Thursday, March 19, 2009

What was the MLS thinking?

By Nicole
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Today is arguably one of the busiest sports days of the year. This year, it's even busier with the inclusion of the World Baseball Classic. But even the WBC was smart enough not to schedule the USA for tonight, knowing they'd get no ratings against the first night/day of March Madness.

In addition to those two, it's also the first night of college hockey tournaments. And while I know we college hockey fans are a small crowd, my guess is that we outnumber MLS fans nationwide. Think of this weekend as similar to conference tournaments in basketball where the winners get automatic bids to the 16 team tournament that leads to the Frozen Four and the National Championship.

So why, oh why did the MLS choose to open their season tonight of all nights?

A Thursday night opener is odd to me to begin with. It's as though they realized that Friday and Saturday this weekend were out due to the tournament, but didn't think about the fact that games are played on Thursday, too.

Here's a confession: I know very little about the MLS and I'm a life-long soccer player and fan. I just can't get into it. In an given week I watch at least one or two EPL or UEFA games from across the ocean, but I never, ever watch MLS games on TV. I've been to just one - the All-Star Game a few years ago in Chicago against Chelsea.

Frankly, it's late and I really don't care that much, so I can't be sure that there's not a precedent for this day, or the third Thursday of March, or Thursday's in general, but even if there were, I think I'd forgo all precendent to not play my season opener (and Seattle's very first MLS game EVER) the same night that everyone else in the country is busy watching someone else. I do know last season started on a Saturday, which leads me to believe that this year is special.

If you're going to do a weeknight anyway, why not do last night, Wednesday, when little else was going on?

And if I'm not a big soccer fan to begin with, this kind of lack of forethought just gives me more reason to think that soccer's not a real sport. I can hear detractors saying that if the MLS were for real and if soccer in America wanted to be taken seriously, they would know better than to try and find themselves an audience tonight.

You just don't mess with March Madness. No matter whether they've watched a single college game or not, every person in America gets swept into the whole tournament/bracket fever. Ladies who don't know a double-dribble from a travel and guys who don 't know Morehead State from North Dakota State suddenly fill out brackets and join pools.

March Madness is as universal as the Super Bowl in terms of wide appeal.

What was the MLS thinking?

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