Monday, July 24, 2006

How to keep the soccer buzz going in the US

That's the question many of us have asked on our blogs (as I'm sure many executives have asked at MLS headquarters) and to this end, Greg Lalas steps in to answer the question over at SI.com.

With more people willing to give the game a try, but not knowing where to go, Lalas points folks in the direction of the English Premiere League.

And now they're jonesing. Like us. And it's our job to help them find their fix. Right now, with my beloved MLS still relatively fledgling, that comes mainly in the form of the Premier League and La Liga. With the world shrinking faster every day, I've long believed that the European leagues have a better chance of tackling the NFL and other U.S. leagues than a U.S.-based soccer league does. That's why Barcelona and Chelsea are coming here in the next few weeks. They're marketing, not training.


Once you have them hooked on the game, introduce them to the MLS. Point out that it might not be up to the top European leagues, but there is still some good soccer getting played.

This is a great move, but might prove harder said then done. There are too many US soccer fans out there that will wake up at 7am to watch an EPL match between Middlesbrough and Portsmouth, but scoff at the notion of watching a MLS game. Till we can got those soccer fans to give MLS some respect, how can we really expect newbies to like to domestic game.

Lalas does point to one of the main reasons I think soccer could catch on in the US, the experience of attending a game. The atmosphere that is created is like nothing in any other professional sport. It is not the result of an announcer screaming or a bass drum blaring, instead, it is the sound of a community singing.

Now MLS matches are not as impressive in that realm either, but if you go to a match, get a seat near the supporters’ section, have a beer and enjoy the event.

I guess this is just my endorsement of the great free beer movement.

2 Comments:

Blogger D said...

That reminds me...

8:46 PM  
Blogger C said...

As a new-since-the-World-Cup soccer fan, I'm noticing some real marketing shortfalls here in the U.S.

For example, I'm going to start following FC Dallas in MLS (I live in Austin) and Liverpool in the EPL. So I thought I'd stop by a soccer store here in town, called "Soccer USA", hoping to find a team t-shirt of one or the other of those teams.

I looked around on their racks of shirts for at while, not finding much of what I was after. Finally, I asked if they had MLS shirts. "Uh, yeah, I think so, somewhere..." The clerks look here, look there; finally, "oh yeah, here they are". They had one little rack, *maybe* two feet wide, with jerseys only, no t-shirts. And of those, exactly *one* of FC Dallas, and *zero* for the Houston Dynamo (this is in Austin, a few hours' drive to either Dallas or Houston).

They did have a bigger selection for the EPL & European teams, like Manchester United, Juventus, Liverpool, etc. But even then, mostly just a jersey or two for each team. And I'm not ready to spend $80 on a Liverpool jersey just yet. ;-)

So I don't know; I guess this place sells more to soccer *players* - youth leagues especially - and less to soccer *fans*. But I'm surprised they're not trying harder to grow their market. I even stopped in there a few weeks ago, early in the World Cup, and aside from a handful of merchandise, you wouldn't have been able to tell anything special was going on in the soccer world at all.

So for me, I'll just order what I want online; no big deal. But there's sure a long way to go for soccer fandom in the U.S.

12:25 PM  

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