Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Soccer has already surpassed hockey on the American sports landscape...."

It's a throw-away line in the fourth paragraph of a column by the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon last Friday morning. Mike's column concerns itself with professional soccer and the curiosity that is David Beckham.

It is the only time in the article that the word "hockey" appears, but it is in the paragraph in which it doesn't appear that might be more significant to the sport:

"Soccer is an international sport and has been for decades. Basketball is an international sport and has been since the 1970s. People all over the globe play both regularly, and support their own leagues. Baseball, slowly, has extended its international reach, but seems to have enough restraint to know that selling a few jerseys overseas and scheduling games there on a consistent basis are two wildly different things."

With the exception of soccer, what sport is more "international" than hockey? Europe is teeming with hockey leagues. 46 countries were represented in the IIHF world rankings for 2007; 33 in the women's rankings. The NHL is represented by countries "A" (Austria) to "Z" (if you accept the NHL's symbol for South Africa, "ZAF," the birthplace of Olaf Kolzig). Robyn Regehr was born in Recife, Brazil, for heaven's sake (wonder if he plays soccer).

Is it this "international" quality a burden for soccer in the US? for hockey?

1 comment:

errantelf said...

FWIW, that line jumped out at me too and I wasn't happy about it.