There is a reason why Dan Shaughnessy resides in a place in the Internet sports landscape alongside the likes of Chris Berman and Rick Reilly for anyone under the age of, let’s say, 40. They are some of the easiest, lowest-hanging fruits to target and shred in line-by-line takedown style. There is nothing fresh or inspired about someone on the Internet going after Shaughnessy — he’s an easy, accepted target.
Normally I’d leave the veteran Boston Globe writer alone and say he’s entitled to his opinion via “to each their own” … but good lord, what inspires someone to tweet those three sentences embedded above in the wake of a professional sports team’s heartbreaking loss in overtime? This is a man who’s been paid to write and opine on sports for decades. Meanwhile, the first thought coursing through his fingers after the New England Revolution lost to the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 in overtime of the MLS Cup final — Landon Donovan’s final game — is that thank heavens MLS soccer won’t be “relevant” in the greater Boston area now. (The usage of a Lebowski “editorial we,’ as if Shaughnessy speaks for all of Boston, is rich.)
What exactly Shaughnessy feared in the wake of a Revs win is beyond my comprehension. I tend to doubt the Revs winning a championship would cause Bostonians to bulldoze Fenway Park or graffiti the Bobby Orr statue or renounce Larry Bird. Is he fearful he’d have to maybe once every three years cover a sport that he proudly and publicly disdains?
The Revs have been around since 1996 when MLS was founded. They’ve now lost in five championship game appearances. Winning an MLS championship would, maybe, add a few more fans and prompt a duck boat parade of sorts. Perhaps it would get more people in Boston talking about building a soccer-specific in the area and move the team away from cavernous Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Oh right, speaking of Foxborough I attended the 2002 MLS Cup featuring the Revs vs. Galaxy with my father. We were among the 61,000+ at the game, however “relevant” that makes the sport of soccer in Boston.
Debating the issue about soccer in America on the Internet is by this point a no-win situation, Shaughnessy or not. Opinions on either side have been formed. The tenor of the debate between soccer-lovers and soccer-haters doesn’t end up leaving much room for intelligent discourse between either “soccer is the best sport on the planet” and “Soccer sucks, LOL.” As Deadspin smartly wrote in June, Shaughnessy’s been writing the same anti-soccer column since at least 1990. No amount of arguing one way or another is going to change his hardened opinion and it’s fairly certain on Sunday he was executing troll playbook 101 with his tweet.
New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke still took the Shaughnessy bait and ripped into the columnist with his own series of tweets, which make good points although they do acknowledge Shaughnessy’s existence, unfortunately.
Petke’s retort is fun and makes for good blog headlines, no doubt, but the best course of action here is to ignore commentary for an columnist stuck in a 1987 world view about sports. Lisa Simpson’s and Paul Anka’s “Just Don’t Look” song from an old Halloween episode of The Simpsons often feels quite applicable under the premise if you don’t pay attention eventually (hopefully) they’ll go away. (Yeah, I am fully aware I’m going against my own advice — don’t think too hard or you’ll start a blog-Inception or something. Cut me some slack, if possible, I didn’t make the rules.)
The same advice can apply to Shaughnessy in this case, too. If he has such little interest in soccer, why even bother to tweet or write about it? Oh right … to get an easy, cheap reaction.
In the case of soccer, the game is readily available for Americans to consume thanks to the Internet and cable/satellite packages. If you watch some games and decide you like it, awesome. If not, that’s cool, too — it’s your life and your opinion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but sports are still supposed to be fun, not an obligation.
Of course, on a more macro level, with so many damn sports on television and the Internet all the time it’s hard to sometimes not to have a little Shaughnessy in you, especially on Twitter when “everyone” is cracking wise about the same thing and you’re left out. In this case, as I can personally attest, it’s often easier to “hate” on something you otherwise have no interest on than ignoring it. When it comes to sports in 2014, it’s okay — I think — if you don’t follow every single game/event/championship/showdown or whatever — there are only so many hours in the day.