Americanizing Soccer for the U.S. Sports Fan pt. 2
In order for Soccer to make it to the U.S. sports fan’s main menu, it must play a schedule that has both sense and purpose. An American professional soccer league must begin play every year 1-2 weeks before the Major League baseball season begins and it must end its regular season 3 weeks before the start of the NFL season.
A professional league must make every attempt to take advantage of the U.S. sports calendar so that soccer can get the limelight needed to reach diehard U.S. sports fans. Every ounce of sports spectating in America, including awards shows, is scheduled to a specific time in the year in order to gain a place within the public’s eye.
When there is a hole or dip in the sports schedule, like the MLB all-star game, soccer must fill the spot in a big way. This year and in past years, professional soccer has not scheduled games on baseball’s all-star break. This is an error in judgement from those who are the decision makers for professional soccer. Professional soccer should always try to maximize its exposure in the sports spectator calendar, especially on days when no other major U.S. sports are being played.
There are few holes left in the sports calendar, but tradition doesn’t need holes in schedules. Tradition can bring professional soccer to its rightful place on the U.S. sports calendar. Tradition should be that professional soccer always stays one step ahead of both baseball and footfall. Placing its regular season on the U.S. sports calendar for the months of March, April, May, June, and July, with its playoffs in August, will stabilize and solidify professional soccer’s niche in the sports spectator marketplace.
Professional soccer in the U.S. from March to August should build towards a 40-50 regular game season. The schedule must find consistency from year to year and only allow interference from the most reputable tournaments(i.e. USOC, CCL). Clarity in the schedule and more games means more opportunities for pro soccer to make a lasting impact with U.S. sports fans.
The perfect start to the 2009 season would be the first day of spring, Monday, March 23rd. Monday Night Futbol would be the perfect anecdote to keep the fans engaged and enthused over a 20-week professional soccer schedule.
The schedule should permit for play Thursdays through Mondays. Friday nights will see a heavy schedule. Saturdays will see a heavy schedule for day and night, while Sunday will see a heavy schedule for day and late afternoons. Monday and Thursday nights will see a lighter schedule.
Teams should prepare to travel for 2-3 game sets (against the same team) over a 3 to 5 day period, similar to professional baseball. There should be games to view on television from Thursdays through Mondays all over the country.
Scheduling is the most critical element to ensuring that soccer gains the most exposure possible. Groups of games must start one after another. By staggering the start times, fans watching on television, should be able to see games in a consecutive manner. Start times need to be prepared long in advance.