Tag Archives: Millennials

Five reasons why soccer will eventually surpass football in the US – #4: The children are the future

Soccer’s American base is young, passionate, and more globally minded than any generation in history.

In part one we saw ESPN analyst Rich Luker explaining that in the 12-24 demographic, soccer is already bigger than any sport except American football. And yesterday, in part three, we saw that the bright young entrepreneurs driving MLS are tightly focused on the sport’s emerging supporter culture, which in some places already rivals just about anything you see in Europe.

In Portland, Paulson sat through a debriefing with his new team’s previous owners. “They were baseball guys who told me about the Timbers Army and simply said, ‘Be careful of those guys. It is an us-and-them situation. Whatever you do, stay out of their section.’ It took going to one game for me to realize they were one of the best things we had going. They were organized, authentic and had the makings of a real historic supporters movement. We opened up lines of communication with an approach that made it clear: We may not always agree with you, but we will always respect you.”

“I quickly learned that soccer is not like other sports where the fans just care about winning,” Paulson concludes. “Here they care about everything. Once I tried to change the logo without any input and practically had a mutiny.”

The guy in the seat next to me on that flight I mentioned yesterday? He told me all about that infamous Timbers logo dustup. He was proud that the Timbers Army was able to work with ownership to reach an accord on the club’s brand, which he felt belonged to the fans. He still hates Nike, though, because the proposed look and feel was all Seattle in his view. In other words, everything Paulson is telling ESPN here is dead accurate from the perspective of a TA section leader.

These supporters groups are under-30s, too, which means they’re going to be around awhile. The Millennial generation takes a lot of flak for its failings, but they’re born organizers and are instinctively communal. As such, they’re extremely comfortable in the kinds of collective, collaborative environments that surround successful soccer fanbases around the world.

They’re also the most diverse generation the nation has ever seen culturally and ethnically. They relish the opportunity to be more global than their predecessors. And they have a dramatically different relationship with spectator sports than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Back to that ESPN post noted above:

The U.S. soccer audience is also unique in Luker’s eyes. “It is a true community. The only group that comes close are college sports fans or followers of the Grateful Dead. They embrace soccer as a communal lifestyle as opposed to a personal experience or a community that only exists on gameday.”

Luker’s analysis has revealed the reason soccer fandom tends to be expressed on a 24/7 basis. “Soccer was originally an expression of national identity in hotbeds like the United Kingdom or Brazil,” he said. “So that seed has been imported and sown here in the United States.”

Pretty good turnout for the Rocky Mountain Blues (Denver), given that it’s an 6am kick time for a preseason match.

Through decades of study, Luker was able to pinpoint the exact moment soccer’s built-in early advantage traditionally evaporated. “The game was massive up to the age of 13, when sport was all about bonding with male peers, but in middle school, it became all about cross-bonding with other genders and high school football shot right to the top,” he said. “You simply can’t beat the social lubrication of the homecoming football game.”Soccer’s social perception was further weakened by the sport’s stigmatization in the 1990s. “Middle school kids were seen to lack the guts to play one of the big sports — baseball, football, or basketball — preferring to play soccer, the sport their moms were pushing.”

But the sporting tectonic plates have shifted. America’s cultural diversification, increasingly globalized outlook, and widespread access to the Internet all have benefitted soccer more than the other more traditional American sports. “In the last two years, Americans have been exposed to elite soccer on a very regular basis, which has allowed us to appreciate the sport and develop a savvy about it in a way we could not before,” Luker said.

The impact of these factors has been as powerful as they are simple. “Kids growing up today gain cachet and social currency by knowing about the sport,” Luker said. The old stigma has fallen away. Pride and esteem have become attached to the game for the first time as Americans have collectively undergone a “now we understand what it is all about” moment. It is only a matter of time ’til we see soccer take off in a big way.”

Add all this to a new generation of smart, innovative owners who grasp the value of an organic, grassroots audience and you’re onto something.

Tomorrow: If you win it, they will come….

Image Credits: Findwell.com and Rocky Mountain Blues

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Mark Zuckerberg: Is it time for Facebook’s boy genius to go?

Today’s LA Times asks a good question: Is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoodie as Facebook CEO?

Business writers Walter Hamilton and Jessica Guynn dig into an issue that I suspect some of us have seen before, and it’s remarkable that the clamor over Zuck specifically hasn’t been louder for some time.

Should Mark Zuckerberg, the social media visionary but neophyte corporate manager, step aside as CEO to let a more seasoned executive run the multibillion-dollar company? Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg: Is it time for Facebook’s boy genius to go?

