This week we see the end of Fox Soccer as we know it. The first channel dedicated exclusively to the sport of soccer in the US is leaving us and is being replaced by the much hyped Fox Sports 1. There is a lot being said about this new channel. From the challenge it has in front of it to compete with ESPN to what it means to soccer fans.
Losing our only dedicated channel on some level stings a bit. Fox Soccer (and before it Fox Soccer Channel and before that Fox Sports World) gave soccer fans in the US a TV channel we could call home. The channel was certainly not without it’s problems or limitations over the years, but the fact that it existed meant something to soccer fans. It helped fill a programming void that fans here had lived with for far too long. Knowing that at anytime during the day I could go there and see the sport that I love mattered. The content wasn’t always fresh and up to date. Repeats of old games weren’t all that interesting as I had already seen them at least once or twice. A lack of any really compelling original programming. Dodgy production at times. But none of that really mattered because soccer was their focus just as it’s always been mine.
As we move on from Fox Soccer, I think it is important to give credit where credit is due. Over the years Fox’s commitment to the sport has helped us see the sport grow in the US in a variety of ways. It’s introduced more people to the sport. It’s allowed fans to see soccer from other places throughout the world. It gave MLS a platform when it was so needed. It showed Concacaf Champions League matches and helped us gain a better understanding of the competition in our own backyard. It’s daily Fox Soccer Report gave us news that was dedicated to soccer in a way that SportsCenter or any other sports show never did. And it introduced me to one of my favorite people in the world of soccer – Bobby McMahon.
I also had a chance to work with Fox Soccer on a number of projects. Not to the extent that dunny has with his time as an analyst there, but I had the opportunity to work with some really great people who were completely committed to seeing the sport grow. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity you allowed me to have and also say thanks for your tireless work in promoting the game. The future success of soccer in America owes a debt of gratitude to everyone that worked at Fox Soccer over the years.
And with that, we are on to the next. Fox Sports 1 is so new that it’s hard to see how it shakes out. But I’m positive on the future. We may not have our dedicated soccer channel anymore, but I take it as a sign that we have outgrown that dedicated channel. The sport in America is now too big to be on a fringe network. It’s time to step up to a new level. The level that other major sports occupy here.
I have had a lot of conversations with people recently about the growth of the sport and it’s current place in the American sporting landscape, and all indicators look incredibly positive from where I’m standing. It’s a sport on the move. There seems to be more interest than I can ever remember. Seeing NBC and their affiliates committed to showing every Premier League game. The level that the US team is playing at. Players like Dempsey returning to MLS and the league investing in a young defender like Omar Gonzalez are all statements. Whether people agree with all these choices is not the issue. The key thing is that they are big moves being made and they matter in the grand scheme of the sport and MLS here domestically.
I’m excited about the present and very bullish on the future of the sport. Imagine when we all have a discussion five or ten years from now on the state of the sport. I can only imagine where it will be at that point.
But before we move forward, I wanted to take a brief moment to thank Fox Soccer for all their help to the soccer landscape in America. The sport truly would not be where it’s at without you.