Madison Memorial v. Verona
In the newly released movie "Contagion," the MEV-1 virus is spreading quickly all over the planet, facilitated by globalization and infecting its victims with an incurable course of fever and coughing followed by quick death. The CDC determines that the only way to control the spread of the disease is to isolate people with the disease from coming into contact with those not yet suffering from it, let it run its course, and hope not too many become infected. The movie provides a parallel for the remedy for protecting American sports fans from the contagion of soccer. Prevent as many people as possible from any exposure to the sport, in hopes that it will just slowly disappear from the scene. In the place of epidemiologists, doctors and nurses, the ones responsible at the local level for this "cure" are the TV sportscasters and newspaper sports writers, who prefer to cover virtually any high school sport more than soccer, including golf, tennis, volleyball and cross-country.
When not working or occasionally blogging, I help my friend John manage the Madison Memorial High School Varsity Soccer Team.
Here is an email I sent this morning to the parents and players of the Memorial Varsity and JV soccer teams, copy to every sports reporter I could locate at the Wisconsin State Journal:
Dear Memorial parents and soccer players:
I am writing to make it clear that I have not dropped the ball (the round one, not the elliptical spheroid one so beloved in Madison) in trying to get the scores of Memorial’s recent soccer games to appear in the Wisconsin State Journal.
You will see that I have copied everyone I could think of at the Wisconsin State Journal with this email, because I am frustrated. I am ignoring the classic admonition: “never get into a pissing contest with people that buy their ink by the barrel.”
Twice this year our scores have only been published after I called the newspaper back the day after the game to point out that the score did not get in the following morning’s paper.
After the Muskego game on Friday night, I sent the first email attached above to the Wisconsin State Journal staff. (I have taken to emailing our score as a way of establishing that I got this task done.) Again, the Muskego score did not appear in Saturday’s paper. So I waited until after 3:00 PM yesterday, when the sports desk telephone is manned, and called to ask that it get in the Sunday paper. I pleasantly spoke to “Matthew,” explained to him how much our players appreciated seeing their results in the box scores, and told him I was re-emailing the score to him. He said he understood completely. The second email attached is what I sent him. I pressed "send" while he was on the phone with me, and he acknowledged getting the score and promised to get it into the paper on Sunday. Alas, it didn’t happen.
We didn’t rate less than one column inch in the Scoreboard section of today’s Sports section. But if you’re a true sports aficionado, here is what you could have seen in the Scoreboard section at WSJ’s page D15:
1. Two fellows who got holes-in-one playing golf. (I am sure they and their two families were happy to see their names in print.)2. The three column inch box score from an eight-man football game between Stockbridge and Madison Abundant Life.3. Three column inches listing the starting positions for an Indy Racing League event in Motegi, Japan.4. Two column inches of the attendance figures for Brewer games.
Matthew also told me on the telephone, apparently by way of assuaging my disappointment, that this week we will see the season preview for soccer in the Wisconsin State Journal. He was so seemingly upbeat in telling me this I didn’t have the heart to explain that our season was already well past half-way over.
I have concluded that our local print sports reporting establishment (we’ve made it on TV) has decided that soccer is either beyond their ken, a “wussy” sport, or poses some insidious threat to the established sports priorities in Madison. It is almost like they are trying to prevent the contagious spread of some “Old World” virus into the pristine but unprotected body of American sports.
Here is what I would suggest to the State Journal sports staff: There are more youth soccer players in the Madison area by an order of magnitude than there are youth football players. This is only going to increase in disparity. You are fighting against the tide, and when that tide becomes too great to continue to ignore, you are going to find your staff without anyone knowing diddley-squat about soccer. You are behind the power curve on soccer.
If all of this sounds a tad bitter, you’re reading it right!
OK, so I get this off my chest by 9:45 a.m, and after church settle in for a great day of watching sports on TV. While searching the State Journal for the non-existent Spartan box score I had been excited to see in the "On the Air" column that Fox 47 would be broadcasting via tape delay the Manchester United - Chelsea English Premier League game right after the Packers game ended. Only they don't. Instead, they put on a half hour of post-game gibberish followed by "Everyone Loves Raymond." (I don't.) Now one of the great real football games from England on tap this season will be aired tonight beginning at 10:30 p.m..
American exceptionalism at its finest!