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November 14, 2007


Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Supposedly, during World War 2, if a sentry was confronted by someone claiming to be an American but who didn't know that day's password, the sentry would ask "Who's in first place in the National League?" or something to that effect. The concept being that only a Real American would know such things. Perhaps when I was of soldiering age I might have known: nowadays I'd be shot on the spot.

The only sport I follow these days is football, and only casually at that. I'm following the fortunes of the University of Oregon team (Number Two, as I write this) and will pay more attention to the NFL as the playoffs get closer.

Here in the dank Pacific Northwest the two big professional sports stories are (1) the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team will probably head to Oklahoma, and (2) Seattle has received a Major League Soccer franchise. To which I say ... [Yawn].

The Sonics won the NBA title in 1979, which created excitement hereabouts. But that was nearly 29 years ago, and I haven't cared about them in ages. So good riddance.

The new soccer team (that's what we enlightened Yanks call football, overseas readers) is interesting mostly because of its ownership which includes Microsoft gazillionaire Paul Allen and TV personality Drew Carey.

According to an article in this morning's paper, a few teams in the league are actually making money. We'll see about the Seattle effort. Isn't soccer played in the summer? That's when grass grows around here and it'll be difficult to decide which will be more exciting to watch.

* The previous item ought to rank as one of my all-time dumb cliché and trite idea-fests. If this blog had lots of ads and a tip-jar I'd probably have a spot-the-varmints contest and offer a prize. But we don't. So I won't.

* A favorite Las Vegas pastime is imploding outdated casinos. And they do it with style! Well, in Las Vegas style. Here is a link to The Daughter's video of yesterday's demise of the New Frontier.

Speaking of Vegas, we'll be there next week. Posting by me will be lighter, and I'm hoping that the Thanksgiving weekend will distract you from heavy blog-reading anyway.



posted by Donald at November 14, 2007


Maybe there's a critical tipping point at which the beautiful people percentage of a given population is large enough, relative to the regular guy percentage, to make a soccer franchise viable, and maybe Seattle has reached that point...but I doubt it. I just don't see soccer taking off anywhere in the States. I can't savvy why otherwise brilliant business types can't see that and go on throwing their money down these wells.

Posted by: ricpic on November 14, 2007 4:21 PM

If you check out ESPN-Deportes, the Spanish language equivalent of ESPN, you'll be most probably horrified to see that futball or football is now played practically year round what with all of the different country leagues, pan-European championships, and world league championships. And I'm not counting the World Cup or all of the elimination games world-wide to getting there.

It is an illusion to think that we Americans are the only sport-crazed humans in the world. We're just crazed about the wrong sport.

Posted by: DarkoV on November 14, 2007 4:36 PM

Soccer is boring. But so is baseball, and I'm a huge fan of it. But I grew up with baseball.

Immigrants to the US who are interested in sports have an easy time getting into (American) football and basketball, but not baseball, probably for the same reason that Americans can't get excited about soccer.

Also, a business point against soccer in the US is that soccer doesn't work particularly well with commercial TV, unlike pretty much all the more popular American sports.

If soccer is your "cultural sport", you'll be a huge fan, but it's hard to get into it if you didn't grow up with it.

Posted by: Foobarista on November 14, 2007 5:32 PM

"Who's in first place in the National League?" or something to that effect. The concept being that only a Real American would know such things. Perhaps when I was of soldiering age I might have known: nowadays I'd be shot on the spot.

Well, at least you'd still know how to answer in November, I hope.

Oregon #2 already? Cool. I lost track a couple of weeks ago, when (oh by the way) I came to Korea to teach English.

Drew Carey a Seattle soccer owner, eh? When my cousin played for the Earthquakes, my uncle met Carey, a major booster of the rival L.A. Galaxy and a big amateur photographer.

Posted by: J. Goard on November 15, 2007 8:36 AM

This is the most spectacularly ignorant and narrow minded post in the history of 2blowhards.

Posted by: James Dudek on November 15, 2007 8:42 AM

James -- Thank you, thank you. It's great to find out that I've finally done something outstanding!

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on November 15, 2007 9:39 AM

The Sonics and the threats to move the team exemplify some of the worst aspects of professional sports, namely wealthy team owners who use the threat of moving to try to blackmail cities into using taxpayer money to build them opulent new facilities filled with luxury boxes and expensive "club" seats.

Posted by: Peter on November 15, 2007 9:54 AM

90 minutes of soccer is almost always boring, but it often boils down to very good 10-minute highlights. Try watching the BBC's "Match of the Day" to see what I mean.

Posted by: dearieme on November 15, 2007 10:34 AM

Will soccer become more viable commercially as 1) more US kids (and esp. girls) are raised on soccer, and 2) the US becomes ever more Latino? There's a lot of soccer on the Spanish language stations in SoCal.

