Friday, May 2, 2014

AMERICANIZED: Butchers Sporting CEO's Radio Comments

Robb Heineman, Sporting CEO
The easily avoidable headline over at today read: "Sporting KC CEO Robb Heineman says MLS can increase popularity by "Americanizing" broadcasts," but like a moth to a flame, I clicked.

There was nothing I could do. Images of timeouts, sponsored corner kicks, player's 40 times, and sideline cheerleaders danced through my head - like some sort of John Carpenter nightmare. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Sadly though, the takeaway MLS chose was very MLS.

Steve Brisendine, the author of the post, decided to pull out part of a conversation towards the end of a 25 minute radio interview with CEO of Sporting KC Robb Heineman where they talked about Sporting's TV broadcast.

Heineman, for those that might not be too familiar with, is part of a group that completely flipped the Kansas City franchise into a regionally popular team with a new stadium and that just last year won a MLS Cup.

I've never really known Heineman to be an idiot so seeing these comments splashed across a headline sort of surprised me. I've been close to the league for a few years now and his player acquisitions have been very good. The way he treats them is good. His ideas on the sport have always been... reasonable.

Surely he doesn't think that "Americanizing" the broadcast is a viable solution to increasing TV ratings.

Turns out his comments about "Americanizing" MLS broadcasts were taken during a part of the interview were he was actually telling the radio announcers, who were calling for 2 minute breaks each half for advertisers, that Sporting KC has goals of there own - and not just those of MLS (ironic, ain't it).

Heineman handles himself pretty well, considering. After going over a ring ceremony planned for before the this weekends match up against the Columbus Crew, he goes into some frustrations with dropped points that organically turns into some pretty heavy criticisms of the refs (going as far as calling out one for costing him the 2013 Supporters' Shield).

They spend a good deal of time on the officiating problem in MLS right now. This is sort of where the radio interviewer starts bringing up the NFL and falling back to his comfort zone. Cards and penalties mean goals, goals is was US Americans want right? Heineman stays patient with them.

It's only at this point, when they start talking about adding sponsors and commercial breaks, that Heineman talks about adding tight shots to try and enhance the television product. He never goes into zooming in on the action all the time or anything.

For MLS to frame a piece the way they did should piss Robb Heinemann off. I understand the folks that write for MLSsoccer have to make a story but the owners of different teams across the league want to make money and most seem to know what makes it and it doesn't include a staff writer who doesn't know any better.

This sort of leads me to one of my biggest criticisms of the league in that you cannot expect corporate offices to drive the overall good of the league. Guys like Robb Heineman (and, hopefully, Columbus Crew's Anthony Precourt) are not cut from the same cloth Don Garber is. The league has to turn these guys loose if they want to move forward and get better.


Here is the full interview if you want to listen. The sucker is nearly 25 minutes long and hard to recommend, but if you just want some of the good stuff go to around the 11th minute to hear about Heineman being frustrated with the way PRO is handling games (contrary to Don Garber's comments on grabbing in the box).

To get to the CRAZY from the radio team at 810 WHB just click to around 18:30 in the interview. It in there somewhere where Heineman says some of the things they are suggesting are "too far off the reservation."

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