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A primer on Major League Soccer.

At the annual retreat for work, one of the sessions involved presenting about organizations we found interesting or good models. Finally, all my knowledge and time spent on BigSoccer and MLSNet paid off. Not all of us were tagged to present, and I felt really bad for eveyone else who actually spent some time researching and preparing for their presentations. I just came in ready to wing it, with some main points I’d thought of on the drive in, and somehow managed to impress the judges enoough to come in first. Here are some of the points I made, as best as I can remember.

I chose Major League Soccer (MLS) as the organization I presented on, not because they are doing very important work or working on some great cause. But they are trying to succeed at something – selling soccer to Americans – in the face of many challenges. First off, the team sports marketplace in the US is crowded with the NFL, MLB, NBA, and – until the lockout – the NHL commanding most sport’s fans attention. Second, they are trying to sell a sport which is seen as foreign, unexciting, unmanly by many sports fans and sports reporters. And finally, a number of sports leagues, some better backed and marketed have failed recently. The XFL, backed by Vince McMahon, failed after only one season. Even the WUSA, founded on the heels and hubris of the USA Women’s World Cup soccer team, was forced to fold after 3 seasons.