Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soccer Fans: Show Me Local Interest in Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soccer Fans: Show Me Local Interest in Game

Article excerpt

How many times have you heard it over the years? That soccer is

about to invade the United States and cause a raucous round-ball

revolution? That it's only a matter of time before the soccer

generation in this country grows up, raids corporate America and

finally puts soccer in its rightful place near the top of our

sporting hierarchy?

I've heard the soccer spiel for years and have recently even

espoused the theory myself. But I'm tired of hearing it and

tired of talking about it.

Just shut up and show me.

Over the last several weeks, I've heard from many soccer fans

who have expressed genuine fervor over the genesis of the

A-League Jacksonville Cyclones, who played their first

exhibition game last night at Municipal Stadium against D.C.

United -- the defending champions of Major League Soccer. The

soccer aficionados insist Jacksonville is ripe for a soccer

awakening and have urged me and other Times-Union staffers to

give the new team the coverage it deserves.

Two words:

Show me.

Don't show me by writing or calling or faxing or e-mailing to

tell me what soccer deserves. Every Johnny-come-lately franchise

in every alphabet minor league imaginable feels the newspaper

has slighted them. They claim we cover too much of this and too

much of that and not nearly enough of them. "We deserve more,"

they whine.

Don't tell me what you deserve . . . show me.

And, please, don't recite the same old statistics about soccer

being America's fastest-growing sport. We know, we know.

And don't give me a history lesson about how the old

Jacksonville Tea Men of the North American Soccer League used to

average 10,000 fans per game back in the 1980s. That was then,

this is now.

Show me.

Not with demographic surveys or future projections or corporate

sponsorships or blah, blah, blah. Show me where it counts and

only where it counts:

At the gate, baby.

There were 5,872 fans last night for the Cyclones' 2-0 loss to

D.C. United -- the No. 1 professional team in North America. Not

a bad start considering the wet weather, but not exactly

overwhelming evidence that Jacksonville is ready to embrace pro

soccer and expand into the MLS in three years. …

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