Fans' View

Fans’ View: Too much soccer on TV?

Photo: Rashaad Jorden

As much as I like variety in my life, I — like many people — am a creature of habit. That includes waking up at roughly the same time, eating (essentially) the same things and leaving for the train station at the same time (usually).

So I wonder… Am I becoming a creature of habit in my soccer-watching habits?

Or just more selective?

I’ll explain.

One of the my highlights of any week is watching the Union play, so at the start of every month, one of the first things I set up on my calendar is the Union schedule. Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs this season. But I am encouraged by our 1-1 draw in Kansas City before the Gold Cup-forced break.

Oh, the Gold Cup… I consider myself a U.S. fan. So despite the fact this wasn’t our A-team taking on Panama, I should have been excited considering it’s not every week that I see the now-Bruce Arena led squad play. And that I am of Panamanian descent.

But when the match started, I could only think… damn, I have a book to finish for a book club meetup. So half of my mind was focused on asking myself who should Bruce Arena keep in his lineup when he has a full squad at his disposal while the other half was thinking… I hope I can remember the key events in this murder mystery.

Considering how underwhelming the U.S. performance was against Panama (especially during portions of the second half), maybe I didn’t miss much by not emotionally investing myself in the match. And the worse part (if it can be classified as “worse”) is I am barely trying to convince myself I should watch the Martinique match inside of possibly going to see a zydeco band on the Penn campus.

Maybe this year’s Confederations Cup would have tickled my fancy more. After all, this event’s featured the current World Cup holders (Germany), arguably the best player in the world (Ronaldo), the U.S. main arch rival (Mexico) and the 2018 World Cup hosts. I know very little about the squad the host nation will probably field during next year’s World Cup, so the Considerations Cup would have the best — or perhaps, more accurately — the only opportunity to check out the players that might make Russia proud next summer.

Except that I could barely force myself to watch spurts of it (It would have helped in the U.S. or Japan [another country I have lived in] had qualified for the tournament). Work commitments prevented me from watching the final. That said, I don’t feel deprived about that fact I watched virtually none of the Confederations Cup.

I’ll probably get more excited about the sport in general when the Premier League starts. After all, I am a Chelsea fan so I am eager to find out if the Blues will repeat. Obviously, I’ll gradually more and more excited about the soccer world outside of the MLS as the World Cup approaches.

But my seeming indifference to some soccer competitions is a symptom of there being too much soccer on TV. Or rather, too much soccer on TV for me to get emotionally invested in each match that’s on TV. I’m at an age where I can remember there only being like one or two soccer games televised a week. Often, the “less is more” (in regards to watching soccer on TV) is really beneficial for the soul.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I’m guessing you made the same decision I did for next Wednesday, stay home and watch the Union game rather than trek down to the Linc for the Gold Cup semifinal. I still haven’t figured out who’s brilliant idea it was to schedule those opposite each other, but the saying is “Club and Country”, not the other way around.

  2. Matt Custer says:

    Ah youth! How brief your memory.
    When tubes were small and images usually black and white, there was no soccer to be found outside our own fields. The Ukranian Nationals were the only big name in town, but the game was confined to a few regional hot spots. I do remember one Ukee championship game that got covered by local TV, but that was almost as rare as a Keon Daniel goal.
    The array of choices to watch Footy On The Telly is hardly cause for concern – it is reason for rejoicing! Perfectly all right to be emotionally invested in your favorite teams (I’m not sure that I could get much involved watching the Copa Sudamericana, even if I had fuboTV or Fox Soccer Match Pass). But at least I have the opportunity.
    Having so many choices fulfills any number of my reasons to watch different teams and competitions:
    . The quest for Beauty: the artistry of well-connected play and balletic agility seen only at the top levels of the game.
    . The strategy: as a coach and trainer, watching tendencies and tactics is simply inspirational in planning future practice sessions
    . The mistakes: also instructive for training your team how to do things the right way.
    . The opportunity to learn: I used to beg my players to watch all the Footy they could. I’ve read stories about Pulisic!’s near addiction to soccer on TV as a kid.
    . The refs: The English and Germans must have the best in the world. Watch how deliberate they are before showing red. I try (and usually fail) to duplicate their calm approach and interpretations. And as someone who once re-certified in a class taught by Geiger, it’s a hoot to watch him violate his own norms.
    . Its existence: Most TV sucks and a bad soccer game is better than 80% of everything else on the screen.
    Despair not in having so many choices. Watch what you want for whatever reason you have. It could be worse, because it was.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I remember the days of few and far between. Watching the Copa Mundial in 1978 since it was only available on the Spanish channel. Watching New York Cosmos games where the Spanish announcer called English midfielder Keith Eddy, Eddy Keith. Those were the days…

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Hell… I’m 36 and I remember not being able to find soccer on TV. The point of the article is well taken, but we are very lucky to live in the US (for many reasons), but we get to a taste of SO many leagues around the world. I believe there is more EPL available on American TV than in England. Crazy. Enjoy it all!

  4. Too much soccer?! Nonsense.

  5. Mr. Jorden, I had to start this response several times. I cannot disagree with you more, but it is coming from the position of a soccer fan that dates back to the late sixties, when I began to play as a six year old for one of the earliest Delaware County youth clubs. I was a lucky guy, in that my grandfather had played growing up in Kensington, and I had at least heard of the game before. Unfortunately, he was dead and not giving me much information about the games that he had played in the ethnic leagues. We were blessed with enthusiastic coaches that had NO IDEA whatsoever about the game, and were learning as they went. Their learning, aside from the few that actually were immigrants and had played the game, was from watching Soccer Made In Germany, in the days before videotape was an option. It was broadcast at about 11:00 or 11:30 on PBS, which made it tough for those volunteers, to stay up late, watch clips of several games, and try to recreate it for their players on a practice field without the benefit of replay. Occasional games on the Wide World of Sports tended to surface, usually during the World Cup. Rumors of Pele, Johan Cruyff, Eusebio, George Best and the like filtered down to us, but we had no idea of what they could do with the ball. Now, we are blessed with YouTube and the potential for replays, and can learn what we missed. When the Atoms started to play in Philadelphia, and NASL was founded, I thought that I had reached Nirvana, since I could occasionally make it to a LIVE game, and slightly more regularly see a professional level game on TV. We then, in the Philadelphia area, entered the desert where the Atoms folded, the Fury started and moved, and the best that we could see regularly was indoor soccer with the Fever and the Kixx. While that game was fun, I was happy to witness the beginning of attention to the international game, with the Men’s and Women’s teams making the regular appearances that led to an explosion of popularity of the beautiful game. The wealth of options that we have now allow the comparison of technical issues that I could only dream about as a kid. (Never having seen a Cruyff turn by the man when he was actually playing made it difficult to know how it could be so beautiful and effective.) We can appreciate the tiki-taka of Barcelona and Spain, and compare it to the Italian bunker defense, the German methodical march upfield and the Brazilian dazzling footwork, as well as watch the practitioners of those styles mix in with their clubmates. I miss Fox Soccer Channel, and Bein Sports doesn’t quite do what its predecessor did. I understand that 24 hours per day of soccer is not necessarily what anybody SHOULD watch, but I would miss anything less than what is on now, and the ability to occasionally opt for a Uruguayan club match. Sure beats SMiG, once a week in black and white.

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