A firm fixture of the Stateside calendar now, ‘Soccer’ has been certified as the fifth most popular sport in the States, after American football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. But the discipline, which has striven for half a century to break into the market, continues to grow. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 7% of Americans cited soccer as their favourite sport to watch, while 9% preferred America’s traditional pastime baseball. Major League Soccer ( MLS ), the top domestic football league in the country, has experienced a 27% rise in interest since 2012, according to Nielsen Sports Sponsorlink, and the division’s average attendance of 21,358 from 2013-18 ranks only slightly behind the far more established big leagues in the world, such as Ligue 1 in France (21,556) and Italy’s Serie A (22,967), according to a study conducted by the CIES Football Observatory. The interest is there and the interest is real.
And that’s where Men In Blazers come in. Listeners are spoiled for choice with the collection of sizzling soccer sound casts, but this one deserves your attention. Hosts Roger Bennett (@rogbennett) and Michael Davies (@embassydavies) believe soccer is America's Sport of the Future. As in fact, ‘it has been since 1972’. With unprecedented success leading to their very own TV show (on NBCSN), the podcast sees Rog and Davo cast their eyes over the frenetic football action across the pond and in their home nation, week by week. Following the return of the English Premier League the compatriots have recently taken a look at where Christian Pulisic fits into Frank Lampard’s plans, Everton’s rise and rise, and James Rodriguez’s impact (Liverpool-born Bennett is a fervent Toffee). Of course, there’s been the usual Top Four and Relegation predictions that occurred ahead of the season’s baptism and once it duly returns, the Champions League will receive due attention.
The podcast began on the Grantland network in the early 2010s and has now become the most popular football audio show in the US, helped by a great bunch of regular guests including Billy Beane of Oakland As/ Barnsley/ Moneyball fame, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver, and bands like The National (band), Vampire Weekend, and Mumford and Sons. Furthermore, with Bennett interviewing a celebrity in the final third of each episode, guests have also included Will Ferrell, Laura Linney, DeAndre Hopkins, Killer Mike, Rory McIlroy, Diplo, and Alex Morgan.
The jovial British brothers-in-arms, united in football, have accomplished the best TransAtlantic crossing since Charles Lindbergh. There may be a plethora of pods based around the subject to choose from, but with this show’s popularity continuing to soar and gain those numbers, just think, when has the American public ever been wrong?