Friday, May 30, 2008

You are hereby commanded to like soccer

In case you missed the memo, tomorrow is the second edition of CBC’s Soccer Day in Canada. Designed after the popular Hockey Day in Canada feature that the Ceeb has run for several years now, the soccer show debuted last year during the U-20s. Suspect sweet features about dedicated volunteers that are just in it for the kids. There will probably be a story about a crazy lady that knits soccer jerseys in some remote town in Labrador, or something. It will be touching. The day will wrap up with the TFC/Galaxy game, which was supposed to feature the husband of a washed-up British pop star, but he had to cancel.

As a “soccer-guy” I’m not going to complain about the added exposure (although I am going to wonder why more effort wasn’t made to get the Canada/Brazil game on TV, especially when it was learned that Mr. Posh would be AWOL). I do question, however, what the CBC is seeing in soccer that is making it put the amount of effort into the sport it is. The TFC TV numbers continue to be weak, and Canadians continue to tune out of domestic footie. I can’t see many more than the 100,000 or so die-hards that watch TFC tuning in to watch much Soccer Day coverage.

It’s understood that the CBC has secured World Cup rights (in a move that very well might have saved CBC Sports), but Canadians have proved that they tune into the World Cup regardless of whether they have paid any attention for the four years in between.

Below, in the comments section of my post on Canada’s World Cup hopes, you can find a bit of a debate about the popularity of soccer . It’s pointed out that the soccer-is-about-to-break-through argument has been heard before. It’s never materialized. The point is well taken, but yet…

Someone must be seeing something—after all, no one expected the Red Patch Boys to materialize out of thin air upon the awarding of a soccer team to Toronto (least of all U-Sector, which is a whole other story). Maybe the great breakthrough is coming.

Or, the CBC might not know what it’s doing. That’s possible. Then again I could just still be bitter that it canceled This is Wonderland for no good reason.

16 comments:

sager said...

Putting on my Cranky Pants hat... when was there ever Baseball Day in Canada?

Duane Rollins said...

They make hats too?

I suspect there might have been one if the CBC had thought of it in 1993. As it is...soccer has better demographics. At least that's the theory, I suspect.

Greg said...

And considering Steve Nash should be a three-time MVP (not just two!) and the fact the Raps are a sellout and that recreational basketball is on the rise coast-to-coast, where's Basketball Day in Canada?

It's obvious the CBC is doing this to promote the game, and thusly TFC and thusly earn higher ratings and ad revenue.

I think you'd see Basketball Day in Canada, if the CBC had more of the Raps' broadcast rights, of course.

I think I can sum up soccer in a joke:

Question: Why do fans sing at soccer games?
Answer: They're bored.

sager said...

True enough .... only average schmoes like me must like baseball ... we're not thought of when they sit down in the boardrooms to plan this stuff.

sager said...

Soccer is meant to be endured and experienced ... I finally got it after that Adam Gopnik (he's Canadian!) piece in the New Yorker after the World Cup in '98, when he related how a European friend said, "Oh, you were expecting to be entertained?"

By the end of the piece, Gopnik related how he was watching NBA and NHL by satellite and those sports seems to offend his sensitivity -- goals coming from everywhere.

Duane Rollins said...

Blooger is eating comments, so if this appears more than once...my apologies.

I think this is another example of how the national sports media fails to look beyond the borders of Toronto when making decisions (and this is coming from a guy that lives in Toronto and loves the city).

Soccer is huge and getting bigger in T.O.

However, outside of Vancouver and, maybe, Montreal it doesn't play in the rest of the country (appreciating that their are some diehards everywhere).

True story: I was in Calgary for the start of the last World Cup. The night before the first game I started to call around looking for a place to watch the first game (it was a 9:30 a.m. start). After talking to about 10 pubs--mostly those that were British themed--I was finally directed to call the one . pub in the entire city that was going to show it.

