Sun Times Gets Dumb......and Dumber

For those of you who aren't interested in my rants regarding media coverage, please look away. 

I've said before that I don't believe it's the media's job to help promote or push a certain product.  Following that belief, I also don't agree with media attempting to dissuade or downgrade products based on personal bias or other underlying factors.  Newspaper columnists seem to slide into a grey area in some cases since they are employed to basically provide insight and viewpoints in addition to the actual "reporting" found within the pages of a given publication.  Certain columnists write inflammatory articles for the sole purpose of eliciting a response from readership while some provide legitimate analysis and criticism based on fact and circumstance surrounding whatever story is being written about.  Sun Time's columnist Rick Morrissey has written two columns that fall into the former category. 

One on June 22 and the other three weeks later on July 14

Normally, I would point out these columns with a link in the comments section or a link through a Media Watch piece.  I've decided to point Morrissey's work out since it contains some of the dumbest anti-soccer arguments committed to print.  That in and of itself is quite a feat considering the amount of "I hate soccer" trash that is published in American newspapers.  Of course, Morrissey rolls out the same old nonsense about not enough scoring, feigned injuries, ties, etc., while pointing out what he likes about the "real" sports.  He also has a new spin.  Morrissey claims that there is some sort of imaginary soccer mafia which exists to apparently try to make him like soccer. 

Morrissey is apparently so consumed with soccer thoughts that he took the time to write the piece on July 14.  Only three weeks after writing an almost identically profound piece on June 22.  I'm still at a failure to fully comprehend why writers like Rick Morrissey feel that they have to stand up and announce to world, "Hey everyone, I don't like soccer".  Doing it once can be brushed off as your typical anti-soccer hack rant based on personal opinion.  Doing it twice in the span of three weeks either belies some sort of agenda or at best supplies a sample of plainly ignorant and lazy writing. 

Since this post is being sent to Sun Times Editor in Chief Donald Hayner (dhyaner@suntimes.com), I've decided to look at Morrissey's latest piece and provide a response for each senseless ramble. 

Morrissey:

Watching soccer is like watching a teenage boy try to work up the nerve to ask out a girl.

Out of 48 World Cup group matches, 13 ended in a 1-0 score, six ended 1-1 and six ended in a thoroughly frustrating scoreless tie. If you had an appetite for goals, here was the equivalent of getting your stomach stapled.

The final Sunday ended with Spain scoring in the 116th minute to beat the Netherlands, yes, 1-0.

You like soccer. I'm happy for you. I like parts of soccer. I like the passing, the athleticism and the spirit in the stands. Like most Americans, I'd like to see a lot more goals.

Response:

Everyone loves goals.  What Morrissey fails to comprehend is that soccer is not hockey, basketball, or football.  It's a different game altogether.  It doesn't need to provide a 6-5 final score to be entertaining or exciting.  Morrissey clearly does not understand the game.  Which is fine, since the game is doing alright with the score lines as they are....even in America. 

There are certainly dull 0-0 draws in soccer.  In the same fashion that there are dull 13-10 or 17-14 football games or incredibly mind numbing 4-1 baseball games.  It's a different game.  Get over it. 

If he'd like to see more goals maybe soccer players can begin experimenting with techniques to make them faster, stronger, and able to kick the ball farther.  Maybe they can artificially improve themselves in order to satisfy the great hunger for more scoring. 

Maybe that will work like it worked so wonderfully for Major League Baseball in the 90's and 00's.  Maybe then, you can avoid the stomach stapling Morrissey writes about. 

Morrissey:

The part I least like about soccer, besides the players' phony injuries and pained facial expressions, is the needy, proselytizing fans in the United States. Why is affirmation so important to them? Why are they eyeing our children, and what is that baptismal font doing there?

It's great that you love singing in a karaoke bar, but where does it say we have to listen?

It makes sense that Nike, Adidas and ESPN want to push soccer in the United States. More interest leads to more people watching matches on TV, which leads to more merchandise sales.

But fans here are not content with simply enjoying their game. They want you to enjoy their game. Knowing you aren't a true believer only steels their resolve to turn you into one. It's a major bummer at parties.

Response:

Those must be some parties he's attending where soccer fans are begging for his almighty affirmation. 

The needy, proselytizing fans Morrissey is referring to are surely the ones that have emailed the Sun Times, commented on their web site, or emailed the writer himself regarding his first column on June 22.  I'd challenge him to produce one letter or email from a fan seeking his approval instead of challenging the opinions expressed in his columns.  Morrissey is incorrectly assuming that anyone who dares to challenge his writing must be begging him to watch soccer.   

