Welcome to the 4th of July edition of WWW. Normally I’ve got Fridays and this is a Friday, but we all had our Friday yesterday, so it feels weird. Anyway, don’t wait too hard today. There won’t be tons in the way of content… you know… except for this.
I’m a pretty big MMA fan, but I’ve been fascinated by a recent string of articles at Deadspin regarding the UFC. The first article relates to just how over-saturated the UFC schedule feels lately. I thought maybe it was just me and my ever-tightening wallet that I hadn’t ordered a UFC PPV in a little bit, but it wasn’t just my perception. The UFC has grown the number of events to the point that I can’t really keep up anymore. I used to think I was knowledgable, but I don’t feel as if I know the majority of major fighters anymore. Deadspin points out this key statistic.
Including these two, the UFC has 24 events scheduled for the rest of this year, five more than they ran in all of 2009. The ever-increasing number of cards—and, more than that, the consequent decline in their quality as good preliminary bouts become iffy undercard bouts and passable undercard bouts become lousy main events—has been a problem for long enough that a lot of serious fans are just dead tired of hearing about it. (In 2011, when the promotion ran a mere 27 shows, I asked White if he wasn’t running too many; he said the only problem was that they weren’t running more, and apparently he meant it.)
And then this great write-up on the development of the Chael Sonnen fiasco where a couple of failed drug tests led to a retirement and then a firing from his UFC TV commentating gig.
None of this is to be some snarky ad hominem attack on the UFC because I’m still a big fan. I’m a homer for Stipe Miocic and Jessica Eye here in Cleveland. I still find myself watching it regularly and ordering pay-per-views three to five times per year. Yes that’s down from where I used to be, but that’s not to say I couldn’t be back to that sometime in the future.
My point is just that sometimes it’s true that less is more and more can be less. I’m sure the overall number of eyeballs on MMA is greater right now and that’s likely the short-term goal of Dana White, the UFC and Fox. At some point though, you have to wonder about value at each event and making sure to find that balance between having enough events and enough quality at each event.
United States soccer hero Tim Howard tells Dan Patrick that he was drug tested right after the game. He had to go into a “doping control room.”
If you thought this year’s World Cup performance by the USMNT was good, just you wait… An article at the BBC uses some analysis to predict that the best is yet to come after this year’s World Cup. Why? There are three main factors and this World Cup helped conquer the third and final factor that the U.S. was missing. Namely, audience.
There are three factors necessary for football success, according to ‘Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Spain, Germany, and Brazil Win, and Why the US, Japan, Australia – and Even Iraq – Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport’.
Those factors are a big population, a strong economy, and a fervent fan base. For years, the US has had two out of three – a big population from which to draw top talent and the money to support a training infrastructure and elite football community. But with little interest from most Americans, talented athletes and top dollars went elsewhere.
Now, I think it might be overstating things a bit. There are obviously other dynamics at play that will hold the United States back. Yes, they have a giant population, but some of the truly greatest athletes in this population will continue to play basketball, football and baseball as opposed to soccer. Yes, the audience is improved, but this is still a country that gets pulled in many different directions. I’m hopeful, of course, but I don’t take it for granted that this particular World Cup had a lot of factors that might have artificially boosted ratings and popularity. We’ll see.
Last but not least, have a fine weekend of cookouts and fireworks. I’ll be leaving the fireworking to the professionals, of course. But I’m going to leave you with a song that just seemed to fit the theme of the relaxing weekend. I thought about playing music on the patio in hot weather, and this is what came to mind. And really, how can you do better than a group that was so good they just called themselves, “The Band?”