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Soccer anyone? It’s snowing out, you know

Dec 30, 2012, 9:05 AM EDT

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Every now and then, this terrible idea of professional soccer in the United States adopting the FIFA soccer calendar sneaks out of the closet.

And we have to round up the darn thing and sweep it back in there. We’ll use the occasion of Sepp Blatter’s silly remarks to fight this fight yet again.

(MORE: Blatter’s silly remarks regarding MLS)

Ironically, about the time Blatter’s comments about MLS aligning itself with the international soccer calendar where going public, there was a college football bowl game going on at Yankee Stadium.

Maybe you saw a play or two. It was snowing and the weather was fairly awful. It makes for pretty TV pictures, but who really wants to be sitting in (or driving in) that stuff?

That happened to be a Saturday night, a.k.a. prime time for MLS kickoffs.

So what do you think the crowd might have looked like at Red Bull Arena during the big winter storm of December 2012? Or down in Boston, perhaps? Not great, I would imagine.

So, yes, the weather is a major impediment. Not the only one, mind you, but an impediment for sure.

The FIFA calendar advocates, as I have said before, have presumably not spent a winter in Chicago, Columbus, New York, Boston, Toronto or a couple of other spots where nasty weather happens fairly regularly.

Yes, yes, I can hear it now: “They play NFL football during the winter in those cities!”

But that is such a silly argument. American football survives in cold-weather markets because they play just 8-10 dates a year. So, first, the number of truly bad weather games is limited.

Second, as they play so infrequently, fans will man-up, layer-up and go take the weather beating. It’s the land’s most popular sport, where fans wait for years on season ticket lists, and where they plan their lives in some cases around two or three dates on the calendar. They put up with it because a game in December or January is important; it’s worth the stretch.

If it’s just a regular season game against Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Chicago, etc., they’ll just take a pass, thank you very much. And we’ll all look at the empty seats, or consider the questions of re-scheduling and say, “Why in the world did they move to the winter schedule?”

In short, what works in the NFL won’t necessarily work in MLS. Perhaps you’ve noticed: the NFL is a radically different beast than MLS.

  1. dfstell - Dec 30, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I really wonder if it might make some kinda sense to just divide the US up into regions and play when the weather makes sense. Summer soccer in Houston doesn’t make much sense either. How would MLS ever expand to Phoenix? So let the southeast have a winter season, let the northeast play in the summer, etc. And then have an American Champion’s League or something like that.

    • joeyt360 - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      The problem is there isn’t a real balance. There are many more cities where February is untenable than there are ones where August is.

      • dfstell - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:39 PM

        I guess my point is that some of our weather problems come from the fact that the US is basically the same size as Europe, yet we’re trying to impose a singular calendar on the entire country. Most of Europe is on the same calendar, but the Scandinavian leagues all take a break for the winter and a few other leagues take off for at least a few weeks in the dead of winter.

        I’d love to see it be regional in the US and let them schedule for when it’s nice outside and screw this idea of making everyone play at the same time. What is soccer gaining from having Houston and New England be on the same calendar? Or Dallas and Chicago?

        It’s a complete pipe dream – of course – because MLS would never do this, but it’s a fun thing to speculate about.

  2. kappy32 - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    8-10 dates per year? You do realize that football starts the first Sunday in September & ends the last week in December. Then there are 5 weeks of playoffs, ending the first Sunday of February. That’s a total of 22 weeks, more than half of which is played in bad weather.

    • tylerbetts - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      8-10 would refer to the number of home games for an NFL team. 8 regular season games, and a maximum of 2 home playoff games.

  3. jerichowhiskey - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    The problem is, people watch EPL and the other fair weather leagues and think we should be the same. Disregarding the fact that last year or so the EPL had a bad snowstorm which canceled a crapload of games.

    There’s plenty of other leagues that follow their own schedule for their own needs.

    • Steve Davis - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:04 PM

      Yes, exactly … but also disregarding the fact that this IS NOT the EPL. It’s not EPL in so very many ways … and this is but another of them.

  4. greej1938l - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    this isnt baseball……playing in the snow really isnt a big deal for futbol

    • Steve Davis - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      I don’t really agree, but that’s not the point. How many people will drive out to pay their money and WATCH in the snow? That’s the main point.

      • akiaki007 - Dec 31, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        I went to Red Bull Arena for the 2nd leg of the playoff game this season. Me and all of perhaps another 1,000 people. It was positively miserable!

        Playing soccer in the winter is a much worse idea than playing in August. Just hope that next year MLS doesn’t schedule 1pm games in July and August again, which is just as bad as trying to play with 4 inches of snow on the ground, while still snowing.

  5. charliej11 - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Every time some blogger…or another idiot like the president of FIFA……suggests we should in the worst viewing months we should post the weather in your area…35 degrees and raining in Seattle, where we would have drawn 43k for the game 6 months from now.

    The hypothetical mid week game, 3 hours after the sunsets, will be almost identical weather this week, with about 10k scheduled to attend. Smart move Sepp.

  6. valiantdraws - Dec 30, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    The fact, soccer’s popularity is rising, but its nowhere near the point of being able to support a winter calendar anyway. I think MLS should simply schedule as few games as possible in the cold cities when its still cold. And why oh WHY can’t Houston only play at night? They have lights, don’t they?

  7. bobinkc - Dec 30, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Any time Blatter opens his mouth about the MLS, it is just blather. The first regular season game that my son and I attended together several years ago was mid-March at Community America Ball Park. Our seats were on the south side of the stadium facing NNW. The temperature was 25F when the game started with a 20-30mph wind blowing sleet into our faces and causing any kick that was more than two feet off the ground to hook or shank horribly. Every kick slid on the ice at least part of the way and the players essentially walked through most of the game to keep from falling. We finally had to go to Arthur Bryant’s for a late supper and sit by one of the fireplaces to warm up before driving home.

    Blatter needs to come and live with me from late November through late March one year and then make stupid comments about the MLS season.

  8. jfr11 - Dec 30, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    8-10 dates a year, I am sure refers to only home dates

  9. bellerophon30 - Dec 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Anyone trying to talk sense into Sepp Blatter…………well I’d like a pony, as long as we’re talking wishful thinking.

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