There's a very simple reason why soccer (specifically professional soccer) isn't popular as a spectator sport in the US: the best players in the world go to play in the pro leagues in the UK, Spain, and Germany as opposed to here. Watching Major League Soccer in the US is the equivalent of watching AAA baseball or the Greek pro basketball leagues - they might technically be pros, but we're getting a minor league product by comparison to other countries and not being exposed to the best of the best. In contrast, the best basketball and baseball players in the world play in the United States regardless of where they are originally from (i.e. China, Japan, Germany, Dominican Republic, etc.).
If you watch a Major League Baseball game versus a minor league baseball game that both happen to have the exact same score, you can still tell that the Major League players are at a much higher skill level. Likewise, the average sports fan is going to be able to tell that a English Premier League match consists of higher caliber athletes than those playing in an MLS game when you see them side-by-side. When US audiences get to watch the best of the best play soccer (i.e. this year's Confederation Cup and past World Cups), the audiences have actually been very strong. It's simply the quality of play that matters (not lack of scoring, culture, or other popular inane reasons).
However, unless the English Premier League either expands or transports itself to US cities, the quality of play (or lack thereof) will always be the problem for soccer as a spectator sport in the US. Until the MLS or some other league attracts the best players in the world just like the NBA, MLB, and NHL do in their respective sports, the average US sports fan isn't going to be interested in watching the minor league version. We need the best of the best to be playing here in order for there to be a long-term change.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 30.06.2009 @ 13:53
Michael Jordan was drafted by the Bulls when I was starting out in grade school and the last Bulls championship was after my sophomore of college. So, essentially my entire childhood and young adult life coincided with the MJ Era - as a Chicagoan who loved to watch and play basketball, I couldn't have grown up more spoiled in that respect.
Many of the post-MJ years for the Bulls were ugly, but I never wavered in my loyalty to them. When the Bulls miraculously won the NBA draft lottery last season, I knew right away that this was a franchise-altering event with the opportunity to draft Derrick Rose. See my comments before last year's NBA Draft:
Frankly, Rose has even surpassed the very high expectations that I set for him a year ago considering that starting point guard is the most difficult position for a rookie in all of sports other than starting quarterback. I think that LeBron James will be king in the NBA for as long as he plays (and there's a part of me that's very scared that he was sent to Cleveland as karmic retribution for all of those years that MJ made Craig Ehlo and the Cavs his whipping dogs), but Rose seriously has the potential to be the clear #2 player in the league overall after Kobe retires, which I'll take in a heartbeat (especially if the Bulls can get a true low post scorer to pair hum up with).Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 4.05.2009 @ 08:05
And to Frank Tank. The Chicago Bears management couldn’t find a good quarterback at a Manning family reunion.
Jay Cutler vehemently disagrees!Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 30.04.2009 @ 08:39
re: Mark - "When do moderates EVER support conservatives? When do moderates EVER spend their time and money supporting conservatives? If they believe in the big tent, does that not mean they should support any Republican?"
I think that's more of a function of today's political landscape, where most moderate politicians are from moderate districts or swing states and always are going to face tough election battles from the opposing party (in contrast to many ideologues that live in very one-sided districts or states and essentially always have safe seats). Thus, it takes a lot more money and time to secure those moderate seats and, as we've seen through history, the party that wins those moderate seats is the one that controls the legislative branch. Rick noted the liberals that foamed at the mouth in terms in winning a battle to get rid of Joe Lieberman by knocking him out in the 2006 Democratic primary, but then lost the overall war when Lieberman came back to win the Senate seat over Ned Lamont as an independent. Those liberals were so worried about throwing red meat to their base that they forgot to recognize that Connecticut voters aren't the same as West Coast voters. Likewise, it takes a different type of Republican to win elections in Pennsylvania compared to South Carolina (and, in seeing your apparent disdain for the Governator, from a realistic standpoint, winning a statewide election as a Republican in your home state of California takes a much different game plan than the rest of the country). Different states and districts need much different political strategies. The problem is that the Republican Party seems to be approaching every local area across the country as if they think the same way as the rural South and that's simply horrific strategy.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 29.04.2009 @ 14:20
Well put, Rick. I agree that there's a significant distinction between differences in ideology versus philosophy and that the ability to attract a broad base of voters (which give conservatives the power to actually act on their principles instead of being the loud vocal minority on talk radio shows) is critical to the conservative movement.
