rest of America? Huh, punks?

* The Americans are Coming! The rest of the world ought to get used to the USMNT participating in its marquee soccer event.

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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