Just when you thought MLS was becoming a legitimate part of the American sports landscape, the commissioner, former NFL Europe Chief (um, how’d that league end up again?) Don Garber, has to open his big trap and set soccer back a few years. And what could lure “the Don” to come out swinging like a vintage Rock-em Sock-em Robot?
Well, basically pundit Michael Wilbon called Toronto FC fans “minor league” and “garbage” for throwing streamers onto the field during corner kicks. How dare he?
This would not offend me as Wilbon calls something “garbage” about every five seconds. Its usually his buddy Kornheiser’s shirt or Stat Boy’s daily attempt at humor instead of 30,000 maniacal TFC fans.
If he had called Raiders’ fans “garbage”, Roger Goodell wouldn’t release a statement.
No, Goodell would simply smile and Dude-like respond “well, that’s like, your opinion, man.”
But Garber? He has to start a skirmish.
Garber responded to Wilbon by arguing that unlike other sports, soccer fans “are a part of the game experience.”
Um, what the hell is he talking about?
Has he never been to an NFL game (in America) where on 4th and 1 near the goal line you can actually hear your ear drums explode (I know, sounds impossible doesn’t it)?
Has he never seen those Anaheim or California or whatever Angels fans waiving around their little rally bats and worshipping that monkey from Outbreak.
He’s definitely never been to an NHL game in Canada, where they have the only hockey venues in the world that feature more fights in one section of the arena than on the ice.
Listen, soccer is different than other sports, there’s no doubt about that. But you can’t claim that it’s the only sport where
“fans are part of the game experience.” If you do, you not only end up sounding like an idiot, but you also risk alienating fans of those other sports by insinuating their favorite is inferior.
And MLS does not need to be in the business of alienating fans.
I must admit, I have always thought the practice of throwing streamers on the field was stupid. Beside the point that it creates more work for the field crew (I know, what do I care?) it could interfere with play.
I think it’s even more stupid though that the Commish is choosing to take a throw-away remark by a pundit and turn it into a public squabble. Soccer’s merits need to be publicly debated in America, but debating the merits of throwing streamers onto a soccer field?
Well, like the streamers themselves, it’s just garbage.