I always try to look at political strategy (which I define as how a party of group presents its views to the general public) the same way that I analyze my favorite sports teams. For instance, like you, I'm a rabid Bears fan and, therefore, can't stand the Packers. However, if the Packers make a good play against the Bears, I can acknowledge that as a rational person. Just because I recognize that the Packers' strategy is working against the Bears doesn't mean that I'm a Packers fan all of the sudden - on the contrary, I want all Bears fans to understand why the Packers are successful so that we can push the Bears to do things better.
Likewise, I'm a Republican that recognizes that the Democrats have a much better political strategy in both the short-term and long-term and if the GOP doesn't take the correct lessons from the Arlen Specter situation, we're at risk of allowing a major political shift that will truly put conservatives at an extreme disadvantage for decades (if it hasn't happened already). That view doesn't make me a Democrat - it simply makes me aware of the actual world that we live in today as opposed to the echo chamber of talk radio and many blogs.
Any Republican or conservative that believes that the political changes in this country are simply due to media fawning over Barack Obama or some type of outside conspiracy are just like Bears fans that would complain that they lost to Packers because of a referee call without understanding that the Bears would have won the game if they had a better strategy themselves. The Bears might have a core philosophy have running the ball and playing great defense, but if they aren't winning games because they can't pass the ball, it would be ludicrous for the team to throw up its hands and rigidly stick to its philosophy by throwing out everyone that suggests that they pass the ball. By the same token, the GOP has a core political philosophy, but if it isn't winning elections because it can't attract anyone outside of its ideological base, it's just as ludicrous for the party to throw up its hands and rigidly stick to its philosophy by throwing out everyone that suggests that it bring in people outside of its ideological base.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 29.04.2009 @ 12:56
I feel as though our "bend-but-don't-break" defense has been exposed over the past few weeks. Even though the Bears D was able to completely stop the run against Tennessee, we completely given up the entire middle of the field for short 7 to 10 yard passes. That allows the opposing offense to have extended drives where even if they don't score on us, they get far enough downfield that we end up with horrible field position (like yesterday). It's the proverbial "death by a thousand paper cuts" in terms of football. Rex certainly did not have a great day, but there the Bears really didn't do well in any facet of the game at all. While the Bears are probably still the best team in the NFC North, the pass defense is nowhere near where it needs to be for the long haul.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 10.11.2008 @ 12:39
Amen to Old Paws - conservatism does not mean mandating one's set of moral values over others, yet that's how this political philosophy is perceived today. With all due respect to Gayle Miller, "insisting on morality" is exactly what the Republican Party has been doing over the past 8 years and there has been rightly a huge backlash against that. I'm a Christian, yet to state that my religious views are in any shape or form morally superior to those of my friends that are Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or atheist would be wrong-headed. If there is one common moral that should be insisted upon in America, it's freedom - freedom to practice your own religion (or no religion at all), build your own business, speak freely, invest, have control over your own body, marry who you want, and earn a living without the government intervening in either your social or financial lives. Not too long ago, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan made spreading the ultimate American value of freedom here and across the world their central purpose and theme. However, when conservatives started making their central purpose to force society to adhere to what they believed to be "moral values", that's when the American people started moving away. To intimate that anyone who doesn't rigidly adhere to a supposed moral code "doesn't stand for anything" is ludicrous. Freedom for all Americans is what I stand for and that's the most important value of all.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 4.11.2008 @ 14:37
Accounting jobs going overseas? Names, places and companies please. I haven’t heard anything like that."
I have worked for a Big Four accounting firm and much of the high volume/flat fee work (i.e. less complex income and sales tax forms) is being shifted to places such as India (much in the same manner as a lot of the pure coding and programming work of software and IT companies). The higher value consulting work regarding more complex accounting and tax advice is staying the U.S. as of now. Corporate clients are increasingly asking for a mix of offshore work in order to hold costs down. There's no real right or wrong to this - the global marketplace is what it is and you can either work with it to take advantage of the opportunities out there or you ignore it at your peril. The key for any business in the U.S. is to be able to produce more of the high value work that others will pay a premium for. The days of people paying American wages for commoditized services and products that can be replicated elsewhere for a fraction of the price were over long ago (which the labor unions and the fear mongerers in both parties with respect to free trade either don't understand or are ignoring introductory-level economics to pander to the increasing populist sentiment of Americans).
