The Bundesliga season started over the weekend, and short a homage to the old Soccer Made in Germany show on public television, it's worth asking about that league's appeal in the United States. In recent years, it's never been exactly high.
The language barrier looms, even with the connections to American players. The Bundesliga normally gets roundup style coverage from English-language outlets. There's a very good chance that most American fans know more about mid-tier English Premier League clubs than they do about most of the Bundesliga.
Part of that is access. The Bundesliga isn't normally found on regular cable. Though the teams featuring American players get attention, the same is true for several leagues in Europe that lack mainstream coverage. Courtesy of nationally available over-air games, the Premier League is the only league in Europe to get that mainstream appeal. Non-soccer fans know more about the Premier League from watching sports shows than they ever would've expected to learn. Though the Champions League can provide the same thing for individual clubs, it's not likely to raise the profile of entire leagues.
Meanwhile, there's an ongoing argument about the best league in Europe that normally flatters the Bundesliga. The quality of play, the crowds, and the commitment are all there. So is the idea that this is a league not dependent on benefactors putting hundreds of millions of dollars into a club. It's a throwback ideal, but it gets a contemporary voice through German soccer.
Add to that US National Team players regularly contributing to their Bundesliga clubs along with the nationality of the US coach, and there's an obvious link between the senior squad and Germany's topflight. Still, American players have contributed for years and it hasn't turned the Bundesliga into something that American networks fight to cover. How those connections build general interest remains an open question.
It doesn't help that even with the level of respect it gets, the Bundesliga can still be seen as a feeder league. The best German players – Jurgen Klinsmann among them – move to Serie A or the Premier League. It's almost taken for granted that their careers won't be spent entirely in Germany. When bigger clubs go shopping, the Bundesliga loses.
Corner Rating: (with 1 the Bundesliga struggling for appeal in the USA and 11 a sharp increase in interest) 6.
Last Week's Corner: We didn't get the expected press release punishing comments detrimental to the League, so we lower our rating from 9 to 5.