What's The Score? - Part 1

Let me preface this post by first stating that I don't believe that it is the media's (i.e. television, radio, and newspapers) responsibility to help promote or advance a certain product or sport by providing advertising or discussion for a product that does not necessarily advance their business.  Especially if said product is not a paid advertiser of any of the aforementioned media outlets.  It is also not the media's responsibility to dissuade or attempt to dissuade consumers from patronizing a certain product or sport regardless of its status as an advertiser. 

 

Now, on to my soap box......

 

I'm a huge sports fan.  Along with the Fire I also support the Cubs, the Bears, the Blackhawks, and the Bulls.  Like many children growing up in America and playing/watching sports, baseball was my first love in terms of sports fandom.  Those who would question the sanity of choosing the Cubs as my team are probably justified in their criticism but that's an entirely different topic and not important to this discussion.  There was something almost mythic about baseball.  With all its history, tradition, and passionate following it was easy to understand why little boys grew up wanting to become baseball players.   History and tradition also seem to be contributing factors that aid in the support of the Chicago Bears and to a lesser extent the Blackhawks.  The Bulls history traces back to their first year in 1966 but as far as most fans are concerned the Bulls started playing when Michael Jordan arrived in town. 

 

Traditional local sports media, specifically the local sports radio talkers discuss and dissect every detail and move made by the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks.  More often than not the radio hosts/commentators are fairly knowledgeable and can discuss each organization and related sport intelligently with callers and columnists who cover each team.  Soccer and the Fire is largely ignored on the two major sports radio talkers in Chicago (WSCR 670 and ESPN 1000).  This fact alone does not bother me since I realize that the typical WSCR or ESPN radio host knows little to nothing about the sport or the local team so any discussion initiated by them would result in something akin to listening to me try to answer a question about Middle Eastern politics.  I know there's a problem in the Middle East, but I have no idea how to solve it or where to begin a discussion involving the matter.

 

That leads me to the motivation for this post.  I've been a regular listener of both sports stations for years.  I even find some of the hosts entertaining, knowledgeable and well versed on most topics involving the 4 major sports (or at least the 4 major sports as they would have you believe-football, baseball, basketball, and hockey).  Last Friday while listening to the Boers and Bernstein afternoon show on WSCR I happened to catch an interview being conducted on the air with Chicago Rush head coach Mike Hohensee.  There was nothing particularly enlightening about the interview and it was over fairly quickly.  At the end of the interview, Dan Bernstein closed the discussion by saying, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Arena football is fun to watch.  Everybody should try and get out to see a game.  It's a good family atmosphere and a good time".  I have no problem with any of that since the Chicago Rush likely spent a considerable amount of money to advertise on the Score by sponsoring their regular sports updates throughout the week. 

  

What I do take exception to is something that continues to disgust me about the local sports media in general and that radio program in particular.  Last season during the months of July and August the Fire, as they occasionally do, purchased advertising time on WSCR and sponsored the sports updates during the Boers and Bernstein show along with other shows throughout the day.  On July 27 and again on July 28, I heard Fire advertisements being ridiculed and dismissed as irrelevant WHILE BEING READ on the air.  This of course set me off and motivated me to send the following email to WSCR management.

 

wscr_.pdf

For the record, WSCR never responded to my email or the emails/phone message of other Fire fans that were equally as incensed as I was over the matter.  I'm fairly certain that Fire management contacted them to discuss the issue since the garbage ceased the next day and the afternoon show proceeded to read subsequent Fire advertisements in a monotone and matter of fact manner. 

 

As I stated in my email to WSCR, I don't necessarily have a problem with the Score's lack of soccer coverage or Fire discussion.  I realize that they feel their listeners don't want to hear it.  The biggest problem with that line of thinking is that soccer fans aren't listening to the Score because they know the station won't talk about it and any discussion is usually uninformed negative b.s. about how soccer sucks.  Again, I'd like to share an example.  I'll use the Boers and Bernstein show again since they are probably the most ignorant when it comes to discussing anything about the game factually.