Excellent implosion vid, btw. Was that a lot of fireworks before the explosion? Only in Vegas would they feel that a bldg implosion isn't spectacular enough.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 15, 2007 11:35 AM

Guy doesn't care much for sports in general and soccer in particular, so his post is ignorant and narrow-minded? Put me down in his column.


Posted by: Narr on November 15, 2007 12:24 PM

Michael -- So far as I can tell, those were indeed fireworks. LV seems to be one of those places where entertainment biz and reality seriously merge.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on November 15, 2007 12:42 PM

Sports is probably the most important cultural touchstone in the United States and around the world. Dismissing sports is indeed narrow minded.

For example, the soccer world cup is watched by over a billion people world wide. Never before in the history of the world has humanity been brought together by an event in such a manner.

If you look beyond just what is happening on the actual field itself, sports is an all encompassing phenomenon.

Economics, myth making in real time, history,'s all wrapped up in the world of sports.

Posted by: James Dudek on November 15, 2007 1:31 PM

James, Narr -- I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of sports as a cultural phenomenon. I even think there's a big not-yet-filled opening out there for someone who writes about it as such, not as a conventional sportswriter but as someone who takes the whole shebang (design, business, technology, personalities, etc -- your list here) into account. I don't think Donald and I dismiss sports, though -- we're just confessing that at our stage in life we aren't tuned-in. It may be a shortcoming, but nothing wrong with admitting to having a shortcoming, is there? At least we don't pretend to know about things we don't really know about. Plus, y'know, it's interesting to live as a non-sports-obsessed person in a sports-obsessed culture. It's its own challenge and predicament.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 15, 2007 2:07 PM

Gotta admit I was just trying to stir the pot a little (as Donald may have been too) each his own. I visit (and love) this site all the time and I don't do so for the sports coverage!

That said I do love sports and in particular soccer.

Posted by: James Dudek on November 15, 2007 2:34 PM

Ah yes, the "billions of sports fans can't be wrong" argument. I'll leave the rest of the rhetoric to speak for itself.


Posted by: Narr on November 15, 2007 3:16 PM

Ah yes, the "billions of sports fans can't possibly be right" argument. Good to see elitism is alive and well.

Don't worry Narr, we'll continue on our merry way without you and it's your loss.

Posted by: James Dudek on November 16, 2007 9:44 AM

Soccer has been "the next big thing" since I was watching my little brother running around the pitch back in the Seventies. Now I'm watching my nephews, and it's still just a way for yuppie parents to wear out their tykes.

My argument is that for the entire world (excepting the US) it's their peasent pastime. You need a field (or a street or whatever) and a ball (or a tied-up bundle of rags, like Pele'). We already have sport for the underclass-it's called basketball!

Our local entry in "major" league soccer, the New England Revolution, plays in the NFL stadium built by the Patriots (same owner), and they cover half the place with canvas because there's no need for the seats; we're talking about the highest-drawing and best-marketed team in the league, playing this weekend in their 4 championship game in 6 years. They STILL can't get a sellout!

However, when the stadium is host to a World Cup qualifier or "friendly" match, it's banged out by 65,000 people who are all in the local ESL programs. But the concept of a game at the top end of the sporting pyramid ending in a "nil-nil" tie and having it count for something positive is anathema to everything America stands for!

Posted by: Brutus on November 16, 2007 10:54 AM

Sure soccer is a low scoring game.

To combat this, I suggest that they assigned 6 points to each goal and then gave the team a penalty without the goalkeeper in goal for an extra point after each goal is scored.

In that way instead of the score being 2-1, the score would be 14-7 which is apparently OK with Americans.

Posted by: James Dudek on November 16, 2007 11:12 AM

Of course I'm an elitist. Everyone is an elitist when it comes to things they care about, including you, James--unless you're going to tell us that you married the first girl that came along, or that you enjoy watching pick-up soccer played by 4th graders as much as you enjoy the World Cup matches.

The tastes of the many can certainly be acknowledged, but they need play no role in a rational person's view of what's good, bad, or important. And as you have alluded to, there are eleventy-gazillion places to enjoy and talk about sports; one of the things -I- like about 2B is that it isn't one of them.


Posted by: Narr on November 16, 2007 1:00 PM

Sure is a low-scoring game, James, but so is hockey, which I find to be the most exciting game to watch live. The end of a hockey game tied 0-0 finds players flying up and odwn the ice, each trying to be a hero, but soccer finds most nil-nil games ending even deeper in the defensive shell than the beginning.

And don't even get me started on the officials. The Netherlands-Portugal game in the last World Cup was a travesty, and if the Russian ref wasn't doing business, I'll eat my nephew's shin guards!

Posted by: Brutus on November 16, 2007 2:26 PM

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