Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ten Facts That Might Be Wrong: Part 3

Well, we're probably only going to squeeze two more posts out of this (and this).

And it's actually not because of laziness (at least not on our part) but moreso because of what looks to be laziness on their part.

All of the old skool journalists out there—the WIlbons and the Mariottis—cry about bloggers and how any idiot with a net connection can now start publishing like it's a bad thing. In reality they are probably just scared of the competition and maybe a little upset because many of barriers to entering the field of sportswriting they suffered to get over have gone 'poof.'

Well, not to get all preachy here, but a) most bloggers understand that they are not journalists and b) the market tends to sort these things out. Bloggers that are smart, funny, informative, and accurate should survive. Bloggers who are too lazy to use a shift key or check their facts probably will not.

So I feel like I'm subverting this very belief by continuing to reward these guys with more traffic. But in the interest of completion, we'll do it reluctantly maybe a couple of more times.

Fortunately, the claims made in that post get easier to combine as they become a little more qualitative. So this post will take on claims 3-6, which basically say that the media is under-serving the soccer market.

Really? The media's job is to deliver an audience to advertisers. If that audience were there—specifically in this instance a soccer audience large enough to earn a profit from—the media would find it and serve it.

The fact that the soccer ratings in this country are not that great (see post number two) is pretty much an indication that the media is giving soccer about the right amount of coverage. That is "not much." Yes, there is a channel dedicated just to soccer (Fox Soccer Channel) but that is subsidized across all cable subscribers.

The same way you probably don't watch Lifetime, your cable bill helps keep it on the air, just as your 30-something single female neighbor whose life revolves around Rachel Ray and food porn keeps Max Bretos on your TV.

Has soccer grown in the US as a spectator sport? Maybe. The attendance numbers for MLS have been trending up over the last few years. But if you look at average attendance for every year of the league it's taken a decade to get back to where it started, meaning that after ten years the league is not quite back to where it was attendance-wise for it inaugural season.

Is that the only measure of "spectator"? No. And I'm pretty sure that when I go to my local bars to watch EPL matches on Saturday and Sunday mornings there are generally more people there now than there were two years ago. Do I have a reliable measure for this? No. Does that mean there has been an explosion? No. Am I encouraged by this? Yes. But it shouldn't lead to wild claims about soccer's popularity in the U.S.

Claim 4 is kind of silly on its face. Again, if there is a huge market there, it will get served. Media companies are in the business of business. And if you believe in efficient markets then the Latino market is not being underserved. Again, look at the Univision numbers (again in post number two) for the US v Mexico friendlies. They know how big the market is and they are giving it what they want. It's not just big matches. There is plenty of Primera División fútbol on Spanish-language TV in the US.

Some of the remaining claims are just plain stupid, the best being maybe this (and not just for the obfuscating grammar):

"I have seen stories about the most popular NFL jerseys in sales. These reports never mention that MLS Galaxy jerseys (and for an individual player, David Beckham), and USA national team jerseys are big sellers, and in the case of the former, they sell MORE THAN ANY NFL team or player name."
You know why? Because David Beckham doesn't play in the fucking NFL! He plays in the MLS. Perhaps you'd like to also complain that his stats don't show up in MLB box scores.

Maybe the author meant to compare Beckham to all sports jerseys. And he makes this claim:

"Beckham’s Galaxy jersey has also been the biggest-selling of ALL adidas jerseys of ALL sports in the ENTIRE WORLD since it was first released."
Really? Okay. Data please, source it. Oh, that's right, there is no sourced data for any claim in this entire fucking piece.

Still, the one about adidas sales figures I might believe. But I looked, and couldn't find anything to support it. But I did find out that Becks can't even beat himself. Yes, he sold a very impressive 250,000 Galaxy jerseys through July of 07, but that is dwarfed by the million he sold at his first six months at Real Madrid.

Really, this isn't even fun or interesting anymore.

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