 

During an afternoon show last fall, before the MLS playoffs, Boers and Bernstein happened to stumble onto a conversation about soccer.  I don't quite recall how the conversation came up but it may have been initiated by a random David Beckham sports story during an update.  Bernstein began to wander into the nonsense that most of the soccer-phobic sports media seems to wallow in.  "MLS and soccer is irrelevant" and "nobody really cares about it" since the attendance at most games is horrible.  Boers chipped in by saying "That's why they only build stadiums that only hold 15,000.  They can't fill them".  Bernstein's response entailed something about nobody wanting to go to Bridgeview and asked about the capacity of Toyota Park.  "15,000", Boers replied.  "There you go", was the brilliant conclusion offered by the Score's resident Know It All and Duke graduate. 

 

Not only are the "facts" supporting their opinions incorrect but they also echo the same tired refrain repeated by the likes of other sports media turds like Jim Rome and Norman Chad.  Norman Chad wrote this steaming piece of fecal matter about soccer after the MLS labor negotiations were concluded and a strike was averted.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032102355.html

Chad not only conveniently forgets to mention sell outs all season long in Seattle and Toronto, but he fails to mention solid, passionate, vocal, and increasing fan support in Houston, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and newly added Philadelphia.  He must also not have been aware of the new stadium in New York which holds 25,000 fans or plans for expansion teams in the soccer crazed northwest where Portland and Vancouver will also thrive.  Why bother to check the facts?  If he's going to use attendance in Dallas as a barometer for interest in soccer nationally I might as well point out that the Oakland A's attendance of 10,397 last May for a game against the Los Angeles Angels or the 10,873 people that showed up for an A's game against the Indians in September is surely a sign that nobody cares about baseball.  Unfortunately there is no sense in arguing with stupidity. 

 

If you're going to be ignorant, at least get the facts right. 

 

To be continued............

 

Filed under: Media Coverage

Tags: Fire, media, WSCR

Comments

Leave a comment
  • omg your freakin awesome for this. You tell'em man. Keep the good stuff like this comin.

  • Let me salute you !!!!
    That is one of the greatest articles I ever read pertaining to idiots in the Chicago media like Boers and Bernstein !
    Keep in mind , the Fire had over 20,000 people with no advertisement and no media help. Berstien is a self centered punk who does not realize MLS is out drawing the NBA , the Seatlle Sounders are drawing more than the Sonics ever did , DC United out draws the Wizzards, The Fire consistantly outdraws the Bulls.
    Here is my take , ESPN will always have the European soccer scores on their sports tickers but they never have MLS and I think I know why, ESPN carries MLB ans NBA games and I think guys like David Stern tell ESON that as long as you are carrying NBA games , dont give any attention to any pro soccer leagues in the United States because they fear that people are going to turn their backs on the overpaid NBA players and turn to MLS.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    hey FireStingDoug, before I start rambling my perspective, I would like to say this column/blog is epic; it is a homerun. I don't listen to Terry "By Crackie" Boers and Dan "Show Me Facts" Bernstein show. In the mornings, I listen to Howard Stern and "The Big Dawg" Steve Duemig in the afternoons in Tampa Bay. I listen to Duemig on my computer and the station carries the Rays, Buccaneers and Lightning. The Big Dawg knows alot about soccer and praises the MLS highly. One day, some caller discussed the USA Mens Soccer team, Duemig knew the whole roster and went on to talk about it for 30 minutes.

    He mentioned that the MLS is the up and coming sport in America; give them 5-10 years. In addition, he made a statement saying that America needs to start soccer clinics/academy (like US under 20 and the Fire) coach by a European or a South American to show these kids how soccer is played.

    This is coming from a guy from Tampa Bay that has the decency to talk about soccer and Tampa Bay doesn't have an MLS franchise since the Munity folded 10 years ago due to lack of ownership. Last month, he encourage fans to go see USA play Hondoras at Raymond James Stadium; it is a great atomsphere. This is why I like Duemig's show even though at times he says the most idiotic stuff.

    FIFA World Cup in 2010 is bigger than the Super Bowl because the event occurs every 4 years. The NBA is a water down league with thugs and gang bangers with tatoos that have AND-1 skills. FireSting, the Sounders average home attendance outdrew the Mariners in 2009.

