Thursday, July 24, 2014

Grantland SWPL Signals

Grantland sucks because you know it has the potential to be awesome but it is a circle jerk of progressive, SWPL status signaling. "Long form sports journalism skewed towards a younger crowd." That could be awesome. "Sports stories written for poseurs, SWPLs and people who hate sports." Not awesome. I like to criticize them and snipe at them on Twitter. It becomes comical how they respond, and the quick reaction to nut-job if you point out something obvious like "Hey, no one cares about the black secretary on Mad Men except you. Stop it SWPL." It might be a weekly contest as to who can out-SWPL who. They kicked it up a notch with "Best Sports Movie Villain of All Time".

Quickly in paragraph three, you get a snarky comment citing Hollywood's racism "tries to save the youths of black America by giving them pizza and letting them listen to rap while they play baseball because I guess black people aren’t any good at baseball unless they can listen to rap while they play it". It was probably to have rap music in the movie and on the soundtrack to appeal to black viewers since it was about a whitish guy helping black kids overcome inner-city struggles through sports (SWPL heaven). They have to signal they are on the right side of history. You already know where this is ending don't you.

Best line goes to Ivan Drago for "if he dies, he dies" or "I must break you". Amazing villain lines from an evil Commie boxer. We're doing OK. Best villain monologue somehow shoehorns a Lebowski mention. This is SWPL terrible. Best villain who could turn good is a discussion of Drago (again, how memorable!) and the guy from Mighty Ducks 2. Worst villain to possibly turn it around, I quote, "Racism in Remember the Titans. There’s no hope". They don't really mention another. Signal with claxon alarms. Was not the entire movie about overcoming racism through football? You mean there is no villain in any sports movie that they could discuss as horribly unredeemable? The bad guy in Karate Kid 3, Shelly Marcone in The Last Boy Scout, or any asshole in any sports film? Heinous Acts involves a Kickboxer film. Worst ideological beliefs mention the Nazis in Victory (easy and.... the neo-nazis in Higher Learning. Wait, sports films. That was not a sports film. It was a college film or John Singleton masturbation sequence. Really SWPLs at Grantland? They finish things with best feud and best/worst looking villain where we get some homoeroticism thrown in and anti-Asian writing. Maybe Nic Cage is onto something.

Like all modern clickbait internet media, they get to "the list". It's Grantland. It's SWPL Sports. It's a "best" list. Of course number one is a non-sports character played by Tupac Shakur. Grantland is doing a good job of trying to push the idea that Tupac was a good actor. He plays a drug dealer. These closet cases call him devastatingly handsome. Greatest villain no way associated with playing a sport in a sports movie would be "Milo" in The Last Boy Scout. This is about SWPL cred, which is the only kind of cred that matters. It's about selecting a non-athlete character as the best villain in a movie genre about athletic competition. It's about signaling how goddamn progressive you are in every, single thing you do.

For the record...

5. The Warden from the original "The Longest Yard" - He nails the corrupt, Southern prison warden obsessed enough with football to threaten jail time to win big. Doesn't nail the accent, but you hate him.
4. Apollo Creed - Nice film version of Ali. Charismatic and condescending enough to get you behind the palooka underdog Rocky. His turn as a good guy makes his death in Rocky 4 so startling, well, to little kids who saw it in the theater.
3. Johnny Lawrence - I should have typed Cobra Kai, the dojo he trained in, which was run by an ex-Vietnam Vet from the special forces. Their slogan "no mercy" was once used by a Little League All Star team I played against. His minions were hysterical. Lawrence was the perfect '80s teen villain and even cheats at the end, making you hate him more.
2. Clubber Lang - He was Mike Tyson before there was a Mike Tyson. His lines, "Prediction? Pain", or "I'm gonna crucify him... real bad", and "hey woman hey woman...". He is an asshole to everyone. He kills Mickey. He trains in an old, dank looking gym. He was so memorable that they Mr. T into the A-Team. He also was believable as a boxer.
1. Ivan Drago -  Sports movies are usually team sports movies so it is hard to have a villain as we want to build drama between two people: one good and one bad. Even in team movies, focus can slide to the coaches to have the duel. Ivan Drago in 1985 was a perfect phony villain from the USSR. He kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition. He has great lines. He is a portrayed as a machine. A product of the science behind the Iron Curtain that we knew had been juicing athletes. It was the Cold War.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Soccer Will Grow Its Niche in America

Soccer is a niche sport in America. Always will be. That is okay because outside football, all sports are niche sports. College will always draw some fans from supporting the professionals because "it's not about the money" cliches. The size of the niche is what matters. Soccer can progress to a spot higher than even hockey and basketball. Baseball has a middle to upper white-asian and all hispanics niche. Basketball is a blacks and very few whites niche. Hockey is for whites on northern states. Tennis and golf are for upper middle and higher class Americans. Soccer can ride a nice wave to a larger niche.

If trends continue changes in American demographics will help soccer. A larger hispanic population will create new soccer viewers. Unlike the Democrats, soccer's hope is not all on hispanic wombs. Soccer can benefit from the current media scare about football related head injuries. Middle class white moms can guide their tots towards soccer and not football. Like all competitive endeavours, pro sports are a giant funnel with filters. More bodies helps regardless. The other benefit is a weird one. Soccer is a low equipment cost but large space needed sport. The suburbs and rural areas that are mostly white and hispanic and may soonbe filled with poor people will be fertile ground for soccer.

The massive draw for strategizing parents is that soccer stars do not look roided up nor are 300 pounds nor all over six feet tall. The premium for height in the NBA eliminates millions. Kid is not going to be 300 pounds? Forget being a lineman in football. A shorter guy like Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney can be a megastar. Allen Iverson was short for the NBA, and he was still 6'0". These soccer players are gifted natural athletes but look human and are immensely skilled. It is appealing to parents and to fans. How many fans talk quietly about how X player wouldn't be on the court if he was not 7 feet tall or ran a 4.4 40? Plenty. Does that happen in soccer?

The fan piece gets a bump from normal looking players. The other big fan piece that never was a factor in decades of old is each match is ninety minutes without commercials. Modern sports have so many commercials that it is annoying and breaks up the game (baseball excluded because inning breaks). Soccer is commercial-less, which is appealing. There are no viagra advertisements to roll your eyes at nor truck ads to break up the game itself.

Trends have to hold, but the trends look good for soccer. Soccer is a darling of the SWPL set, so any growth will be trumpeted. The NHL sells more tickets to games than the NBA, but ESPN/ABC paid big money for NBA playoff broadcasting rights so you will never hear about it. Soccer may have a slow path to a perch in the basketball-hockey realm, but it's destiny is there. With the World Cup, soccer has an Olympics style plug every four years. Given a global promotional vehicle like that, the mandarins of marketing and American soccer can carve out a space in the American entertainment sphere for the game that thinks it should be called football.