The fact is most soccer fans don't care if Morrissey likes the sport.  They don't even really care if the Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Post, or any other outlet acknowledge or cover the sport.  They're content for the most part enjoying the game in their own world away from the soccer-bashing crowd.  Fans who are asking for soccer coverage from the mass media are not asking for people like Rick Morrissey to write about the sport.  They're asking for soccer educated, coherent reporters to cover the sport.  This apparently bothers Morrissey. 

No one is asking Morrissey to listen to singing in a karaoke bar.  They're asking him to leave the bar if he doesn't like it.

Morrissey's concern that the imaginary soccer mafia is "eyeing our children" really exposes his true motives for writing the columns on June 22 and July 14.  He sees the momentum of the sport building and is apparently frightened that it may some day become as popular as the sports that he actually understands and follows.  Is he as concerned with children playing little league baseball?

Morrissey also is apparently blind to the flop artists in the NBA who prolong games and draw fouls by feigning body contact by throwing themselves backwards onto the floor like they were just steamrolled by an NFL linebacker.  Maybe he hasn't seen NFL wide receivers fake contact and turn around looking for a flag after a cornerback so much as breathes on them.

Nobody wants Rick Morrissey to enjoy the game if he doesn't want to watch it.  In fact, I'm sure most soccer fans would prefer he not watch it and not write about it.

Morrissey:

We're goal-oriented in the United States, and if the goal in soccer is goals, well, the sport has a strange way of showing it. The guess here is that, because of the lack of offense, the World Cup didn't fire up the imaginations of Americans and that soccer won't be taking over this country any time soon. We still can refer to American football as football and not feel uncouth.

ESPN said the Spain-Netherlands final attracted 15.5 million viewers, a record for a men's soccer match in the United States. I believe that says more about the power of ESPN than the popularity of soccer.

I'll be expecting someone in a Manchester United jersey, brochure in his hand, zeal in his eye, on my porch this morning.

Whenever an American says he doesn't see the attraction of soccer, fans paint him as an isolationist. I've been all over the world. I love other cultures. I barely can see three feet in front of me because I'm so busy visualizing world peace.

But soccer doesn't get my blood going.

Response:

Let me get this straight.  Morrissey's theory for discounting the growing popularity of soccer in America despite being presented with evidence that depicts the truth is this......the World Cup final drew a rating which beat the World Series and NHL finals, while drawing comparable numbers to game 7 of the NBA finals because people like ESPN and not necessarily soccer? 

This is the comment that I referred to earlier as one of the dumbest anti-soccer arguments ever presented in writing.  By that convoluted logic, I can only assume that the WNBA, the X-Games, and the Espy's all draw huge numbers simply as a result of the staggering subliminal power that ESPN wields over the weak minded and gullible American public.  As a matter of fact, I'm expecting that ratings numbers for the Espy's will eclipse those of the Academy Awards just because they're on ESPN.  Heck, I'll even attend one of the many X-Games watch parties throughout the country just because ESPN is televising it. Morrissey's explanation for the ratings success is so blatantly paranoid that it smacks of panic and denial.

It appears that the first part of this portion of Morrissey's piece was written in anticipation of the ratings dropping after the United States was eliminated from the competition.  I'm sure it was going to be used as a basis for the writer to declare that nobody cares about the World Cup by pointing to a faulty premise that never occurred. Oops.  Time to re-write the piece and turn it into another "I don't like soccer" diatribe.

No one is painting Morrissey or any other anti-soccer scribe as an isolationist.  I'm simply asking him to ignore it like most readers ignore his usual work. 

Morrissey:

Many of us would like soccer a lot better if there was more scoring, but we're fine with the idea that the game isn't going to alter its rules to lure us into the tent. Demanding change would be the ultimate in American arrogance, worse even than exporting ''Mr. Belvedere'' reruns to Europe.

In the end, we're just not that interested in a sport that delivers as often as the postal carrier. We like what we like.

Why isn't that good enough?

Response:

Yes it's good enough.  We get it.  Rick Morrissey doesn't like soccer. 

Yet it's not good enough for Morrissey to write one piece about it.  He felt compelled to write another one three weeks later while providing no new perspective or argument.  For some reason the editors at the Sun Times felt compelled to publish it instead of holding their professional writing staff to some standard of journalism that doesn't alienate a large potential readership by continuing to dole out the same tired drivel that was presented previously. 

