Nobody likes commentary on unsubstantiated rumors more than me so when I heard that the MLS may change the league schedule to more resemble the international calendar I immediately knew what I would be writing about this week on the Burgundy Wave. Somebody leaked a report that the MLS will change its match-day schedule to more closely resemble the the European league as early as next year. While this report was quickly denied by the MLS. It set off a debate on every soccer website inside the lower 48. I can't believe I'm about to use this phrase but American soccer traditionalists don't want this for it seems to me a few simple reasons. I'll outline those and give you a few things to think about in favor of this change.
Let's start with the American soccer traditionalist statement. The MLS is 17. Enough time for early adopters to have children and grow up and have their own kids no doubt based on bad decisions by teenagers. Do we want these people deciding the when the matches are played? In the response from the MLS today it noted that the schedule change rumor was started when the MLS sent out a questionnaire to fans that inquired about moving the MLS season to a winter spring format instead of a spring summer fall format. I can think of two reasons why people are against this. One because they think the weather will be bad. They use the argument that the blizzard game on MARCH 22nd for their case. Last time I looked March 22nd was well within the current season of the MLS. The months with the most snow in Colorado are already in the MLS schedule. (March and April) The MLS Cup will be played in the first week of December this year. So the final two teams will have started their training camps in late January and finished in early December. Sounds like the same calendar that the league is proposing. Germany and the Netherlands have a large break during the harshest part of the winter and how do their teams do during international tournaments? Guess what their national teams do during the break? They get more time to work on the national soccer philosophy and get time to gel with their countryman.
Secondly, as i've discussed before about tv contracts being how the leagues are ranked in the world the MLS has to figure out how to make more off of theirs. The reason that scripted television shows go off the air in the summer is because nobody watches during the summer. More viewers equals more ratings equals more money for a change to a August-June format. If they got the Barclay's Premier League to move back matches to night start times which equals 1pm mountain time then start a MLS at 3pm the lead in audience would help push television ratings automatically. More ratings equals higher TV contract. I think the leak of the schedule change is to gauge public reaction and help formulate a plan for when it does happen. Like the MLS report said it's not going to happen next year. It will not happen next year due to the advertising rates and TV rights already sold. But the contract is up after that and MLS participating in sweeps in 2015 for higher ad rates will probably what makes this idea go through. I don't think it's as much a change the schedule to a Euro thing as it is a how can we make more money to compete with other sports properties thing. For MLS to up it's slice of the pie, it will have to change calendars. Sports is about making money and this is the obvious move.
The worst part about the change is that Colorado will lose the July 4th game. A sports date that has many memories for me and a lot of Colorado sports fans. Marcelo Balboas golden goal being my most fond memory. But like a large part of the world we should be able to focus on the international tournaments instead of who our team is losing for a few weeks and up to a month. It's hard losing the July 4th game but now it frees me up to make new traditions and memories and maybe follow the USA during the Gold Cup or even the World Cup.