    One more point, someone called Les Gorbstein about soccer and he shun the caller and saying "Hurry up, we got more important things to talk about." Les and the caller eventually talked soccer for 2 minutes then Les went on to talk about the NIT, DePaul basketball and the Final Four for 20 plus minutes.

    Unbelievable....ESPN programming is garbage and the Score is ignorant.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    You guys in Tampa had a fine soccer team in the 1980s called the Rowdies and I am told that the name still is alive , the team drew 30,000 a game for outdoor soccer , their attendance suffered in 1984 only because the word was getting around that the league was in financial trouble , Rowdies always had good indoor teams too.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Even though I was too small to remember the Sting and the Rowdies, I know the NASL very well based on references (documentaries,relatives,friends and newspapers and internet). The Rowdies had guys like Rodney Marsh and the Wegerle brothers while the Sting had Grantiza, Margetic, Glenn, Mathieu and etc. The Mutiny had some good teams as well and thanks to success of players like Valderrama, Lassiter, Ralston, Hedjuk, Kinnear and Ravelli. I understand that the Rowdies have a USL team but it is not the MLS and they play at Steinbrenner Field.

    Now, I follow the Fire big time and I confess that I was one of ignorant people refuse to acknowledge soccer. One day, I went to a Fire game in 2006 and it was an exciting atmosphere. The more I watch the Fire and the MLS, the more I was into the game and understanding the rules.

    While Guillermo was bringing up the A's and Angels attendance, yesterday the Rays and Orioles game at Camden Yards drew 9,000 people (all-time low in Camden Yards history). Since Norman Chad writes from the Washington Post, he should mention that in his column instead of the nonsense he wrote about the MLS.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Guillermo,
    Do you know if Fire trying to bring anyone in before the transfer window closes?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Seems doubtful since the window closes on April 15. I don't think we'll see any substantial additions until the July window opens.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    This is a beastly post. I'm totally with you guys on contacting them. That's terrible that they would do that while reading the advertisement. And that column? Well let me put it this way-I used to think of the Washington Post as a first class newspaper. Then I read the entire column that was written in a sarcastically annoying way. For the radio station numbers and email, check the Sunday Musings post from a week ago in the comment section.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    Patrick,
    The Washington Post carries articles written by Norman Chad, he doesn't necessarily write for the Post only. The Sun Times locally also occasionally publishes his garbage as do other newspapers nationally.

  • In reply to cesba:

    You will see Chad's garbage in the Milwaukee Journal too.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I have mentioned before , Jill Carlson may be the best anchor in Chicago when it comes to covering the Fire and the Storm , but she is only one person who may not call all the shots because she is the weeknd anchor. Trust me , Jill is a friend to us soccer fans, I talk to her quite often and she lovbes the games.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Sorry, but Amy Freeze takes the cake. Anyone who would be at the 2009 33 degree home opener to cheerfully tell the diehard fire fans the forecast is first in my book.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    Amy Freeze did a fine job on the Fire broadcasts , but it is Jill who has to make the call to get the Fire on the sports highlights on the weekends.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Update 4/15/10: Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays home attendance at Rogers Centre: 10,744. Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC game home attendance at BMO Field on ESPN 2: 21,978. Why does that chump Norman Chad put that in his article. In his world, the MLS is irrevelant and nobody follows it. Norman Chad is the same guy that thinks The World Series of Poker is an up and coming event on ESPN.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Score's reporter David Schuster mentioned that it has been a terrible weekend for Chicago teams not winning any games minus the Fire winning Saturday. Matt Abbatacola told Schuster that I will just take the exception of the Cubs winning on Friday.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    Kow Tow.

    I comepletely agree here, and have nothing else to say. I can't wait for you to continue this post.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I'm down with everyone if we wanna fire away the emails. We can be like our own little e-hitman squad where if we see some soccer bashing we'll send in the cavalry to attack...through email complaints of course.