Again, Morrissey offers some insight into his true motives for writing this article by suggesting a rule change to promote more scoring is somehow decried by soccer fans as "American arrogance".  Is he suggesting that all soccer fans are non-Americans or foreigners?  Why does he write, "We like what we like" as if he's speaking for all of America? 

 Morrissey:

No one should have to apologize for anything -- not the soccer fans who want the sport to succeed here and not the people who just don't see the allure. If you see beauty in a 1-0 match, wonderful, have at it. Just suppress the urge to convert everyone else. Soccer might be your one, true god, but it's not ours. Leave us to our primitive beliefs. We can't explain why we like a beautiful pass in basketball or a hard check in hockey. We just do.

We can debate soccer against baseball forever, but in the end, it's a personal preference. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of ''the beautiful game.''

Response:

This would be great if Morrissey actually listened to his own advice and suppressed the urge to stand up and begin writing garbage for all to see.  And again, who exactly is "us"?   Is he speaking for America?  Does he realize that many soccer fans are also fans of basketball or hockey?  Oh wait.....maybe non-Americans in Morrissey's eyes can't possibly like basketball or hockey while liking soccer simultaneously. 

If Morrissey is so pro-personal preference, why even bother to write an article chock full of incorrect assumptions, mass generalization, and the need to explain to everyone why he doesn't like soccer....not once but twice in the span of three weeks.  Did he have nothing to say about the Bulls scintillating pursuit of Kyle Korver or JJ Redick on those days? 

Morrissey:

Soccer fans here so wanted the United States to do well in the World Cup. ESPN's American announcers so wanted the United States to do well. And the mythmakers tried to say the team did do well, but the results said otherwise.

The Americans tied England 1-1 because the British goaltender fumbled the ball and let in a Charmin-soft goal. The 14th-ranked United States then tied 25th-ranked Slovenia, a country with the population of New Mexico. After beating Algeria to advance out of group play, it lost to 32nd-ranked Ghana in the round of 16.

The mythmakers also tried to render the Spain-Netherlands game good theater. By definition (mine), a 0-0 tie after almost two hours of soccer cannot be considered scintillating.

In that final, the Dutch had 13 shots on net, meaning they averaged one shot on goal every nine minutes. The Spaniards averaged a shot every 6½ minutes. That's asking a whole lot of us easily distracted Americans.

Response:

Yet millions of easily distracted Americans tuned in to watch the 0-0 scoreless two hours.  Morrissey must have been glued to the television during the scintillating game 7 of the NBA finals.  The score was tied 64-64 with five minutes left.  Not in the third quarter mind you....this was in the fourth quarter of the NBA finals.  This must have been good theatre in Morrissey's eyes since there were a lot of crooked numbers on the board.  Never mind the bad basketball.

Morrissey:

If soccer ever does take off here, it's going to take off on the strength of the game, not on the fervor of its fan base.

Soccer is a great participatory sport for kids. It's a great way to stay in shape. It's not so great to watch. Unless there's something we've yet to see, that's not going to change for many of us.

Is that OK?

It's going to have to be.

Response:

Yes it's ok.....for just about everyone but Morrissey apparently.  

What Morrissey is missing is the fact that soccer is already popular in America and it's growing.  The evidence lies in the amount of Americans playing the game (adult and children -despite Morrissey's protests) and more recently watching it on television.  The domestic league (MLS), however is not as popular as the other professional leagues in the United States which have decades of history, fandom, and following fueling their success.  The increased improvement of the game on American soil will fuel the fervor of the fan base.  These two things go hand in hand. 

It's comical that shortly after stating his desire to encourage personal preference; Morrissey reverts to mass generalization again while informing readers that soccer is not fun to watch and that's not going to change for many of "us". 

I would hope that the idiotic proselytizing displayed in the columns published on June 22 and July 14 are the last we see of Rick Morrissey's attempts to write about soccer.  After all he told us so.  He doesn't like or care about it so why would he continue to write about it.  Maybe if he would stop writing about how much he dislikes it he would not have to worry about that imaginary fan in the Manchester United jersey waiting on his porch to presumably shove soccer down his gullet. 

Nonsense of this sort does not increase the amount of readers or customers who purchase the Sun Times by attempting to enrage soccer fans.  The effect is quite the contrary.  I for one am less inclined to even pick it up as a result. 

