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Pardon the Interruption.....

From colleague Michael Wilbon's weekly online chat at washingtonpost.com.....

Fairfax, Va.: Mr. Wilbon which sport do you wish you had more time to follow or if you could get into a sport, which one you would like to become a fan of?

Michael Wilbon: Hmmmm...Good question. Well, I've covered them all, pretty much. I guess the answer would be international soccer. Yep, that's the sport. International soccer...It's fascinating and I would love the travel, love the personalities, and it matters more than anything in the world...except here.


By Steve Goff  |  May 19, 2008; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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Comments

He wouldn't like it. The fans throw streamers.

Horrors!

Posted by: Ron | May 19, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon, with a wet finger in the air, adroitly sees another parade to get in front of.

Ah, well, permission to come aboard then...

Posted by: JkR | May 19, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

American football almost killed him.
The streamers would surely be the end of him.
Can heart meds bring on dementia?

Posted by: Dadryan | May 19, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon held down the Post's soccer beat circa 1980, when the Diplomats occupied RFK. I thought he did a perfectly good job of it. Are there others who were living in this area at the time who had problems with him? I see no reason why he couldn't have grown in that role, if his career hadn't taken a different course.

Posted by: tri-village | May 19, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Reading about how no sport has the drama of an NBA game seven made me think that Wilbon has never seen a relegation battle...

Posted by: ChrisK018 | May 19, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

My scarf was the first DC United item on PTI.

Wilbon is welcome on the band wagon as long as he doesn't mind streamers.

Streamers are better than the batteries and bags of urine that have been used in other venues featuring US players.

Besides, I've long thought Wilbon has a soft spot for soccer.

Goff - are you and Wilbon heading to Moscow Wednesday? Just kidding.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | May 19, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

If he's not tied up with the NBA, I think he'll end up going to South Africa in two summers (has stated that he'd like to). I'll look forward to his columns.

Posted by: Kev | May 19, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilbon has never seen a relegation battle...
=========================================

That's Wilbon's downside. He overestimates his own understanding of the game, based on a limited, long-ago involvement with the game in the NASL context. Things have evolved a lot since then, so he'd be facing a learning curve.

Posted by: tri-village | May 19, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The think-skinned nature of the US soccer fan shows again. Just because Wilbon hates the streamers doesn't mean he hates soccer and doesn't mean he hates you because you like soccer.

I have had DCU season tickets off and on for eight years, love the sport to death and HATE the streamers. There is not just one way to be a soccer fan and the quicker some people figure that out, the better off this sport will be in the long run.

Until then, feel free to criticize people for daring to have their own opinion on some issues and not kowtowing to some "hardcore fan" mentality.

Posted by: Brian | May 19, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I have a good spot for him to go - Boca vs River Plate. He wouldn't see streamers thru the fires.

Posted by: bubbles | May 19, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

If Wilbon wants to get into international soccer, he could start by watching Wednesday's Champions League Final with Man U and Chelsea.

Posted by: Blackaces | May 19, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

I love Wilbon! Wooo!

Posted by: strago | May 19, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

For a few years now Wilbon has occasionally expressed his wish to see a World Cup in person on his chat. I hope the Post or ESPN sends him to South Africa in 2010 (to accompany Steve, of course). Can you imagine the publicity of having the World Cup on PTI for one month? Wilbon may not like streamers on the field. So what? Let him broadcast from outside the stadium, in front of the Tartan Army and the Samba Girls.

We complain about the close-mindedness of mainstream sports reporters and then repeat that same attitude on the soccer blog. Nice going.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 19, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

the guy's a two bit loser. Stay away from the beautiful game loser!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I'd imagine it would be difficult to step into covering international soccer without having been spending a long amount of time watching it on a regular basis.

I remember watching the England v Portugal Rooney v Ronaldo spat and the american announcer said nothing about Rooney and Ronaldo being teammates. That particular announcer might not even have understood the club/NT dual existence.

Regardless, it would be nice to hear him expound on the merits of the top three leagues from time to time.
He is one smart cookie.

Posted by: bribri | May 19, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I still think there's a difference between International Soccer and MLS or even EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc. Events like the World Cup and to a lesser extent the European Championship, are like nothing else in the world.

No relegation battle could hold a dime to one of the group phase match-up in a World Cup. The excitement and energy at those games are second to none.

