Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soccer and the Jim Rome Factor

Whether you are a fan of Jim Rome or not, his influence on the American sports world is undeniable.  He has a daily 3-hour national sports talk radio show and a half-hour TV show on ESPN, Rome is Burning (He is reportedly leaving ESPN and taking his show with him to CBS).  His style is different than other personalities in that he references his followers as 'clones' and what they have to say as 'takes.'  He antagonizes his listeners and encourages them to compete against each other, personality vs. personality or fan vs. fan. 

His radio show is heard on more than 200 stations, including Armed Forces Radio.  He dominates the airwaves of the U.S. and Canada and is streamed to all corners of the world via the internet.  Oh, by the way, Jim Rome hates Soccer.  And he is not bashful about giving his opinions on the matter.

He often expounds on the over-dramatic players who feign injury and he says nothing ever happens in the sport, with obvious insinuations to the low-scoring so many times associated with the game.  According to Rome's doctrine, Soccer is too much about pettiness and sissiness. 

His rants often don't make a lot of sense.  Obviously, his characterization of Soccer is badly mistaken and rooted in old jockish traditions where football, basketball, baseball and hockey reign supreme.  He doesn't get Soccer.  He is completely twisted in his evaluation and 'the beautiful game' doesn't mean anything to him, while he freely admits its popularity around the world. 

What makes Rome such a fascinating figure in American sports media is his opinions carry weight and his brand is bigger than any one media company, even ESPN.  This was proven when he was hired back on to do a TV show for them after being fired years earlier for being too much of an instigator on a previous show.  Only a few people are able to be bigger than sports media companies in the U.S.  Arguably, Rome is the biggest.

Most importantly, what makes Rome fascinating, is his ability to admit an oversight on his part.  Maybe its because he has become so popular and he simply calls it as he sees it, not worrying what others may think.  Through the years (and he has been doing it for 20+ years now), he has declared errors in his thought process and mistakes in judgment.  What's so interesting about this positive characteristic in Jim Rome is, he has gone back on his opinions on different sports, said he looks at them in a different way and then talks great about them.

He openly did this about face for NASCAR, MMA (UFC) and horse racing.  His support in the past and present for NASCAR and UFC has driven business for them.  In many instances, he brings guests onto his shows to talk specifically about high points of these sports, including promoting events and matches.  Single handedly, Jim Rome has helped NASCAR and MMA rise above the U.S. consumer sports fray and has been one of the main reasons these sports have been profitable above expectations. 

Besides his unabashed, undaunted support for the big 4, football, basket, base and hockey, Rome has helped non-mainstream sports get needed attention, brought them respectability in the U.S. sports world and pushed them closer to mainstream.

How can Soccer convince Rome to come over to its side?  How does Soccer turn him from a basher to a supporter?

His negative attitude definitely hurts Soccer because he gives so many other U.S. sports fans reasons to not give the sport a chance.  To ignore him would not be the responsible thing to do on the part of MLS.  He may be able to use his influence in the future to turn those fans to supporters of Soccer.

Rome is flexible enough for a transformation on Soccer.  His track record proves this.

It starts with relationships and its all about approach.  MLS must take the proper steps to get Jim Rome involved with its game.  MLS should be aggressive and not think its beneath them to recruit someone to their side who has so much power over U.S. sports fans.  For starters, invite him to Home Depot (as he resides in L.A.), wine him and dine him, and hope for a great match.


  1. No, Rome will never come around. I agree with the points you make, but I think the fact is soccer is not particularly north american or just plain American in origin so it will always have an uphill battle.

    As a member of the Timbers' Army and a Rome fan, it will come to be as it always is, some people just get and like soccer and some will never give it a chance. Hell, I love soccer, played it all the time through high school and I still fondly remember the days of Kudos snack bars and capri suns. Who cares? Soccer is awesome, Rome is awesome, Kudos and capri suns are awesome. Can't we all just get along? Or, at least ignore people?

  2. Great article! I actually agree with you.
    It's a game of Chess, if MLS makes the right moves to get Jimmer involved; check mate.
    As much as I hate the Galaxy, it would be nice to see him attending matches. Possibly part owner of a team some day!
    All I'm saying is if Tim Tebow can win a playoff game agains the defending Super Bowl Champs, why can't Jim learn to appreciate the sport someday.
    Oh and BTW, I'm SOUNDERS TIL I DIE!!!!!

  3. Jank-Weasel in the MidfieldSeptember 9, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Jim Rome is a twerp and midget who overcompensates for his congentital punk-ass-ness with his put-on macho voice and his fake uber-jock persona. He is the ultimate brown-noser of jocks on the planet. MLS should ignore his punk ass and just keep putting together great teams, improving the product, the tournament and the USMNT and USWNT's. MLS and US Soccer will build to a point that no one pseudo-jock radio "personality" can have any impact.

    The fact is, that Rome's negativity about soccer is irrelevant. Want to really get him steamed? Advertise the championship tournament games on his affiliate stations, and include a giant "F.U. Jim Rome" in each message.

    In my experience, negativity only gains power when you pander to it. Diplomacy aside, I think MLS should either just ignore Rome, or at most, just nonchalantly give him the finger. Rome doesn't hold back soccer. The goonish Raider fans, random assorted wankers and Mom's-Basement dwelling demographic that faxes in "takes" between their internet porn and cheetohs is not going to make a sh*t's worth of difference.

    The soccer fan base is growing in America and Rome is irrelevant to it.