 

Comments

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  • GR,

    You're doing a nice job providing information about the Fire that we don't get from the mainstream media. I believe that you are better off putting effort into that, rather than responding to dinosaurs like Morrissey. 20 million people watched the WC final on ABC and Univision. Those are tremendous numbers when compared to numbers of viewers in Europe, especially when you consider the general apathy toward soccer in the US.

    The US is a massive, untapped market for soccer. 20 million viewers represent a small fraction of the total TV audience and ESPN thinks that their presentation of the World Cup was a huge success. There is really nowhere to go but up, despite the tired rants of the soccer haters.

    I read both of Morrissey's columns. It is appallingly lazy for him to basically recycle the first column in order to produce the second. Just like the old Internet advice of "ignore the troll", the same advice applies for the soccer haters in the media. When he reads your response, he will be laughing, because he got you worked up enough to produce such a detailed response.

    This kind of crap used to get me upset, but my life is too short for such stupidity. And with three full-time soccer channels and all of the soccer now on ESPN, I don't have enough hours in the day to waste my time with numbskulls like Morrissey.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    Stary,
    The effort it took for me to write the pieces and the accompanying letter to the editor doesn't detract from my Fire and soccer stuff.

    I think it's important to let the people who are in charge of mass media outlets like the Sun Times know that columns like Morrissey's are exactly what you describe...dinosaur dung.

  • In reply to cesba:

    In the newspaper business these days, it's all about page views. They got you and me and other soccer fans to read. And now I feel dumber for having done so.

    "There is only one thing worse in the world than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    They're also still about circulation as well. They should know that the major part of their market is dying.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Mike Royko remarked that no self regarding fish would allow itself to be wrapped in the Sun Times and this truism has not changed. Morrissey has never written a sentence worth repeating and is very lucky to be employed in a profession he has little aptitude for. He doesn't have the brains god gave chocolate mice and is clearly threatened by what he doesn't understand. Still, it's worth letting the paper know that there is an audience for thoughtful soccer coverage, rather than lazy, vacuous, repeat columns on personal peccadilloes and phobias.

  • In reply to Celt:

    Yes.

  • In reply to Celt:

    Morrisey is a terrible sports writer and has been for years.

    Is that ok?

    It's going to have to be.

  • In reply to Celt:

    I love it...Keep bringing it!!! LOL!!! Dick Young's disciples are growing larger than ever.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Makes me long for the days of Tim Weigel, at least he tried! I don't know what is worse, crap articles like Morrisey's or the 2 inches of column space the Trib gives the Fire...

  • In reply to DerSting:

    2 inches of the fine print at the back! Also, they like to throw in the "British Premier League" standings every spring. I finally canceled my Chicago newspapers two years ago.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Thanks for readings that so we didn't have to! Keep up the good work.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    The Tribune is crap.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    The Wall Street Journal has better soccer coverage than them! Seriously!

  • In reply to cesba:

    Is it dhayner or dhyaner as his email address?

  • In reply to longoria3:

    that's his email address

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I think you justify Morrissey's point here. Soccer fans always feel like they have to defend the game. I love golf...I love watching it. I never defend it when people tell me it's the most boring sport on earth. I don't care what they think.

  • In reply to cjk1214:

    but as a sports fan, you do need media supporting your sport for the sport to grow.

    10 years ago, ESPN world cup coverage probably woulda just been the 4 US games and the world cup final, and that woulda been it. this year they showed every game, and the fans watched it in record numbers.

    the demand for media coverage is there, but the supply is lost in bias of sportswriters and editors. they don't have to be convinced to love the sport, but they do have to be convinced to cover it, to pay attention to it, and to understand that the market for it is still in its early stages, it will continue to grow and the demand for it will only increase

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Well said.

  • In reply to cjk1214:

    the thing is, i never see articles written about how awful of a "sport" golf is to watch (or any other sport for that matter). it's always about soccer. i could make arguments against watching any sport, they all have flaws. but the negative articles and attention seem to me to always be directed towards soccer, and i don't get that.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Very true. I love playing golf but I'm still waiting for the first article discussing the excruciating boredom of watching it on tv.

    I'm a baseball fan too, but I can also understand people who say it's too boring for them.

    How come you never see soccer writers spend the time to write a junk piece about the boredom of baseball? ;)

  • In reply to cjk1214:

    I don't think so. The articles were so blatantly ignorant that I felt they had to be pointed out as a way to illustrate the type of nonsense that passes as journalism in the local media.

