Rock M Roundtable!

1 - Now that the US is out of the World Cup, what do you think it will take for futbol, in the US, to eventually compete with the Brazils, and Portugals of the world.  I am wondering in a two part format a) organizationally in the ‘farm’ system of America's youth, and b) nationally to increase the collective fan base.

2 -
What is the greatest "marathon" sporting event you've ever watched?  Isner vs. Mahut (Wimbledon, 2010), Boston College vs. Texas (NCAA Regional, 2009), Syracuse vs. UConn (Big East Quarterfinal, 2009), Rocco Mediate vs. Tiger Woods (US Open, 2008), or something else?

3 - You may pick one non-Big 12, regular season college football game to attend this year. 
Which one is it?

4 -
What's the most gruesome sports injury you've ever seen live on TV? I ask this because Joel Zumaya breaking his elbow yesterday was just awful.

Doug: 1 - Just the continual development of better talent and the interest of the best athletes in the country to stick with soccer instead of moving to other sports. Even with 300 million people, this is really the first World Cup in memory where the US has been as athletic as most of its opponents, and that's thanks in large part to football, baseball basketball, and hell, even hockey competing with soccer, and winning, for the best athletes. In America, Peter Crouch probably winds up on the basketball court right after he hits his growth spurt, in England, nothing but the pitch matters, so that's where he stays. Also, the MLS has to become a top pro league for the best in America to play. So, they don't have to get experience against the best-of-the-best in the world by going to Europe. That one is a fairly tall order, but it's going to take a lot more money and more time.

2 - Isner and Mahut was crazy because it honestly looked like it could last until sunset again on Wednesday when they resumed play in the afternoon. For the first several games, neither one came anywhere close to breaking serve on the other, since neither one could return worth a damn. Ultimately, it looked like Mahut lost his concentration on the final game, but if he hadn't, I bet it could have kept going. And the 2008 US Open was fascinating just because everyone assumed Mediate would not be there on Sunday, let alone hang with Tiger through, what?, 16 or 17 of the 18 hole playoff.

3 - I'd go to any USC home game, just to see how quickly the fans abandon the team.

4 - I didn't see it happen live, but watched on tape later, Jason Kendall's ankle break/dislocation was pretty horrific. Not just the way the injury happened, but then the way he lay there, as his foot... well, pretty much dangled by a thread.

RPT: 1. America has to get enough of its top tier athletes on the soccer field if it's going to compete. It's not a rapid ascent -- players have to get better at home and then prove themselves abroad before things really start coming together collectively for the national team. As for the fans, soccer is what it is. The World Cup is a great event, and Americans will absolutely get behind it every four years. But expecting a large majority of Americans to follow soccer year-round, especially the MLS, is irrational. We're spoiled by having the best of the best in nearly every sport -- baseball, basketball, hockey, football, golf, etc. -- playing within our borders. We don't (and will never) have that in America. Americans know a watered down product when they see one, and I don't/shouldn't expect them to adopt foreign leagues as a means of coping with that.

2. I missed the majority of Syracuse/UConn while covering Mizzou at the Big 12 Championship in OKC, so I have to bow out of that one.  Isner/Mahut was awesome for the craziness of it all, but not for the quality of the match. That 18-hole playoff with Mediate and Woods was one of the most enjoyable days of golf I've ever watched.

3. Honestly, I think I'm getting that chance when I head to Tuscaloosa to watch Alabama/Florida during Mizzou's bye week.

4. Willis McGahee's knee injury in the 2002 national title game. I don't do knee injuries, man.

Michael Atchison: 1 - I’m not in the least bit qualified to answer this question, but I think there’s an obstacle to American soccer’s growth and mass understanding in the US that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.  The best professional soccer is played elsewhere, and Americans aren’t used to that.  For us, the world’s best football, baseball, basketball and hockey players are all here.  It’s hard for the casual fan to wrap his head around the notion that if you want to see the best play, you have to get up early on a Saturday morning and watch an English, Spanish or Italian league game.  The MLS just doesn’t compare (is it one of the ten best leagues in the world?  It certainly isn’t close to being one of the five best).  For fans not raised on soccer, that’s hard to get past.  I think we’re a generation away.  You’d be shocked at how many kids I know from age 6 to 18 who follow the EPL, who know Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, and who make little distinction about the prestige of the NFL and the EPL.

2 - Isner vs. Mahut was a marathon, but it was terrible tennis.  Just dreadful to watch.  I watched all of the overtimes in the Syracuse-UConn game, and that was spectacular.  I was at the Mizzou-Iowa State 4OT game, and that was pretty spectacular, too.

3 - I don’t know.  Who’s playing?

4 - After all this time, I don’t remember whether I saw Joe Theismann’s broken leg live or only through a string of replays, but it would be right at the top.

Michael Atchison: I gave my soccer answer before reading RPT's.  Looks like I could have saved myself the effort.

(30 minutes later...)

