This World Cup is popular. The TV ratings are explosive. All three Seattle sports radio stations are talking about the sport. But there may be a "problem."
Listening to Matt Gaschk (SoundersFC.com) on with Dick Fain (KJR-AM) an interesting topic came up.
What kind of bounce can MLS get from this surge?
Gaschk correctly noted that in 2010 there was a small bounce, but it faded. With larger ratings will there just be a larger bounce to fade away, or can we do something about it?
We can do something about it - not the league, nor the teams, us.
Let's just call it soft evangelism of pleasant community.
Clint Dempsey: Captain America, damn fine Sounder
You watch the World Cup every four years because you love America. You know the stars - Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and current Captain Clint Dempsey. These men ply their trade every week.Clint does it right here in Seattle.
The concept is simple. We need not be defensive. We need not attack. Just open your arms. Every new viewer of the international game is a potential fan of the local game. They can see Dempsey right were with us. Yedlin is here as well. There is nothing to defend. MLS is rapidly improving.
I lapse. We all lapse.
But by opening and welcoming there is potential for growth. Sharing pleasure does not diminish it, but instead strengthens it. As radio stations talk about America's contest against Germany don't call in and call them noobs and demand that they never cover the sport because they are unworthy. Do not decide that since they don't know a 4-3-3 from a 4-5-1 they are unworthy. Did you get bullied into being a fan?
Why would that work for others?
Instead invite the uber-casual but passionate for the United States' run to come to an MLS game with you and enjoy it how you do. The people who like watching the "good leagues" can be told about the Five-Match Pack (Portland, Tottenham, Houston, Vancouver and LA). That's a strong mix of World Cup talent and passion at a reasonable price.
Do your coworkers, friends and family watching the games love seeing the power of community and passion in the stands? Talk to them about the power of Starfire. Watch an away game with them. Do not leave them with the impression of a negative soccer fan demanding respect.
Open your heart and the game to someone willing to give it a chance. Right now tens of millions in America are giving soccer a chance. When the United States beats Germany that number will get larger. Share your passions with care and understanding. Make the long play.
People understand passion and enthusiasm. They tend not to understand when that passion for sport becomes anger. There will never be a time when everyone likes everything you do at the same level. Instead they get to like a little bit of what you do and expose you to new things, just as you will expose them to this game, this team and this community.
So I ask of you. Be soft evangelists. Be pleasant. Share our community.
It's about to get a lot bigger.