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Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Twice in a Lifetime?

Last night I got the chance to watch "Once in a Lifetime" on ESPN. The story of the New York Cosmos was something that I wanted to see for some time, being an avid soccer fan. I would consider it a documentary, however, there are a ton of highlights and old footage spliced in. The team that boasted an incredible international roster with some of soccer's all-time greats (Pele, Beckenbauer) enjoyed their successes in the late 70's and into the early 80's. Soccer had arrived in America, and the Cosmos were bigger superstars than the Yankees are today. They partied like rockstars and hung out with them too- Mic Jagger was a locker room regular.

Then TV got involved, with major networks picking up the playoffs one year. The Cosmos were upset in the semis, and viewership for the final was as bad as the NHL Finals (the game was at noon during the summer). Just like that, the TV contract was pulled, then the World Cup '86 was awarded to Mexico- bastards. The biggest market in the world could have been opened up to soccer, but instead everything folded faster than the CBA under Isiah Thomas.

Bad business planning didn't help the situation much either. All of the stars that had been recruited to the Cosmos were at the ends of their careers when the league folded. There was no effort to bring in younger players to keep things fresh, and no teams other than the Cosmos seemed to want to shell out the dough. The league was over, and hope was (and still is) lost for soccer in the US.

If there were some wealthy owners in the MLS, this formula could work again. Record high numbers watched the World Cup this year in the US, and crowds flocked to see international superstars from Barcelona and Chesea play in the States. Beckham, Ronaldo, we're looking at you- superstars who are getting older. So who's ponying up the cash?

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