I was actually thinking about the World Cup on Saturday while watching all of the soccer that was on TV. While it was great to have a day full of soccer, it would have been even better to have a day full of World Cup soccer.

Posted by: TCompton | May 19, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Make up your mind already do you hate soccer or love it.....

Posted by: boris | May 19, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The think-skinned nature of the US soccer fan shows again...

Until then, feel free to criticize people for daring to have their own opinion on some issues and not kowtowing to some "hardcore fan" mentality.

Posted by: Brian | May 19, 2008 4:45 PM

-------------------------------------------
Bri,

Please, Bro. Criticism of a different viewpoints is a human tradition.

That's why there are sports bars, sports blogs and sports radio.

Otherwise some of us would be studying or actually working all day instead of pontificating.

I get your point. I just ask that you don't take all of this "streamers-no streamers-Wilbon is a clown stuff" too seriously.

[Although I would like to take this moment to restate my personal position that streamers are corny and that Wilbon is in fact clown like in his statements as they relate to soccer--but that's ok--I'm guilty of being corny and a clown, so my opinion is not worth very much...]

It's all just opinion...Sound and fury signifying nothing (outside of showing the Washington Post that Steve Goff is in fact THE MAN when it comes to have some seriously "hardcore" bloggers...

Goff is the MAN.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 19, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, give him a Rangers jersey and have him sit in the Celtic section in their next matchup. I think he'd get picture fairly quickly.

I've always thought he was a soccer guy, even if his opinions are somewhat silly sometimes.

Posted by: Hacksaw | May 19, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Jus' sayin' he had a heart attack at the Superbowl that's all.
I'd be worried about him living through the World Cup.
Maybe he could bring Kornheiser with him.

Posted by: Dadryan | May 19, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Boris,

Can't you tell from my response? I love international soccer but hate it in America. Only football/basketball/baseball/hockey/boxing/poker should be played in the U.S!

Posted by: Wilbon | May 19, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I would like to offer my services to Mr. Wilbon as a liason to the world of international soccer. I have attended almost every World Cup since the '86 affair in Mexico. I could travel with him, and offer suggestions for his coverage, as well as background on past Cups. I seek no compensation -- just airfare, hotels and travel expenses. and of course, tickets at accompany Mr. Wilbon at games.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 19, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

He's exactly right about the streamers. Fans shouldn't throw anything on the field. Period.

(Squid thrown on ice is different, BTW.)

Posted by: Terp | May 19, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

ESPN is showing the Euro 2008 tourney next month. Apparently ESPN talking heads have been ordered to start talking up international soccer. On June 30 they'll all forget it ever existed, and they'll be talking about some outrageous thing Terrell Owens said.

Look at Bill Simmons. That's what happens when you don't follow mothership ESPN's orders.

Posted by: Rich C | May 19, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Nothing beats Int'l Soccer, IMO.

Wish I had more time to follow it more (job, quasi-life, etc. keep getting in the way).

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 19, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of international soccer -- how good is the Spanish team, if they can leave off Raul and Krkic (yeah, he's 17, but does anyone doubt he'd be the best player on the USMNT?)??

Posted by: Fisch Fry | May 19, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a classic make-up call. He's pissed off more people than he's placated with his anti-streamer stance so now he wants to become the "Goff" of international soccer...not bloody likely!! I don't buy it.

Posted by: Beaker | May 19, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Spain is definitely good enough to get to the quarterfinals of Euro 2008 and go out on penalties.

Posted by: d, dc | May 19, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

-----
ESPN is showing the Euro 2008 tourney next month. Apparently ESPN talking heads have been ordered to start talking up international soccer. On June 30 they'll all forget it ever existed, and they'll be talking about some outrageous thing Terrell Owens said.

Look at Bill Simmons. That's what happens when you don't follow mothership ESPN's orders.
-----

That's what I'm thinking, (although this was a washpost chat, but Wilbon does have multiple employees).

If he get's behind (or at least someone interested in) the US's run to the 2010 WC, that would be a nice thing.

The clearly is (one would think) a learning curve for Wilbon.