    My reply wasn't an attempt to defend or justify why people like soccer it was meant to show just how hollow his points were.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    GR - great article! However, I can also see the merit in ignoring these morons. Here in St. Louis where the known world, as reported by the Post Dispatch, is assumed to be bounded by the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, we have our own moron, Joe Hollerman, who writes articles under the name "Life Sherpa". How's that for a pretentiously overblown title!!!. All of these columnists have one thing in common, they are scared witless or something that sounds similar. Most of the sports writers in ST. Louis look like overweight,football has-beens or never-were. They know nothing about soccer and see their little parochial world being threatened. Quite pathetic, actually. I had contemplated responding to his articles but thought better of it for the reasons advanced earlier -- why even acknowledge the existence of these neanderthals. However, I have been stewing in my own juices ever since ---- so thanks GR for providing the needed release. Keep up the great work.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Yes, there is something to be said for ignoring the nonsense but the second article was so blatantly....silly, that it begged for some sort of response.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    You want to talk about something being shoved down peoples' throats and foisted on us by the media? Then let's talk about the Blackhypes. They were page 4 news 3 years ago and now they get their own HawkeyTown supplement section to the sports page. This is a direct result of the team being broadcast by WGN radio and some good moves by Rocky Wirtz. The entire Tribune is suddenly peppered with Hawks stuff even now. During the season there were several articles printed about how to enjoy hockey and why don't African-Americans like hockey and all this. It is driving me insane. On the day Man U had it's workout at Toyota Park, one of the items in the Around Town column was where the Stanley Cup would be appearing. I'm sure some Red Devils were eating at some posh places but Dave Kaplan missed it.

    So now ESPN drives some interest in soccer. Man, you'd think it was the North Korean Broadcasting System. Short Passes is right, these guys are panicking because the anti-soccer stuff is losing its cuteness and the next generation sports writer is going to have to be able to comment intelligently on the game.

    I'd like to re-phrase the question from, "Why don't Americans like soccer?" to "Why hasn't soccer disappeared from view following the highly antagonistic treatment by the sports media?". The reason is obvious. Soccer is a great game, enjoyed by many. Sadly for the bigots, the momentum is too great and (as Morrissey states) the potential for profit too high to put the genie back into the bottle.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Remember 670 "The Score" covered the Blackhawk games for ten years before they decided to pull the plug in 2006-2007 due to the lack of interest of the Blackhawks along with a bad product. Now, not only WGN covers the Blackhawks, also The Score decides to talk Blackhawk hockey and have postgame coverage.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Yep. The Blackhawks actually had to purchase the air time to even get on the radio.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Exactly , when the media was not covering the Hawks they were not drawing anything. Yes they had a bad team but once the media started covering them again, the crowds came back.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I will take this a step further. As GR mentioned every sport has a flaw like WR flopping and looking for a pass interference call in the NFL, MLB jogging to second when they hit the ball deep in the gap along with ridiculous pitching changes, NBA players diving looking for foul calls and the NHL have stupid gimmicks like 4 on 4 OT, annual rule changes and shootouts. People hate 0-0 ties in soccer but nobody complained about the NHL settling for 0-0 ties that was instituted for 70 years during the regular season until 8 years ago by Beavis Bettman for his pleasure. I would like someone to write the negatives on the NCAA (No Catch for Any Athlete) athletics especially football and basketball having scam artist under investigation based on offering these kids thousands of dollars to buy BMW's/Bentley's to drive to campus. NCAA football and basketball is getting out of hand and the hardcore fans soon or later will get tired of these wannabes flashing around thinking their stuff doesn't stink. Nobody from the boo-ya network won't dare to say any bad about the NCAA athletics. The same sportswriters who bash soccer will never downgrade NCAA athletics and won't dare to tell fans to stop watching college sports despite the allegations that has been going on for years.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    stop giving 7 pts for touchdowns and NFL scores don't look quite so impressive anymore

    that being said, i like watching NFL, NHL, and golf. the amount of the score doesn't matter. if the amount of scoring is what was important, then basketball would be the overall best sport of all time. to some ppl it probly is, and thats fine for them

  • In reply to oliotya:

    So true.

    Coincidentally, Morrissey's handiwork also popped up on the same day that Manchester United was set to train at Toyota Park and unveil their new kits at Niketown in Chicago.

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