Wednesday, July 29, 2009
MLS in the UK
This is extraordinary when one considers how many British journalists/broadcasters/pundits feel comfortable passing judgment on a league it turns out they've not been able to watch with any regualrity. That, according to a press release by ESPN, is all about to change. ESPN will be showing live MLS games in the UK beginning in August.
I have long been an advocate for easily-accessed European football on American television screens. La Liga, the Premier League, and Serie A all available to bored sporting neutrals on a Saturday morning on a basic sport cable package channel can only help break down many North American myths about the Beautiful Albeit Boring and Fake Injury Prone Game. North American Exposure might also help wrest MLS from MLS fans, those insular nerds who do things like blame Beckham for responding to familial insults and hurl beer cups at linesman before going home to flood the internet with false Designated Player rumours. A fresh, young, American audience knowledgeable about football and not willing to wait for Garber to slop his league through ill-advised franchises in small soup midwest cities playing football on covered gridirons can only be good for North American club soccer.
I also think regular, live European exposure to the league will be just as beneficial. The UK will see what the fuss is about with Yankee Doodle Soccerball. Players will get a better sense of what travelling overseas will mean for their careers, cutting down on the "I didn't expect the quality of play to be this high" meme among MLS newcomers. And MLS will be suddenly accountable to an international audience, and over time with good investment and careful, well thought-out measures for player development and domestic growth, capture some overseas viewers tired of the top-heavy, bigger-takes-all European league system.
Or not. Time will of course tell. But football has always been a game played silently on a green pitch surrounded by a wall of noise. It's high time we let stop the bullshit and let MLS speak for itself, live via satellite.