Gooooooooooaaaaalll! All I have to do is say that, and I'm confident you know that I'm about to talk about soccer. There was an exhibition match here in Atlanta last night at the Georgia Dome that drew a record crowd for a soccer game. The match was between Mexico and Nigeria, and there were over 68,000 people in attendance, the most ever for a soccer game in Atlanta.

 

There's talk of a Major League Soccer team here in Atlanta. I'll admit to being surprised that MLS has done as well as it has in the United States. Soccer's got a few strikes against it here in the US, and I thought I'd dwell on some of that today.

 

To go back to the exhibition game between Mexico and Nigeria, the final score was 0-0. Nobody won, just a tie. That's not something Americans often go for in professional sports. We like to have clear winners and losers in a game. Ties are messy and unsatisfying. Related to that is that you can watch a game and, well, nothing happens. Don't get me wrong! There's lots of athletics involved, there's a lot of playing going on, but to oversimplify things, it's just the ball being passed around, moved up and down the field. There's not the same sense of progress as watching a long drive in football, or seeing the bases fill up in baseball. Granted, basketball is similar, but the score advances quite a bit in basketball.

 

Another argument against soccer that I hear, and used to ascribe to myself, is that it doesn't suit television well. It's pretty much non-stop, without built in pauses, pauses which are important for commercial breaks, where is where television still makes a lot of its money. Football, you've got breaks between downs, as well as time-outs, possession changes, etc. Baseball, between each inning. The same can't be said for soccer, though this can be dealt with. Europeans do love watching it on TV, after all, and NASCAR is similar, in that there's long periods of relatively routine activity going on that can be interrupted by commercials. In NASCAR, I've seen commercials interrupted when something major happens on the track, like a wreck or such, so I imagine the same could be done for soccer.