The MLS preseason media tour of New York continued today as Landon Donovan went out with Michael Bradley to go MSNBC's morning show Morning Joe. Joe, who along with his son is a soccer fan, was sick so Donovan and Bradley got more of the "what's that weird soccer thing" treatment. The video is embedded above.
Morning Joe can be one of those shows where the guests are more invited to watch the hosts entertain them than they are to actually speak. The famous interview with Russell Brand where he refused to allow them any sort of ground leaving them in fits of nervous laughter made went viral. Here it's 1:45 into the video before the hosts say great to have you and start with questions.
Here we get almost two minutes of gushing over Landon Donovan's infamous goal in the 2010 World Cup. From a hostess who didn't know if you call it a goal when the ball goes into the net.
Can we talk about Donovan's goal for a second? Especially now during the Olympics where we've got nightly attempts to celebrate Americans being exceptional, there's inevitable comparison between events. Was the US goal in the shootout over Russia better than the Landon Donovan goal? Reaction videos have to be compared. Why do we care?
The Miracle on Ice, Go Go USA, and now the Overtime shootout goal, none of these things even decided championships. We're comparing reactions to goals that happened in group stages as to which one was the biggest American moment. All to do with nationalism and little to do with sport.
See I don't watch Morning Joe often, so I re-watched the Russell Brand interview to get context. Mika Brzezkinski has to ask Donovan if goal is the proper term, but she spends more time on how cute he was and that Donovan is old now in soccer years.
It reminded me of the Brand interview, and I almost wanted Donovan to look into the camera and say "Hello. We're players in Major League Soccer. I play in LA, this is Michael Bradley he plays in Toronto. It's going to be our biggest season yet and it kicks off in March so we'd like you to come out to a game and watch us on TV." Just hijack the interview.
Instead we get Brzezinski asking Donovan how big could MLS get. Apparently the regular host Joe is a huge soccer fan (the video begins with him just gushing over getting to interview Donovan in 2010), but Brzezinski has already given up the ground that she only knows the sport as a vehicle to American Exceptionalism, and views MLS as a curiosity.
When Donovan says Bradley coming back to MLS is huge, that a player choosing soccer in MLS when their is still European interest is a big deal, she has no context for that. When the inevitable next question of why soccer hasn't taken over America like it has overseas, like European football is some new phenomenon like the Beatles, again please hijack the interview.
This is our third stop on the media tour interviews, and there are two very clear categories emerging. Hosts who love soccer and are excited to finally get to talk about it, and hosts who see this on the level of a fun squirrel video and are confused as to what they should ask these people.
In all three interviews, the associated media corporations have soccer contracts. Just like when an NBC sitcom star ends up Ellen, there's no reason for the alien treatment. "Hey did you know NBC Sports broadcasts MLS matches?" should have been question one.