Photo from SoundersFC.com
By Kristina Vaughn
October 9, 2015
It’s been a lingering question for me, mostly this season, why is soccer (and the Sounders specifically) talked about so much less on sports programming on TV and radio? Even with the USWNT winning the Women’s World Cup, there was very little chatter about soccer.
I asked a friend of mine who works for a sports radio station to answer a few questions that I had about why this may be:
Soccer/futbol/football is played all year long around the world, why is it broadcast so much less than other sports that only play for half of the year?
Basically, there are three major sports that are covered by most conventional sports radio- Football, Baseball, Basketball. Hockey used to be a 4th, but has fallen off in the last decade and a half, fueled mostly by the labor dispute that led to a lockout.
When the national teams (both Men’s and Women’s) are successful, do you see an increase in interest from listeners?
When the men’s and women’s teams are successful during the World Cup, and the Olympics (More so the World Cup) there is a genuine interest from listeners. The fever sweeps the nation, and everybody catches the wave for those couple of weeks.
What do you think it would take to get more airtime for soccer both in Seattle and across the US?
I think in the Northwest, it gets about as much airplay on radio and TV as you’re going to see. We have shows that have Adrian Hanauer and Sigi Schmidt on as guests when Sounders news breaks, and have had Sounders players on occasionally. In most of the other reaches of the country, you’ll find that MLS soccer takes even more of a backseat to bigger time local teams than it does here. The Northwest is the region that has more interest than any other in the US.
With the recent scandal involving FIFA, did that increase the soccer conversation?
It was a brief headline on our top of the hour updates, but didn’t change the conversation.
What is your favorite aspect of covering the Sounders (when you do)? What do you notice is different about our Club from other local sports teams?
There isn’t really a way to answer this; I produce the morning show, and we don’t spend any time on MLS soccer.
What is the biggest reason why soccer isn’t as entrenched in mainstream sports as football, baseball and basketball?
I’d say there are several facets. First, when you look at sports like football, they’re successful because of the dollars they generate (more than 7 BILLION dollars in the last year) and can market themselves accordingly. Football’s meteoric rise of the last 20 years can almost directly be tied into fantasy football, and the effect it’s had on the popularity of the game throughout all demographics.
That said, soccer fans often don’t do themselves any favors. The perception of soccer fan is that they’re standoffish to new or less educated fans, meanwhile, from the other side of their mouth, complain that those same people who would be casual observers don’t hold them highly in the mainstream.
I know that’s the case with me; soccer fans have ruined any interest I would have had in watching MLS soccer.
In the Seattle metro area there are three sports radio stations; KFNQ-AM (The Fan), KIRO-AM, and KJR-AM. I’m not even sure that any of them have true soccer specific programming.
If we want more coverage, more Sounders news and conversation, on our local sports radio stations, we’ll have to show that we want it; that we’ll listen to it. You want more Sounders? Go after it! The only way we can make a difference in the air time of these stations is if we call, text, tweet, Facebook, Instagram the hell out of these radio stations to talk more about our Sounders.