Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Brews and Views Essay Series: Why American Soccer?

We continue our new series on the Free Beer Movement. It's called "Brews and Views" and we pose a question or topic to various prominent soccer persons and, well, they give us their view on it.

We've got loads of get people that have already responded to our call for essay submissions and each week we'll feature a unique perspective on the current topic/question at hand. Kicking it off (pun intended) we're asking our respondents the question, "Why American soccer?".

As inhabitants of the U.S. of A we've got loads of soccer viewing options and limited amount of time. We want our panel of essayists to make their case as to why the American version of the world's game is the one we should all invest in.

Regularly readers know where we stand on this issue. Buy American. It's ours. Build and shape it so it ranks as one of the premier leagues in the world.

The series will include such diverse voices as former U.S. Men's National Team player Alexi Lalas, The Shin Guardian, MatchFit USA's Jason Davis, Church of Soccer, Nutmeg Radio, FutFanatico, MLS Insider, and many, many more.

Interested in submitting your own answer to the question, "Why American soccer?", then send us an email with your response. Please keep your submission to under 1000 words (that's like 2.5 pages typed!) and include a picture that you feel goes well with your response. Send it to freebeermovement(at)gmail(dot)com.


By Alexi Lalas /   Do you REALLY need us to tell you who he is and what he does?

It hasn’t always been easy to love this game in our country. When someone says, “I’m an American soccer fan,” they often have the scars to prove it. 

But the history, culture, and lifestyle behind our sport is real, and it has helped us survive. And now, it will help us thrive. 

Soccer is no longer a niche sport in America. Yet it still remains an alternative to convention. It’s like Nirvana after Bleach — as cool and alluring as a hipster band, yet as dorky and naĂŻve as a teenager.

Here’s what I believe:

I believe American soccer will only get bigger and stronger because it is becoming a way of life for more and more people. I believe that the game will increasingly influence the style, talk, politics and even morals of the American soccer fan. I believe that groups like the FBM and the American Outlaws are evangelizing fans in creative, organized, and intelligent ways that reflect the actual game. 

Because the experience of being inside the American soccer culture is unique, inclusive, and contagious.

I’ve been lucky to be a part of American soccer for a long time. I’ve seen the sport grow and I’ve grown with it. Through it all, I’ve come to realize that, no matter how hard we aim for the ideal, it’s not perfect and it’s not infallible. But it is ours. 

Eventually, the teenagers grow up and the best bands graduate to mainstream popularity. So I know that soccer will become an accepted major American sport. 

But for now, it is simply our way of life. A life we choose or maybe a life that chose us. Either way, it is a life we love. And now more than ever, we are not alone.

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ClevelandGooner said...

The music analogy works well. Soccer is a subculture in America, but it's addicting as hell. Soccer on TV is like listening to a record, and seeing a game is like getting out to a live show. We just need to get more people out for that energy and atmosphere of their first live game.

elliott said...

Deep down, my dream is for the MLS to reach the popularity, solvency, and relevancy of the NHL without ever cashing into an overproduced NFL or overblinged NBA/EPL.

Anonymous said...

When soccer/MLS has its own "NFL Live" or "Baseball Tonight" show broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2 in the USA, that'll be when you know the sport has arrived.

Vamos United! :-)

James said...

Lalas says...

"Through it all, I’ve come to realize that, no matter how hard we aim for the ideal, it’s not perfect and it’s not infallible. But it is ours."

This sums up the bedrock of my feelings about our teams and leagues. Being old enough to remember a US without a top flight league and without a team capable of qualifying for the World Cup it is pretty amazing what is now ours.

PZ said...

It used to be that soccer in the US was like that awesome restaurant you go to with great food, good prices, and an available table whenever you show up. As more discovered it, the food is still good but the prices have gone up and it's more difficult to get a table.

Patrick Ghirardi - New Orleans, LA said...

As a USA fan who was estatic that he could watch team USA play a WC qualifying match on TV in 1985 and then see them lose and not qualify for Mexico 1986, I can tell you being a USA fan is not always easy. In my lifetime, I have been only able to see team USA win 4 World Cup games (Columbia 94, Portugal and Mexico 02, and barely, Algeria 10). 4 WC wins. That is it. For all the improvement we think we have, we have still only produced 4 WC wins in the modern era. Judging from the past year, it seems we have regressed back to those 86 teams. Maybe even worse, because I bet even Bryan Murray could score a goal now and then. Sure we have Klinsman and yes Landon Donovan is our best attacking player ever (not sure if he is better than Tab Ramos or even Claudio Reyna), yet we still stink on occasions that causes me embarrasment.

I am from New Orleans and I have seen soccer grow in this area. Yet, I will say this to Alexi and the rest of the USA soccer nation, WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO.

If you want better soccer in the USA, you need to grow it in the country where it is weakest, the SOUTH. The Southern states produce the best athletes in American sports today, yet when it comes to soccer, there are few products from the southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

I wonder why. If you come to my home state, you meet people that seems like a random sample of the worlds population. We have Italian, French, German, African, English and all other types of people, yet none develope into soccer stars. Besides genetics, we have great grass fields and the kids here love to get out and play games, yet they do not play soccer. The weather is warm even in the winter time, yet soccer pickup games barely compare to the flag or touch football varieties. Until you get players (like Clint Dempsey from rural Texas - let him be an example of what can be) consistently coming from the south like they do from California, then you will see a better USA national team.

Until that happens, expect 4 WC wins every 20 years.

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