  • In reply to Warren:

    We can all call ourselves the Fire starters once we start the E mails to WSCR

  • In reply to Warren:

    Very well written and insightful. Thanks

  • In reply to Warren:

    Back in my younger days, I used to get upset when some cretin in the mainstream media would put out the same old, trite anti-soccer column on a slow sports day. After a while, I got tired of banging my head against the wall. I wrote letters to complain, but it didn

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    StaryByk.....how did you get a peek at my part 2? ;)

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I'm with you all the way man but the Fire don't outdraw the Bulls. Bulls have, surprisingly, the highest attendance in the league:
    http://espn.go.com/nba/attendance

  • In reply to Chow:

    It also helps that they have the largest arena

  • In reply to Chow:

    Chow,
    I know the Bulls attendance is higher. My point was that the average attendance for those teams when I wrote the email was comparable to the Fire's average in 2008 of 17K.

    In 2010 the Blackhawks draw 20K plus and the Bulls surprisingly continue to draw although that is not the case for other teams throughout the NBA and NHL.

  • In reply to Chow:

    Good column, Guillermo. For what it's worth, Fred Hubener is now on the weekends at ESPN1000 and he indicated that they own the radio rights to the World Cup.

    I think Stary is right--there are tons of soccer fans, but their allegiances are spread out.

    One of the reasons for this is how easy it is to follow the Premiership, La Liga, Serie A, Champions League, the Mexican League, etc... Just 5 years ago you could never find any of this stuff on TV--now you can watch high-quality football every day of the week.

    Unfortunately, for the Fire, the football is simply inferior. I will watch their games and follow this blog, but on my limited Saturday sports-watching schedule, if push-comes-to shove I would much rather carve time out to watch an EPL game than a Fire game.

    As Guillermo said, many of us are fans of multiple sports. The Fire and the European leagues never overlap, but I personally find MLS games less compelling than, say, a White Sox game.

    But when there is a Champions League/EPL on versus a Sox game, 9 times out of 10 I will watch football.

    That said, the Fire in particular could do a lot more in the promotions department to get their product more exposure. I'd like to see what John McDonough could do with the Fire!

    On the "radio" front, does anyone know of a Fire/MLS podcast?!?!?

    I download the UK Guaridan's Football Weekly every week: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/series/footballweekly

    They offer no MLS coverage--in fact, their attitude towards the MLS is similar to Boers and Bernstein's--but for European football its the best.

    I haven't found a comprable MLS podcast.

    So, Guillermo, how about doing a podcast?!?!?!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Majorleaguesoccertalk.com has a continuous roster of podcasts. Pretty good site overall but the conversation there is not even close to the high level on this site !!

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Thanks for the tip, mate. I hadn't seen that site. I do have to agree with the lead post over there on the lameness of the new MLS website.

    Why would the league "beta" the new website at the beginning of the season??!! This should have been done during the winter to get the kinks out.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Just another thought -- Fox Soccer Channel has a 2 hour call-in show every Monday night with Eric Wynalda and some Brit. It's actually pretty entertaining although a lot of the discussion is on the EPL. HOWEVER, the last 20 to 30 minutes is devoted to MLS. This would be a perfect venue to raise the visibility of MLS by flooding them with calls and emails on MLS issues. Also, the callers identify their favorite teams--it would be nice to see a lot more MLS teams listed, especially the Fire. BTW, Wynalda was wearing a Fire jersey Monday night.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Fox Football Fone In has been on for a few years now. The Brit is Nick Webster. They have done a better job of talking MLS now that Steven Cohen is no longer on the show.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    I applaud you on writing WSCR. Of course the larger issue is the unprofessional treatment of a SPONSOR on air - what a complete bonehead thing to do.

    But the letter also go towards combatting the disrespect shown soccer. I wrote a letter to the Washington Post concerning the article you poster when it first was published.

    The more who protest the treatment of soccer the more editors and management will realize people actually watch and like soccer.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Great post.

    I'm 1 for 1 on email complaints and response.

    I contacted Fox news and let them know that I didn't appreciate the lack of coverage on the build-up week to the season opener. I sh!t you not, the next morning Jill Carlson was out at the Fire's practice recording a piece that will be aired in the next week or so. When I got home from practice that same day I got an email response from their sports desk's exec producer letting me know that Collins John was going to be on the Final Word. Not only that, but they were/are keenly interested in doing a longer (possibly a feature piece) on the Fire as well as the fans that surround the Fire--Section 8 Chicago, in particular.