Michael Atchison: I forgot another marathon event.  I was at the Royals vs. Rangers (Saberhagen vs. Ryan) game in 1991 that went 18 innings, but I didn't make it till the end.  I had to leave after 11 or 12 innings (Sabes and Nolan were long gone) to drive to Columbia to see The Replacements at the Blue Note.  I listened all the way to the bridge at Rocheport, when the Royals finally won.  Stayed the night in CoMo, back at my desk in KC by 9:00 a.m.

I can't even imagine doing that sort of thing anymore.

ZouDave: 1 - Let's make sure people understand that the USA is likely to NEVER be Brazil.  Soccer is never going to be the #1 sport, and really #1 important cultural activity, like it is in Brazil.  As long as the USA athletes have other options, we're going to have a lesser talent pool.  We're also generations upon generations behind on fan support.  Imagine if amateur football (aka college football) was introduced in Brazil right now.  We're probably talking 100 years before any team down there has support rivaling that of Alabama.  Same situation in the USA.  Soccer is just not part of our culture like it is in most of the rest of the world.

Now, for us to "compete" with Brazil?  I don't think we're far from the point where we are going to be fielding teams that will be "any given day" teams.  We already have a team that feels like a bit of a disappointment because they only made it into the Round of 16 (side note:  this is an absurd way to think, considering we've only advanced out of group play in 1930, 1950, 1994 and 2002 prior to this year).  We've been in the last 6 World Cups and are showing that we are THE side in CONCACAF which means we're likely to be in the World Cup for generations to come.  The youth system in the USA is starting to produce players of considerable quality.  The soccer academy's first class graduated players like Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu and DeMarcus Beasley who have all played prominent roles in our last 2 World Cups.  As we get more and more exposure, and soccer becomes a real possibility for the star youth athletes in this nation, we're going to continue getting more and more of those players.  The facilities and training grounds available to USA players now are top notch, and have been built on the successes of players like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, etc.  The future players will have opportunities because of these guys.

I think the thing the USA needs the most is we need some European or South American leadership.  Bob Bradley accomplished quite a bit as the coach of the USMNT; we won the Gold Cup in 2007 (Gold Cup is the CONCACAF tournament held every 2 years, but the one held the year following the World Cup is the one that gets you into the Confederations Cup which...I've already lost most of you), we won CONCACAF in World Cup Qualifying, we placed 2nd in the Confederations Cup in 2009, and we won our group in World Cup for the first time since 1930.  But Bob Bradley, like Bruce Arena before him, can only take us so far.  We still play a style that isn't built around our talent, nor is it a style that can be counted on against all levels of opponents.  Americans still seem to play soccer the way we play basketball with passes to a player instead of into space, or defending players by keeping everything in front of you instead of truly locking onto a player.  We rely too heavily on the fast break instead of being able to break down a defense with precision passes, through-balls or attacking runs.  The next step honestly is going to have to come from getting a coaching staff in here that can teach Americans to play the game the way the best teams in the country do.  Our athletes give us an opportunity to be ranked in the Top 10 - Top 15 range in the world an honestly that's pretty fair.  Bring in an accomplished European coach like Jurgen Klinsmann, who as a player was one of Germany's most celebrated stars and helped Germany win the World Cup in 1990, and then as a coach went on to get Germany to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2006.  Klinsmann already lives in southern California where the USMNT does most of its training, and is not currently coaching anywhere, so I don't think it will be a stretch to get him.  Another option, since most national side coaches only stay with their respective teams for one World Cup cycle, is to put a full court press on Dunga, the current Brazilian coach.  It doesn't take much to coach Brazil to excellence, but Dunga has implemented a completely different style of play to Brazil than they normally play and the superstars of the world listened to him, adopted his style, and are showing quite well.  If he can get Brazil to play his style, imagine what he can do with the US side.

2 - Wow, nothing springs to mind at all.  I know I watched the Syracuse vs UConn game in 2009 but it didn't occur to me to name it until I saw it listed as an example.  I definitely didn't watch Isner vs Mahut, BC vs Texas or Mediate vs Woods.  I'll have to look at everyone elses answer and see if I watched any of those.

3 - Alabama at Tennessee.

4 - Tim Krumrie's leg in Super Bowl 23.  And I don't want to relive any other details.  Gross.

RPT: As a casual soccer fan, I am SO on board with the Klinsmann for Coach movement and was even before they hired Bradley.

Side note: EDSBS has been asking for examples of "dick moves" in college football beyond the normal running up of the score. Ron Prince in Columbia in 2006 and 2008 HAS to be in that conversation, right?

ghtd36: Coming to you LIVE from Dallas, Texas...it's GHTD36'S ROUNDTABLE RESPONSES!!!

1 - The answer, like the answers to most questions in this world, lies in Colombia. If you saw the latest edition of ESPN's tremendous documentary series "30 for 30" (which, by the way, is now the only reason I watch ESPN aside from live sporting events; Internet and MLB Network, FTW!), you saw the amazing tale of the Colombian soccer program in "The Two Escobars."