The next day there was about 50 of us there to watch. The local media showed up to do some "look at the freaks" stories. It was real eye opener for a guy used to watching big soccer games in Toronto, where yo often have to show up an hour before the game to ensure that you have a seat.

Duane Rollins said...

And I don't sing 'cause I'm bored, but you're entitled to your opinion....

Mikey said...

As a grumpy high school baseball coach, it's Soccer Day in Canada because kids actually play the sport, as opposed to the halcyon days of t-ball and Little League of the 80s and 90s and those Catch-the-Taste Blue Jays. Except Martin, Morneau, Dempster and Bedard that is...

If Canada's soccer support is in the big three cities, why does Canada's national team continue to play in Deadmonton where their support for the under-20s was dreadful?

Still trying to relive that Brazil draw glory I think. Maybe we need to dust off Vic Rauter. ;)

Greg said...

Only is soccer is a tie, err, draw, considered glorious.

They also celebrate "gorgeous passes" and "near misses." Al Michaels never gets excited about an incomplete pass.

'Nough said.

Duane Rollins said...

Greg,

You're entitled to your opinion. I'm not sure why you seem to think that it's irrefutable, however.

There's never 'nough said...

Andrew Bucholtz said...

As Mikey points out, I think a lot of the reason for "Soccer Day in Canada" is the tremendous popularity the sport has at the grassroots level. There are a ton of athletes who play soccer growing up, even if it doesn't turn out to be their main sport: it's a relatively short season, the equipment's pretty cheap, and it certainly gets you in shape. When I watched the CBC's Soccer Day last year, a lot of it focused on those grassroots levels, so they're probably hoping to draw that audience in.

That grassroots experience hasn't exactly translated into widespread fandom yet, but as Duane pointed out, soccer's certainly growing in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The other thing to consider is that soccer fandom and Canadian soccer fandom are not the same thing: there are far more people in this country who love the game of soccer and follow leagues around the world than support TFC (or the Whitecaps or Impact), and we won't even speak of the lackadaisical support for the Canadian national sides. It will be interesting to see if any Canadian fans make the trek down to Seattle for the Brazil match tomorrow night.

sager said...

'Nough said is just an expression ... see, I'm on both sides of the fence enough that I can watch a soccer game on Saturday... and still laugh at the jokes about how there's no scoring.

People will tell me I'm stupid for watching a slow game like baseball and I laugh that off too.

Mikey said...

And who thought we would see the day where was a cricket in Canada live chat on the Globe and Mail's site like today?

Baseball and cricket fans are blood The drinking in the sun does not hurt either.

Mikey said...

where *there* was

New reality said...

Well, time to leave my stance on the fence - unlike Sager whose got Borkowsky-itis.
Oh, and for Greg, I live near Deadmonton and grew up around here, it's not that bad for soccer.
However, outside the big three (Van, TO and Mont) soccer is only big until the kids find something else to do when they hit 12-14. After that point, it dies off in a similar way to what baseball has been doing (with the possible exception of the Wet Coast and southern Ont) for the past decade.
That's why it's such a big deal when a Canadian makes it somewhere in either sport (count Bball in there to0 - all I have to do is look at the fawning the Edm media is doing about the IBLs Chill having a pair of Canadians on it).
The only reason CBC is doing this - hype to grab advertising dollars and attempt to resurrect their flailing numbers just like they did when they went out to do Hockey Day in Canada.
In the end, it won't amount to anything, unless you count CBC executives spending the profits from the commercials on lavish vacations and hotels while trying to justify it all as 'meetings'.
There, I said it, soccer and baseball (as much as I care about both - I still officiate them) will grow just like Bball did (NOT) when the NBA came north.
Memorial services for all three sports have been scheduled, and don't worry about getting their early - looks like there will be plenty of seats available.

Robert C. said...

I'm still cranky about them canceling 'This is Wonderland' too. Thanks CBC. :)