    Last week, at the town hall meeting, someone asked Andrew (Hauptman) about the media coverage and what kind of a push the Fire was going to make to see improvement in local coverage. I bit my lip and did't mention the above, but it did occur to me that so many of those clamouring about how the Fire could be doing a better job could also write in/phone in/email in/fax in/pigeon courrier in their complaints and desires to see improved coverage. If you let these outlets know that you are there and listening--in an intelligent way, you will at least let them know that you are not passive and that the demographic is present and willing to hear/see them improve the coverage.

    It would never suprise me to learn that other sports were working to keep coverage of the world's sport at a minimum here in the states (well, at least domestic league) so as to keep their market share and business going unfettered in not only a down market, but a competitive field. And they almost have a built in excuse as, historically, the US is not the strongest example of the sport--neither internationally nor domestically. This is also exampled by the fact that the infrustructure is not present at the level it exists in many of the historically "great" soccer nations; or at the level of the other 'big 4' sports in this country. So it is an easily made argument that the domestic product is simply inferior (even by those in the soccer community in America [a la Eurosnobbery]). But I find that argument a bit xenophobic--possible, but not likely.

    Everything we have wanted, we have had to make ourselves and earn ourselves. I find that to be a much more refreshing vantage than being a media darling. To a certain degree I do worry that our general attitude towards those outside will always be skeptical, at best, ad downright insular and unapproachable at worst. When the outsiders come around, do we welcome them and their interest in our sport and our culture, or do we shun them and continue to chant "no one likes us, we don't care"?

    It is, however, how we recieve them, that will determine not only the quantity and quality of coverage, but the overall tone and respect we will get. The domestic development of the sport and talent may still be very young, but the love and appreciation of the sport by those who do love it is nothing new. So techincally can we consider ourselves among the top leagues? No. But we have come a long way in a short amount of time thanks to the sacrifices of those who have supported the sport in this country.

    end ramble.

  • In reply to giaco:

    Nice.
    Fox actually does a fairly decent job of covering the Fire in comparison to the other outlets.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Thank you so much for sending in that letter! It was awesome and brought up so many good points. Soccer is and always will be the most watched sport in the World, and eventually the US sports media will have no choice but to talk about it and in a positive way. There no doubt a scare by the NHL, MLB, and NBA that the MLS is growing by leaps and bounds and that the players are not spoiled grossly overpaid cry babies! They are very appreciatative of their fans and the MLS players will go out of there way to talk to fans, not just because they feel they have to.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    The issue of the relationship between good media coverage and MLS success is complex, resembling the chicken or egg puzzle. However, nothing happens in this country without advocates and soccer needs them especially when the sports media steps out of line. Just remember that when the number of soccer "crazies" reaches a "tipping point" the "crazies" suddenly become major audience. 10 crazies is an annoyance, 1000 crazies require a response. How about posting the email addresses of the latest offenders on this site!!!!!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Roti,
    Valid points all the way around. These are issues I'll discuss in part 2.

    I do know Fred Huebner has attempted to pitch a soccer show to his former radio employer while he worked there but nothing came of it.

    The podcast idea is something I'm working on...stay tuned.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Then you have me, I could give a rats ass about the EPL, La Liga or Serie A. Sometimes a game is so intriguing I watch but otherwise my interest is with MLS & the Fire.

  • In reply to milicz:

    I follow EPL, La Liga and to a lesser extent Serie A. I think Serie A is fairly uninteresting outside of the top 4. The Fire and MLS are my main interest. Always will be.

  • In reply to Chow:

    The Fire is right on par with the Bulls for attendance . I have been a Bulls fan all my life , I go back to the day of Sam Worthem , Cobie Ditrich, and Mark Olberding , but if the Bulls do not start getting serious about being nothing more than and 8th seed every year , that attendance is going to go down.

  • Now that Gullerimo has started a long over due ball rolling , all of us soccer fans need to start flooding WSCR with E mails and phone calls. I stopped listening to WSCR long time ago , I listen to John Jurkovic and Carmen Defalco on WVMP , they support soccer .
    Chuck Swirsky who is the BUlls play by play man now was a Chicago Sting radio play by play guy from 1980 through 1982 and he still speakes highly of soccer. Let's declare an E mail and phone call war on Booers and Berstein !!!

Leave a comment