Update: Salk was on the Bob & Groz show later to talk about his comments and this post. You can hear it here at around 29:35. He sort of apologizes for going beyond his criticism of the WIAA rule and trashing soccer in general. That's fair enough. He obviously doesn't like the sport, but he doesn't have to, and I'm not going to trash him for it as long as he avoids the 'wussy' crap. And credit to Groz, who's always been a decent supporter of the Sounders in an unfriendly environment. But none of that changes the fact that the radio support of the team and sport is absolutely embarrassing in this town with the support this team gets.
"Soccer is the wussiest, stupidest sport." That was the quote — uttered by 710ESPN's Mike Salk — that finally drove me over the edge this morning as I was driving to work.
Since ESPN bought out what was once KIRO 710 in 2009 and turned it into a full-time sports station, Seattle's been fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough) to have two stations dedicated to sports talk radio — the other being KJR 950.
While much of sports radio drives me crazy and I'm happy to be able to turn it off and switch over to KEXP fairly often during my commute, the fact that there's two means that I can instead just switch over to the other one during the 85% of air time dedicated to divorce lawyer commercials or the 10% dedicated to crazy people calling in from Bothell to tell the Seahawks and Mariners GMs how to do their jobs.
Any Sounders fan knows that Seattle sports radio is pretty much a wasteland for soccer coverage. Despite the fact that the Sounders draw more fans per game than the Mariners and the town doesn't even have an NBA team anymore and never had an NHL team (despite winning a Stanley Cup in 1917), you won't hear word one about the Sounders during any of the general sports coverage.
Both stations have a show dedicated to the Sounders. 710 is technically the Sounders' radio partner, as you'll see on their media page, and it broadcasts a weekly show. But it's clear that the show is ghettoized. It's on at noon on Saturday, which is why even as a staunch Sounders fan I've never heard more than 10 minutes of it, because I'm never near a radio at noon on a Saturday. And I've never heard a single word of promotion of the show from either advertising spots or any of the other hosts. There is no interaction with the show from anyone or anything else at the station, which screams 'contractual obligation'.
KJR, meanwhile, has a new segment this season in which they bring Arlo White on for half an hour on Thursday afternoons to answer questions and actually interact with host Mike 'Gas Man' Gastineau. And while Mike's questions are of the "what's this soccer I've heard so much about?" variety, he's at least respectful and makes an effort. And the calls they take are from knowledgeable Sounders fans with good questions and tend to highlight the quality of fan the team has in this area.
So my inclination has been leaning towards KJR anyway. But to hear such contempt this morning for a sport that so many people in this town love was the final straw. Admittedly my perception of the station is heavily weighted by what I hear in the morning commute — which is Brock & Salk being actively hostile to soccer and the Sounders when the topic rarely comes up — and in the afternoon commute — which is the outstanding and onetime voice of the Sounders Kevin Calabro just pretending the team doesn't exist.
So I pulled 710 off of my presets, which means to listen to it I'll have to manually tune to it, which has a chance of happening when Hell freezes over. I recommend you do the same (or at least limit your 710 listening to the Sounders show and Mariners games).
So long ESPN710 until you can give more than middle finger to the city's third most popular sports franchise.