The sport of soccer continues to grow in popularity here in the states, but for years I’ve had to defend my love of the sport to those that deemed it “boring”.
I used to work at the country’s number one rated sports radio station here in New York and would be mocked and ignored by the station’s “personalities” that believed they knew what the sports fan wanted to see and hear about…and according to these “experts” it wasn’t soccer.
My vindication keeps growing as the the European and world leagues now get plenty of air time on television, draw in crowds at bars and MLS continues to expand. The league started in 1996 with ten teams and is now finishing its 23rd season with 23 teams. While the level of play is not up there with the best leagues in Europe, you cannot deny that MLS is making major inroads on the US sports landscape.
At the same time interest in the World Cup and leagues like La Liga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga and Serie A continues to grow. Ronaldo and Messi are household names to young sports fans.
I’m a bit of an NFL football fan. My team is the hapless New York Jets. However, I found my interest declining as I watched more and more of the “real” football…a.k.a. soccer. The action in soccer doesn’t stop for time outs and commercials like other sports. The clock keeps running. The athletes on the pitch are in top shape and run for close to 90 minutes.
Many non fans complain that there isn’t enough scoring. However, I don’t think they realize that defense is a part of the game to be admired and that a hard fought 0-0 game can actually be quite exciting (if you understand the game). Compare that to American football.
My favorite source to prove my point is this 2010 article from the Wall Street Journal. The study revealed that an average NFL game contained just 11 minutes of actual action. In other words, a game that is comprised of 60 minutes on the clock and takes over three hours to broadcast consists of JUST 11 MINUTES OF ACTION. Fans that say American football is more exciting than soccer should consider the following from this study:
They are actually watching one hour of commercials
As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps.
56% of the broadcast is showing replays.
NFL football is the rare time based sport where it's common for the clock to run for long periods of time while nothing is happening.
Once again NFL fans see just 11 minutes of action per game.
Of course to each their own, but my message to those quick to dismiss soccer as boring, is don’t knock it unless you try it…and maybe fans can use all those commercial times outs during NFL games to tune in to see some real football.