Friday, December 6, 2013

MLS Cup: League doing fine, thank you

Press coverage grows but still needs sophistication

Not surprised to see a blank look on Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes (above) if he has to field some wild inquiries from a still-young football journalism pool in the U.S. However, the problem is not the small, yet growing world of journalists covering the game here. It's when league supporters have to sift through stories written by clueless correspondents sent by editors solely because it's a championship game, ignoring the, you know, season overall.

Coverage of the game was practically non-existent about 20 years ago and continued to be so even after MLS was formed and launched in the mid-1990s. And although there has been and still is an array of talented, knowledegable writers covering not only the American domestic league but football on a global level, we'll still see some forms of narrow-minded coverage that has fans of the game shaking their heads.

Progressively, the media has adjusted and has slowly accepted the game's stamp on the U.S. sports scene over the years. That part is true. But that's generally speaking. Luckily, we have established writers that are recognized by fans all over the country.

There have been lots of interesting angles provided by reporters and bloggers alike for Saturday's final in Kansas City against Real Salt Lake. But, sadly, they're mostly confined to publications known only to league supporter unless casual fans end up googling MLS Cup itself. Basically, many of the top news organizations may not have a specific beat reporter on the scene for the title match. Truth be told, it's more likely that there may be as many foreign correspondents at the match than U.S. ones. That's not an exaggeration.

But there are lots of stories questioning the validity of the teams, shrugged off as too small-market for a final, or why they're named Sporting and Real. Some even ridicule the league's minuscule ratings, fans and overall ambience. Another even pointed out the ridiculous timeslot MLS decided to go with as college football would surely destroy its ratings.

So is bad press better than no press?