North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war

Rachel Held Evans nails it:

When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

My generation is tired of the culture wars.  Continue reading North Carolina’s Amendment One and America’s youth: more on winning the battle and losing the war

Getting hired and getting ahead: five important tips for the career-minded college student or recent grad

My alma mater, Wake Forest University, has a “career connectors” group on LinkedIn, and there’s currently a thread where one of the university’s career dev folks asks for some input on a project she’s working. Specifically, she asks: “If you were hiring a recent graduate, what top five professional skills do you want him/her to possess to be a strong candidate in your profession?”

Great question. Since I’m all in favor of young Deacons taking the world by storm, I thought I’d try to contribute some advice. Here’s a slightly buffed out version of what I wrote.

1: Develop communications skills. Especially the ability to write clearly and flawlessly. The erosion of writing skills over the past 20 years has been dramatic, and a student who can demonstrate this ability has a huge advantage over the competition. A warning, though. Continue reading Getting hired and getting ahead: five important tips for the career-minded college student or recent grad

The American Parliament: our nation’s 10 political parties

Part two in a series.

Forgive me for abstracting and oversimplifying a bit, but one might argue that American politics breaks along the following 10 lines:

Jon & Kate: a sign of the times to come

If you’ve been off-planet for the last few months you may have missed the news: Jon & Kate have split, and in the process migrated from the relative banality of the TV listings over to the hyper-banality of the tabloids. I’m still not sure what the future holds for the popular “reality” show, but whatever it is, Gosselin family 2.0 equals Jon minus Kate.

It occurs to me that these events represent something significant in our culture. Since about 1980 or so we’ve been in one of our periodic “childrens is the most preciousest things in the whole wide world” phases. (For more on the generational cycles that produce this dynamic, see Generations, 13th Gen and Millennials Rising by William Howe and Neil Strauss, two men whose work I have referenced a number of times in the past.) In the previous generation (Gen X), children were an afterthought for most parents, who had been socialized in far more self-centric times. Continue reading Jon & Kate: a sign of the times to come

Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?

Part two in a series

How did it happen? Why did it happen? There’s simply no way to measure how many hours have devoted to these questions in the ten years and four days since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at Columbine High School, and while we don’t (and never will) have all the answers, we do have some of them. Obviously a good bit of the discussion focuses on the individuals themselves, and other analyses cast a broader net, examining the social factors that shaped the individuals. In a way, the question we’re still debating perhaps boils down to nature vs. nurture. Were Harris and Klebold Natural Born Killers? Or are they better understood as by-products of deeper social trends and dynamics?

The answer is probably “All of the above,” but we can’t simply check C and be on our merry, uncritical way. Continue reading Ten years on: was Columbine the rule or the exception?

Ten years on: the enduring lessons of Columbine

Part one of a series

April 20, 2009: 11:19 am MDT

Ten years ago a co-worker turned to me and said something that I’ll never forget, no matter how long I live: “Hey, Sammy, there’s been a school shooting in Littleton.”

Since that day a great deal has been written and said about Columbine High School and the events of 4.20.99, and like a lot of other people I’ve tried my hardest to make sense of something that seemed (and still seems) inherently senseless. Tried and failed. Now, ten years on, the grief hasn’t fully dissipated here in the city that I have come to call home, and even if we manage to understand the whos, whats, and hows, there’s a part of us that’s doomed to wrestle forever with the whys. Continue reading Ten years on: the enduring lessons of Columbine

An open letter to America’s progressive billionaires

Dear Mr. Buffet, Mr. Gates, Mr. Turner, Mr. Soros, Ms. Winfrey, and any other hyper-rich types with progressive political leanings:

If this essay has, against all odds, somehow made its way to your desk, please, bear with me. It’s longish, but it winds eventually toward an exceedingly important conclusion. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I’ll do my best to reward your patience.
_______________

In the 2008 election, Barack Obama won a landmark political victory on a couple of prominent themes: “hope” and “change.” He has since been afforded ample opportunity to talk about these ideas, having inherited the nastiest economic quagmire in living memory and a Republican minority in Congress that has interpreted November’s results as a mandate to obstruct the public interest even more rabidly than it was doing before. Reactions among those of us who supported Obama have been predictably mixed, but even those who have been critical of his efforts to date are generally united in their hope that his win signaled the end of “movement conservatism” in the US. Continue reading An open letter to America’s progressive billionaires

TunesDay: that new old sound

If you pay attention to my music entries, you may have noticed a recurrent theme. It seems a lot of the bands I hear these days, many of which I really like, remind me of bands from the past. Like The Mary Onettes:

I recently tripped across one such example, Sweden’s The Mary Onettes. They can’t seem to make up their minds whether they want to be The Church, Echo & the Bunnymen, or maybe something along the Joy Division/New Order continuum.

And The Flaws:

In a nutshell, The Flaws are [Joy Division] meets The Killers with a smattering of Johnny Marr. Continue reading TunesDay: that new old sound