What does he mean by "international soccer"? Foreign club soccer? Will he care about the UEFA CL? I certainly would enjoy hearing Wilbon talk about the differences between something like SuperLiga and the Concacaf Champions Cup. Or the relative importance of the MLS regular season versus the US Open Cup competition. Will he be able to comment on the Olympics yet understand the true importance of the US's World Cup qualifier going on at the same time.

It's a big top, Mr. WIlbon. And obviously more and more poeple (in your domestic market) are getting more and more interested in soccer, and not just the "international" kind.

It's a world sport. I'm interested to hear more comments from Mr. Wilbon in the future. Would he consider a Toronto FC home game, and "international soccer" match? I"m sure he'd have some fun going up there and witnessing those crowds first hand.

I'm guessing he'll poke his head into the commentaing booth on ABC when the Galaxy visit RFK on 6/29 (as he did last year when the Galaxy&Beckham circus came to DC and ESPN2 was there with coverage.

If only Mr. Wilbon had more time.

Posted by: Learning Curve | May 19, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Spain has the best combinatin of players that I enjoy watching. They are a very candidate but remain to be seen in producing on the big matches.

Posted by: sky | May 19, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

This Is the Internet -- where people come to hate on others, especially more famous people. Why even bother asking for a reaction in an open forum? Just have a form where people can fill in their hate-filled rants....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Gallardo's goal against the goats is nominated as it deserves if not goal of the year. Vote
http://web.mlsnet.com/sights/goal_of_the_week/

Posted by: FC Arlington | May 19, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Wilbon, an admitted hoops junkie, and soccer, cool NYT story about soccer's influence on basketball:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/sports/basketball/18lakers.html?em&ex=1211342400&en=7d813589d21b3479&ei=5087%0A

Posted by: Juan-John | May 19, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

There's hardly a hint of criticism in the posts above yours. Why is it some segments of the US soccer fans base must continually rant about "thin skinned soccer fans" or "whiny soccer fans", as if they are really any different than any other sports fans.

Take a bit of your own advice and become a bit more thick-skinned about criticism directed at the media. Especially when you're imagining such criticism.

Posted by: Whiny Soccer Fan | May 19, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link Juan-John. The last two paragraphs only hint at one of the past problems with USA basketball (post-Barcelona Olympics). All the European players grew up with soccer. They know that representing your country is the highest honor in sports. The American players, did not grow up with that sense of athletic nationalism. I believe that this is one of the reasons that many stars have been reluctant to play for the US basketball team.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind the streamers before a game or if you score. A lot of you bring up Boca-River but show me when the streamers are thrown directly at a players? Or during coner kicks?

It's all fun and games until it's the playoffs (I hope) and were losing at the end of the game and trying to take a corner but we cant, if there fans are smart they will throw streamers for as long as they possibly can to waste time. Only then will we all be pissed.

Posted by: Sysco76 | May 19, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Streamers is only good when throw them in the air at the beginning and when our team scores. I absulately agree with Sysco76. I am in no way to side the streamers throwing on the feild and or to the players. It makes everything messy and looks really really stupid. Just bring colorful flags and wave. Although people will complain about this too because it blocks the view.

Posted by: FC Arlington | May 19, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

ESPN is showing the Euro 2008 tourney next month.

Posted by: Rich C | May 19, 2008 5:26 PM
-------------------------------------------

BTW, it's also going to be streamed on ESPN.360 as well! Depending on who your ISP is, that means you might get it for free! My ISP is RCN, and I know I get ESPN.360 gratis!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Look folks, Wilbon is more thoughtful, articulate, and self-aware than 99% of sportswriters/talkers out there. Do I love all his opinions all the time? No way. The problem with PTI is that it's designed as pure provocation and hype -- that's the whole point of it, and I wish he weren't involved (Kornheiser, OTOH is perfect for PTI). If Wilbon takes an interest in any kind of soccer, it can only benefit the game's development in the US.

Posted by: edgeonyou | May 19, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Look folks, Wilbon is more thoughtful, articulate, and self-aware than 99% of sportswriters/talkers out there. Do I love all his opinions all the time? No way. The problem with PTI is that it's designed as pure provocation and hype -- that's the whole point of it, and I wish he weren't involved (Kornheiser, OTOH is perfect for PTI). If Wilbon takes an interest in any kind of soccer, it can only benefit the game's development in the US.
-------------------------------------------

Agreed. In fact, if you watch PTI and a topic on soccer comes up, Wilbon is more embracing and always defends soccer as opposed to that idiot that does the show with him. Of course, he may not know a whole lot, but at least he brings some knowledge.

