Saturday, July 12, 2014

Something new? TheKickAround?

So a new Twitter handle showed up and it is quite intriguing. @TheKickAround. It centers around THIS article from D Magazine, and if it is nothing other than a rallying cry for "There Should Be More Soccer Talk on Local Sports Radio", it is worth supporting - at least to me.

So all you folk on Twitter, give it a follow and let's see what happens. I don't know any details, so I am a drunk monkey on the Titanic with a Ouigi board and tea leaves like you, but I can hazard a guess that it has the potential to lead to bigger and better things.

The really exciting thing that I have noticed is a significant uptick in interest in soccer from outside the normal soccer circles. The reality is this - there is a series of concentric circles that starts really really small, gets a little bigger, then a little bigger as you work through those deep into soccer (US Open Cup), those into MLS, then those into the US National Team all the time and select European leagues, then those really into UEFA and top end US games, then a WIDE gap to the usual pool of people who get into USA-Mexico in World Cup Qualifying, then another WIDE gap before you get to the usual suspects that get into the US in the World Cup proper every four years.

From what I can tell, we have Johnny Footballed WAY outside those circles to where it is bigger than just the sports world, and pretty much everyone between the US Open Cup folk and Good Morning America are now aware of, and at least at a surface level, into soccer. Yes, I am an Aggie, but I make that reference not to throw the last two years into anyone's face, but to give the example of someone transcending his team, his conference, to reach beyond his sport and into sports in general and beyond. For those not paying attention, soccer has done the same thing.

It led to a great article from Bob Sturm, one that I am very excited about mostly because he isn't going to write about it without a sense that he has a good reason to. His audience is not exactly small, by the way, in case you don't know him or The Ticket. In the article, he basically lays out in good detail how to get into soccer if you are new to the sport. Again, back to the guys on the radio admitting that the rush of a World Cup goal is something flat out amazing, and then admitting they want to see if there really is something to this soccer thing. The level of penetration is quite significant.

The trick is, now that we have everyone's attention, how to keep it. Part of that is continuing to do what we do - consume soccer. But also encourage anything in the media, and back to @TheKickAround, follow them and see where it goes.

One quick note to all you soccer die hards who want to get your new soccer-aware people into the sport - personally, I think the best way to do it isn't to point them to FC Dallas or the EPL, but rather tell them to buy FIFA14 and play it. Odds are they already have EA games and this one will make an impact (relative to other EA games, it is pretty high quality) and so the transition will be easy. But additionally, they will then learn the teams and then choose to follow one because if they are sports aware, and they now know the teams via FIFA14, it will be a simple natural progression.

That isn't to say if you have a chance to take them to an FC Dallas game you shouldn't do it - by all means. Especially now that FC Dallas is averaging 15,000 to 20,000 per game and are back to playing well. I'm just saying that with FIFA14, they can play it on their own and as much as they like, and you don't have to hold their hand.

It is a lot of fun, seeing all these new people starting to understand the rush of a goal in soccer. Now if they can learn the nuances, then they will be hooked like you and I are - where we know why a play at the midfield stripe means "get on your feet because something special is about to happen." It is no different than knowing the difference between a slider and a curve in baseball - without it, it is likely a boring game of catch. But know what kind of hitter is at the plate, against the stuff a pitcher has, and now it is a GAME that can be all consuming.

The simple fact is this - they have had that first hit, the first rush of adrenaline. And they are all adrenaline junkies like all sports nuts. So just feed it in small doses here and there. They are already hooked, now we just slowly raise the dose to where a simple goal won't move the needle, they want beauty, and they want to know what produces beauty. They are all the guys who want to say, "watch this" and then see Elvis steal a base or Dirk hit a fade-away or Seguin score a goal. Just give them little tastes until they can't get enough, and soon they will be saying," watch this" when Michel is over the ball.

And our job will be done.

So get to it, people. Spread the Disease. It is a good Disease, one that soothes your soul. No no no, don't tell them it will break their hearts - they have to figure that one out on their own. And they will. Just keep feeding them the rush of a goal, a bit of information that causes them to want to know more, and they will do the rest.

I can't help smile just thinking about it.

Go forth and make it so!

1 comment:

David Chaffin said...

The implausible dream is coming true. Soccer is finally transitioning from radio whipping boy pariah to the mainstream conversation sport we always knew it should be. The reality of soccer being the 5th major pro sport worth talking about is happening, and those in the media who refuse to see that will be left behind. Thankfully, the sports radio leader in this market (by a mile!), The Ticket, is finally starting to come around.