Keep soccer ‘homey’

I would venture to guess, Coach Ted Lasso of the Tottenham Hotspurs has a better handle on the Premier League than most Americans.

The fictional character is the poster child on advertisements for NBC Sports as it tries to import European Soccer into America. Granted, the commercials are original.

In one clip, coach Lasso is introduced during a press conference as an American coach in London. At one juncture, he is asked about goals during the upcoming season and he responds, “We’re going to win a lot of games and we’re going to get into the playoffs.”

A reporter interjects and states there are no playoffs. Immediately, coach Lasso departs replies, “My job just got a lot easier.”

In a separate clip, coach Lasso explains to his assistant, “That’s not a tackle. They are just sliding around.”

My thought is this – isn’t there already a professional soccer league based in the United States? But for some reason, the major networks don’t give the MLS its just due.

Other than Landon Donovan, who else is there to market? The NBA, MLB and even professional golf have their fixtures, but unless you reside in a major market the names of soccer players don’t immediately come to mind.

Only a two-hour drive away in Columbus, Ohio, are the Crew. My wife and I attended a Saturday night home match against the New England Revolution. Didn’t know a single soul on either roster but enjoyed the athleticism of the players.

Especially admired the cheering section designated in one corner of the stadium. Plenty of black and yellow to go around as the Hudson Street Hooligans showed their support of the Crew while decked out in their favorite costumes.

The constant chants and sounds of vuvuzelas reminded me of World Cup soccer. Just not quite the magnitude.

If major networks want to make a splash, stay close to home and promote what’s right under their nose. As for Premier League soccer, the difference in time zones is enough to put me to sleep.

Maybe what I need is the flashcard system coach Lasso used to make American comparisons to English teams. Example, Manchester United. Super-rich. Either love them or hate them.

Coach Lasso’s connection, “Dallas Cowboys.”

* Something has to give: Read Rick Reilly’s recent column about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Got me to thinking about my college days back in Illinois and Iowa. If I’m an athlete and I’m seeking to get my foot in the door with sportswriting, I’m not hesitating about accepting a part-time position with the local newspaper.

Of course, I don’t get paid. Otherwise my eligibility is at stake as an athlete. Yet, here is a classmate – not involved in sports – working the same position at the same newspaper receiving a check every two weeks.

Multiple entities are making a dime (sometimes millions) off the Manziel name. Reminds me of a pawn in chess.

I don’t know where to draw the line in terms of paying the college athlete, but something has to give.

Contact Kerry Patrick at kpatrick@newsandsentinel.com