Thursday, April 29, 2010

A leauge full of Davids

Recently I've been to a few MLS games in the past couple of weeks checking out TFC and the various teams that have been coming through town, and I have to say one thing struck me as I chugged $9 beers. The MLS for all its good fiscal planning etc is a fairly boring league.

What seems to be missing is a team to hate, meaning that there is no big bad dominate team that everyone wants to see and beat. The MLS prides itself on being a fair league, every team has a chance to win at the beginning of the year. With the salary cap system it insures no one team becomes to strong and rules the roost over the other. However this lack of a league superpower makes the league actually more predictable and less attractive to fans.

Take for example the New York Yankees, they are by far the most powerful baseball team in baseball and yes you can count on them to win the majority of the games they play. However this does not stop fans from shelling out the money to come see them. In fact the cities the Yankees visit see a spike in their overall attendance as people come to see the stars the Yankees have, and to possibly see their team upset the mighty Yankees. Plus people love to hate the Yankees and will pay to just to boo them at games.

In soccer Manchester United or Real Madrid fit this "Yankee" mold. In fact if you take the English Premier League as an example, you generally know who will finish in the important top 4 spots in the league table. England has the big 4 Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. Most fans know who will win the majority of the games and end up at the top of the table, however this has not diminished attendance. In fact it has risen by as much as 60%. These four teams are the richest clubs in the league by far, however fans still turn out even if they know the odds are not in their favour. These fans go for the same reason the baseball fan goes when the Yankees play their team, the stars and the any given Sunday mentality.

This is what is missing form the MLS, there is no one to root against. No home game TFC has feels like a derby game or has that intensity that other leagues around the world have. At the end of the day the fan leaves feeling like what they just watched didn't really matter. A league full of Davids is simply not that attractive.

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