Despite the fact that it lasts all of eight days, there’s actually a lot going on in sports over Spring Break. MLB will continue to play preseason games as it makes its way towards the start of the 2011 season, there’ve been so many developments in the ongoing NFL labor saga that who knows where that situation will be by the time we get back, every Division I men’s and women’s college basketball conference still playing will wrap up its conference tournament, Selection Sunday will determine which schools actually get to go to the Big Dance, the NHL and NBA playoff races will somehow become even tighter and more intense than they already are and oh yeah, the 2011 Major League Soccer season will begin.
That’s right, Major League Soccer. Surely you haven’t forgotten MLS? Surely you must know that on March 15 at 9:30 Eastern Daylight Time, 6:30 Pacific Daylight Time, the Seattle Sounders will play the Los Angeles Galaxy in the first game of the season for America’s premier soccer league. Alright, you got me, I didn’t even know either until I saw a big, unsubtle ad for the game on the side of an NHL scoreboard page on ESPN.
This isn’t because I dislike soccer. On the contrary, with apologies to the Park School’s resident soccerphobe, Professor Mead Loop, I actually like soccer a lot. I watched the World Cup last summer, I covered Ithaca College’s very own men’s soccer team for the Ithacan last fall and I think it’s a really cool sport with lots of drama. It’s got a lot in common with ice hockey and as anyone who actually reads this blog probably knows by now, ice hockey only happens to be my favorite sport to watch.
So since I like soccer so much, why don’t I watch MLS that often? Maybe it’s the fact that, due to a couple in-season tournaments, MLS’ schedule gets pretty disjointed about halfway through the year.
Maybe it’s the playoff system where instead of letting a couple sub-.500 teams into the playoffs, the league has the next best team take a postseason spot, resulting in scenarios like Real Salt Lake winning the Eastern Conference championship.
Maybe it’s the fact that so many of the star European players who join the league are slightly past their prime and that the moment a real star emerges in MLS, they get signed away by one of the European leagues.
Maybe it’s the fact that none of North America’s club tournaments are covered as well as the Champions League in Europe.
Maybe it’s the fact that I have no real natural rooting interests since the two teams I live nearest to are Toronto FC, which is located in another country, and the New York Red Bulls, who play about seven to nine hours away from Buffalo.
As much as anything though, my reasons for not watching MLS as often as I’d like to come down to two reasons. First, I just don’t have the time to follow every sport as intensely as I do the NHL and the NFL. And secondly, since I spend most of the year here in Ithaca and away from home, I just don’t have constant access to the Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN’s MLS broadcasts.
Maybe that’ll change this year. But for better or worse, I wouldn’t bet on it.