That's not to say that we shouldn't care for people that have lost their jobs. As someone earlier suggested, the approach that we ought to take is to have the equivalent of the GI Bill or some type of re-training program for older workers to adjust to the new economy. In fact, this was actually suggested by, all of people, Bill Clinton back in 1992 (who for all of his faults, deserves credit for being one of the handful of Democrats who were correct on NAFTA and globalization in general). The problem was that there was an allergic reaction to this suggestion by labor union leadership, who were much more interested in keeping their power than actually helping their members (since, of course, if their members actually received education and new skills, there was a pretty good chance that they wouldn't be union members any longer). Imagine if these workers at GM, Ford, and similar companies had received skills training 16 years ago - people in places such as Michigan and Ohio would now have the chance to actually participate and benefit from the global economy, as opposed to trying to legislate back jobs that will never return.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 6.11.2008 @ 10:31
I'd have to largely agree with retire05's characterization of the Illinois political landscape. Overall, Illinois has a whole lot more in common with New York and California in terms of politics than it does with its "middle American" neighbors of Indiana and Iowa (much less places like Nebraska). I live in DuPage County (not far south from Rick's hometown of Algonquin), which during the Reagan era was called "the most Republican county in the nation", but is now ground zero for several toss-up Congressional races (all of which involve long-time Republican seats being either challenged or overtaken by Democrats). Even as a long-time Republican, I have a "love-hate" relationship with the Chicago area being characterized as middle America simply because of its geographic location - I believe that there's a certain personal openness here that can often be lacking on the coasts, but I cannot stand the implications that this area is sometimes lumped in with what I consider to be negative Midwestern stereotypes of being unsophisticated, uneducated, not worldly, etc. "Middle America" is not a monolithic voting bloc that has the same supposed "values", just as the rural inland areas of California don't vote the same way as the people in San Francisco.
Anyway, as we will likely see tomorrow, the challenge for Republicans in the long-term is that places such as Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, and Nevada are going to look a whole lot more like Illinois from a political standpoint as opposed to Nebraska. This significant change to the electoral map is going to force the Republican Party to figure out how it is going to reach voters in those states in the future.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 3.11.2008 @ 10:51
I would probably be characterized as one of those "elite Republicans" as a 30-year old libertarian that lives in the heart of Obama territory in the Chicago area. Regardless of whether you're an evangelical or a libertarian, though, kat-missouri hit it right on the head with (a) the 5 things that the GOP is lacking right now and (b) the fact that party loyalty can only be achieved if the other 4 things are achieved, as opposed to the other way around.
The Republican Party has a choice in the event that it loses big next week - it can work toward becoming an inclusive majority party or it can be an ideologically pure minority party. For the last 8 years, people that have the viewpoints of Peggy Noonan and David Brooks have been called RINOs, closet Democrats, disloyal to the conservative cause, etc. Even if you sincerely believe that (wrongly, in my opinion), the big picture is that if the Republicans ever want to win another national election, it's going to have to draw in those supposed RINOs, closet Democrats, and people who don't adhere to a 100% conservative platform. The demographic changes in this country mandate this. Next week, the Republicans are likely going to pay in interior Western states they once held because of increasing wariness in those areas of heavy-handed social conservatism (outside of gun ownership issues) and the influx of Hispanics whose memories of nativist Republican statements are fresh. At the same time, Virginia is likely going to turn blue and North Carolina threatens to do the same as a result of the increase of transplants from the more liberal Northeastern and Midwestern cities. The supposed permanent Republican majority that Karl Rove envisioned, which was really just a "50 plus 1" model, has turned into a potentially a broad-based Democratic majority where the Republicans need to try to turn 100 or more electoral votes back to their column every 4 years.
I fear that because the voices that advocate ideological purity are louder, shriller, and more persistent, the Republican Party is going to actually look more like the populist anti-intellectual party that Rick has written about over the past couple of weeks as opposed to evaluating how it can increase its membership. If that's going to be the case, then the GOP will lose me as a member once and for all. I'm not suggesting that I'm the embodiment of young Republicans today, but the party has done almost nothing to attract people that think the same way I do, where I believe in limited government intervention in not only our financial lives, but our personal lives, as well. In fact, the evangelical wing of the party seems to relish in pushing my type away. That's fine if you want a lock-step platform that is never challenged. That's also fine if you never want to win another national election again.Comment Posted By Frank the Tank On 30.10.2008 @ 17:20
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