Sock it to the media for not giving soccer fair play

by James Geluso

You wouldn't know it from the coverage in the media, but the United States now has a first-division professional soccer league. Ten teams, including the Dallas Burn, are battling it out.

But do you see the scores on ESPN's sports ticker? No.

Do you see the highlights on the evening news? No.

The Houston Chronicle didn't even provide a score the day after the Dallas-Kansas City game. It wasn't a late game, and they ran a standings table -- it just didn't include the results from the night before. (Dallas won 3-0, by the way.)

The Chronicle has barely acknowledged that the league exists. In three weeks of play, there has been one article, written by an Associated Press staffer who doesn't like soccer. (Only soccer gets this treatment. Would they send a writer who hates baseball to cover a baseball game?)

Worst of all, even the U.S. National Team gets covered by someone who has no idea what's going on in the game.

Why does soccer get such treatment? Is it because it's boring? No. Golf gets plenty of ink, and color pictures to boot.

It's because of the fans.

There are lots of people who call themselves soccer fans. Maybe they played as kids, or maybe they enjoyed the World Cup. But they don't watch games, or go to games, because they never know when they're on.

They don't know because the media never tell them. And the media never tell them because they don't ask.

That's right, it's not the media's fault. Certainly, there are plenty of people in the media who want soccer to fail because they're scared they'll have to write about it and won't know what to say. But mostly it's because they think nobody cares. And soccer "fans" haven't proved them wrong.

It'd sure be nice to be able to sit back like fans of the "big four" and just get really excited when the championships come around. Soccer fans don't have that luxury.

The next three years are crucial to American soccer. Major League Soccer is very well-financed, but simply won't survive without fan support.

It's crucial that the league survive, so that America will have a training ground for the National Team. Certainly the world's greatest country should have at least a fighting chance to win the World Cup.

That means you, the soccer fans, need to write, call and pester the Chronicle, ESPN, Prime Sports and everyone else. Then, bug bars until they show the games. And watch them. Someday, we'll be able to relax with the knowledge that National Team games will be hyped in the media like they should be. But only if we demand coverage now.

(If you want to know when the games are on, check out http://www.io.com/user/atlemar/

soccer.html for a schedule.)

Geluso is a senior journalism major.

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