This evening will witness a rare event in the life of your average American soccer fan. Every one of them will be tuned into ESPNs Sportscenter for the first time in…well, for me it’s been a few years. Bruce Arena’s roster for the World Cup will be announced at 6 PM Eastern.
For years now, ESPN has all but ignored the sport of soccer. There are various theory’s floated around soccer discussion boards but I stick with the belief that the people calling the shots just don’t believe there’s enough demand to warrant more coverage than the occasional snide remark.
However, is it just me or has ESPN been pimping the heck out of the World Cup? Those World Cup ads are all over the place on their channels. Lalas and Wynalda mentioned doing some sort of studio thing during their ‘kiss-and-makeup’ session at half time during the LA-RSL match last weekend. Sounds to me like ESPN has come to believe that at least in terms of the World Cup enough people will be interested in what’s going on…sorta like the Olympics I’m thinking.
Of course, they (ESPN/ABC) have plonked down a sizable amount of money for the rights to show the games. They have to promote the product in order to make sure the sponsors they’ve lined up to advertise are happy. Champions League highlights have made their Top 10 lists and other mentions have made it on the air. Perhaps things are turning…or are they just humoring the hardcore fans in this country until the end of July when things will get back to normal?
What’s next? Will Jim Rome be doing a “soccer doesn’t suck all the time” segment on his show? ESPNs recent interest in the sport is a sell out, but I’ll take it. Baby steps.
Oh and as for Arena’s selection, I think we can all pretty much name his first 11…it’s the final 3 or 4 that are up for grabs. However, those spots probably won’t make it on to the pitch at any time so does it really matter? I’ll be watching anyway.