In short, the Colombian soccer program was pretty much non-existent before it was infused with a ludicrous amount of money by a fella named Pablo Escobar. You may have heard of him. Anyway, Escobar was a big soccer fan and decided to use his incredible wealth from his cocaine empire to build soccer fields around Colombia, especially in the slums. The access to a soccer infrastructure, along with financial incentives to become really good (namely, play for the teams that Escobar and his associates owned so you can make an unheard-of salary), led to Colombia becoming an unexpected soccer powerhouse.

Of course, this story doesn't necessarily end well, but there's your answer: infrastructure and incentives. The great athletes in America don't look at soccer as a way out or a viable career option, probably because the main soccer presence in America (MLS) doesn't pay all that well (a total five players in MLS are making more than $1M this season, and just one of those -- Landon Donovan -- is American).

Why would an elite American athlete chase a soccer dream when A) the infrastructure and culture doesn't support it, and B) they can make far more money in baseball ($3,297,828 average salary, $400,000 minimum) or basketball ($5,356,000 average salary, $457,588 minimum) or football ($770,000 average salary, $285,000 minimum) than in soccer ($138,169 average salary, $40,000 minimum)?

2 - I watched this one with RPT and Co. via the greatness of Slingbox in his dorm's lounge. It's what helped re-spark my interest in that particular league.

3 - Anyone @ Hawaii. You really whiffed on that one guys. That's a lay-up.

4 - I've been really lucky in that I'm usually not there to witness truly gruesome injuries. That's good, because I am a 9-year-old girl when it comes to broken bones. For example, I've never seen the Joe Theismann injury. True story. I've never actually seen it happen, and don't particularly care to. I've heard all the descriptions, and can carry on a conversation as if I had seen it, but I haven't and never will. The Willis McGahee inside-out knee is probably the most gruesome I've seen live.

RPT: I hadn't even thought about the NHL marathons I've watched, including but not limited to:

Stars def. Buffalo, Game 6, Stanley Cup Finals 1999 (Hull)
Stars def. New Jersey, Game 5, Stanley Cup Finals 2000 (Modano)
New Jersey def. Stars, Game 6, Stanley Cup Finals 2000 (Arnott)
Philly def. Pittsburgh, Game 4, Eastern Conference Semis 2000 (Keith Primeau)
Anaheim def. Stars, Game 1, Western Conference Semis 2003 (Petr Sykora)
Vancouver def. Stars, Game 1, Western Conference Quarters 2007 (One of those damn Sedins)
Stars def. San Jose, Game 6, Western Conference Semis 2008 (Morrow)

All of the other sports I might have considered turning off at one point. I don't turn off overtime playoff hockey.

(An hour later...)

ghtd36: In an unrelated topic, YES. YES. YES. YES. YES.

ZouDave: Never saw the first one.  Seemed like it was going to be a cross between Blair Witch Project and White Noise.  Blair White Noise?  Maybe.

Blair White was a WR for Michigan State, btw.  Had a pretty decent season last year.  Don't think he was drafted by anyone, probably because he was white, and I therefore guarantee he's been called a "Wes Welker" type of receiver.

No reports can confirm or deny if Blair White believes in paranormal activity, however.

ghtd36: "Paranormal Activity" is not a good film, per se, but it's a great experience in the theater. I'll never buy the DVD, and I'll likely never watch the original again, but I left the theater actually shaken.

(Two hours later...)

RPT: This just in: Sources confirm that this roundtable sucks.

Bill C.: If we're not careful, we're not going to end up in the Big Ten with this effort...

RPT: This roundtable sucks more than the MWA. I blame ZouDave's taste in music.

Did I just mix together two memes?

ghtd36: I don't believe anything until Chip Brown reports it. Then, I believe the opposite.

Michael Atchison: Dave fixed American soccer.  What more do people want from us?

ghtd36: Sorry I haven't been more active. I've been working on my column for THE ROCK M NATION PREVIEW MAGAZINE, AVAILABLE AT A STORE NEAR YOU SOON!

Michael Atchison: Already submitted mine.  Also, I’m in the June issue of Basketball Times, but I have no idea where that’s available.

RPT: I say this without any of our traditional Roundtable sarcasm: Atch's column for the RMN Missouri Football Preview is fantastic. It alone is worth the cost of the magazine.

Readers, you're on notice.

ghtd36: Ooooh! Well! I'm Michael Atchison, and I've already submitted my probably-better-written-and-more-salient column for the preview magazine! OOOOOOH! And also, buy my book, which is sooooo awesome and tells you everything you need to know about the history of Missouri basketball! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!

Sorry if any of that came off as sarcastic. It's meant to be read very seriously.

Michael Atchison: You’ve captured my voice perfectly.

ghtd36: Well, you do say all of those things.

RPT: Live feed of Atch:

ghtd36:

ZouDave: For some reason, this seems appropriate.  Playing the role of Bender is Atch:

Also, it's a great unintentional poop joke which our readers will surely appreciate.

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