We’re going to return to soccer, but we’re starting with baseball. Most of us know someone who is the classic baseball obsessive. Arcane trivia, stats obsessives, the type where 163 regular season games each year isn’t enough. We’ve probably also seen some of the same people get burned out on the sport and find something else to do with their time.
Now of course that would never happen with the people’s game, the glory game, or however else you want to call soccer to separate it from just another sport. After all, if you’re not following multiple teams in multiple leagues and tournaments, you’re hardly a fan at all. At least that’s how it can seem. The reality, on the other hand, is quite similar to any other sport. Too much, and the enthusiasm will begin to wane.
Before the latest expansion successes, there was a story that used to make the rounds in Major League Soccer. Every off-season was the same, trying to rebuild season ticket lists that had been hit by non-renewals. A season of intensely following a club was enough for some people. In that respect, MLS is hardly alone.
This is why the comparison to the other major league sports in North America is so important. With them, we see the lack of enthusiasm set in even though there’s only one league to follow. Even as we’re told the number of fans are increasing, we know people who were once obsessed with the sport falling away.
With soccer, there’s as many leagues and as many games as you want. and just like with those other sports, the broader numbers suggest the game is moving from strength to strength. But what about those once diehard fans that aren’t as enthusiastic anymore? Shouldn’t there be some concern with keeping them interested?
Even those fully committed to watching as much professional soccer as they can have to wonder why so much is available and whether or not this is really a good thing for the long-term health of the sport. For those not already picking and choosing, there’s no time to really reset. The game is always on. That’s great for some, but for others it’s the same scenario we see with baseball and without the benefit of an offseason.
Corner Rating: (with 1 the stakeholders recognizing that there’s such a thing as too much soccer and 11 continuing to crowd the calendar) 10.
Last Week’s Corner: Neutral site friendlies being a non-issue for FIFA stays a 10.