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.
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.