Soccer and the Nation’s Capital
I travel to Washington several times a year on business. Since I work in political and governmental circles their is really no way to avoid coming to the nation’s capitol. This week I am in Washington again and for the first time I decided to pay attention to what sports team shirts I see locals wearing. (Because I don’t typically get time to walk the Mall or hit the typical tourist spots, the people I see on the Metro, walking K street or at Dupont Circle are almost always locals. )
In my informal highly unscientific look around town the past two days, soccer has far more devotees locally than any other sport. And what’s even better news is that you don’t see all of the European and Latin American jersey or shirts on people as you do in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Miami. Between 5:30 last night and 7:00 pm I saw a total of 19 people wearing DC United shirts in addition to one person sporting a DC United scarf. By comparison I saw 7 Redskins shirts, four Nationals shirts or jackets and zero Wizards or Capitals merchandise. I also saw four people either with a US Soccer jersey or a jacket. While it was a gameday, I was nowhere near RFK Stadium and was in fact on the Red Line of the Metro not on the Orange or Blue line that goes to RFK.
I know this is likely an aberration of some sorts but it once again goes to my point about DC United and Washington in general. While some posters on this site show a childish envy of DC United, they are the only soccer club playing in MLS that has made major inroads in the local sporting culture. DC United gets daily coverage in the local print and TV media, has fans who are proud to wear the jersey and has marketed itself brilliantly. When DC United succeeds, US Soccer and MLS succeeds in penetrating the conscience of the sports media which is dominated by the Northeast, for better or for worse.