Seattle's soccer transformation

The mystery of the sport's appeal no longer matters. The Sounders have made a difference in a sad sports town.
The mystery of the sport's appeal no longer matters. The Sounders have made a difference in a sad sports town.

U.S. soccer fans are no doubt experiencing paroxysms of joy at battling the English to tie. Not exactly the Battle of New Orleans, but this is a sport where nil-nil is something to go home happy about, and 1-1 is a national triumph.

In America, the saying goes that a tie is like kissing your sister. If true, soccer commits incest with great frequency. I think the Seattle Sounders set some kind of record last year for tie games. As a Mariners fan, I am starting to get it. The M's should be so lucky to get to kiss a sister now and then.

I read somewhere that game theorists say that having three options in a game makes it more interesting, so win, lose, or draw adds a kind of complexity to a sport. Soccer is either incredibly dull (see The Simpsons) or it generates tensions that can only be released in spectacular riots. Will Seattle ever be driven to embrace the latter custom? I doubt it. Compared to some soccer melees, the WTO was a picnic.

Major League Soccer has gotten big in Seattle. It's taken the loss of the Sonics and a full generation or more for that to happen, and now that it's here, I wish them well. I stick to my prejudices, suspicious of any sport that is played in shorts.

Even basketball seems kind of sketchy compared to baseball, football, and of course, the nastiest of all games, croquet, in which the winner can actually go back on the field and rampage among the losers to prevent them from having the pleasure (and dignity) of finishing. How many lifelong family feuds has backyard croquet spawned?

The impressive embrace of the Sounders could wind up being Paul Allen's greatest legacy to the urbanizing city. People laughed when he sold Qwest Field as a potential soccer venue, but look at it now. The Seahawks suck (again), EMP is a mishmash, South Lake Union has turned into a little bit o' Bellevue. Paul's rocket ship is pretty cool. But, in terms of civic benefit and boosting pub business, building a home for soccer seems to be the thing that's clicking.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.