I remember back in 2006 he said he thought about traveling to Germany to root for the US in the World Cup had they made it far enough for him to see them, but the racism in Europe (let alone Germany) kinda scared him off.

Posted by: Ivan | May 20, 2008 2:30 AM | Report abuse

I like how he says "international soccer," so we know he isn't talking about MLS.

Posted by: Joe S. | May 20, 2008 3:43 AM | Report abuse

@Posted by: ChrisK018 | May 19, 2008 4:35 PM

sorry, I've been watching and following the game for over 20 years, including many of my formative years in Germany, and have no interest in relegation battles either.
How does anyone get excited to see who the least biggest loser is going to be? How is that remotely enticing? It's always horrible teams with cut rate players anyway. When a big team goes down that is interesting but how often does that really happen?
Unless you are a fan of one of the teams facing relegation there is precious little for the neutral observer to really give a crap about IMO unless you are forcing yourself to believe it's great stuff.

Posted by: papa bear | May 20, 2008 5:49 AM | Report abuse

Ecchh - who needs a banal, self-important jock sniffer like Wilbon pretending to lead the bandwagon. Go back to the golf course - futballers don't need or want you.

Posted by: Hmmm | May 20, 2008 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Speak for yourself papabear. It's fine that you yourself aren't interested in relegation, but don't pretend to be the spokesman for the neutral fan.

Posted by: JDO | May 20, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

He wouldn't DARE lower himself to cover or watch MLS. I knew it: Wilbon is a EUROSNOB!

Posted by: Hoost | May 20, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeah papabear. You got some issues? Each team who faces relagation have more then 30k -50k fans attending the games not to mention who watches in their homes. You have no idea what you are talking about!

Posted by: Mama Wolf | May 20, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Hoost..that's ok. He will eventually get into it. It took me a while too. I am still a internationalsnob though.

Posted by: Yoost | May 20, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Goff,

What do you know about the Toulon Tournament and any of the players that are there? Should there be anything we are watching for on the US side and on some of the other teams that are participating?

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | May 20, 2008 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember Wilbon's column after our tie with (sorry to bring this up) Jamaica at RFK? He wrote about the atmosphere at the match more that the play. He was absolutely intoxicated with the fact that Jamaicans came from all over the Western Hemisphere to support their team. This is why he's interested in international soccer. He knows that this fervor exists only for the World Cup. And it you've listened to DeFord - I mean really listen with an open mind - you'll know that he enjoys the World Cup atmosphere too.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 20, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

In regards to what I said about relegation battles, most of the time I'm not all that into the particular teams, but even as a neutral it's easy to see the hope and pain of the supporters faces. Getting live scoring updates from other relevant matches is amazing. Watching teams play with their futures on the line is incredible, especially when it's compared to USA pro leagues where the even worst teams' players get to go back to their nice cribs for the summer.

I think Wilbon does an ok job in standing up for soccer against the myopic TK. Wilbon also recognizes that there is a lot out there he does not know, especially in regards to soccer.

Ps. I also hope Spain does well this Summer.

Posted by: ChrisK018 | May 20, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy the Coca-Cola Championship playoffs a lot more than the anticlimactic end of the top league seasons.

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 20, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

A couple of years back I heard ex-Redskin and now sports radio guy Doc Walker say that he would love to attend a World Cup match, particularly the final. This was in answer to the question "what sporting event would you most like to attend?" His answer completely flummoxed his radio teammates, who were (and are) knee-jerk soccer haters.

Posted by: Hedbal | May 20, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy the Coca-Cola Championship playoffs a lot more than the anticlimactic end of the top league seasons.

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 20, 2008 10:29 AM
===============

Playoffs?! That's so American of you.
:-)

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 20, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

How exciting is it to watch Lyon win yet another title in a row, or Bayern winning the Bundesliga every other year?

Give me .... playoffs.

Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 20, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

How exciting is it to watch Lyon win yet another title in a row, or Bayern winning the Bundesliga every other year?
Give me .... playoffs.
Posted by: spike_2.0 | May 20, 2008 4:59 PM
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
But you will love it if your team always wins, right?

Posted by: you will see | May 20, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

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