Berger’s Take on Sports Illustrated Soccer Hater Feature

Ben Berger, Connecticut Sports Law’s resident soccer expert, shares his thoughts on Chris Mannix’s Sports Illustrated Feature entitled “Are You Like Me?  (I bet you are.)  I Bet You Hate Soccer”.

Sports Illustrated recently sent Chris Mannix, a self described “soccer hater” on a whirlwind tour of soccer.  During his trip, Mannix saw three MLS games in person, two International Friendlies in person, and a Euro 2008 match in a soccer bar.  After his mini soccer marathon, Mannix found himself enjoying the fans, detesting the sport on TV and surprised by the speed, power and violence of the game.  His ultimate conclusion?

After five days and six matches I can now say that I enjoy soccer at its best — though I continue to despise it at its worst.  And the biggest problem is that you’re as likely to see a mess as a masterpiece.

I fully enjoyed his article, and thought his analysis was neither biased nor unfair.  To some extent, his sentiments initially rang true with me.  As much as I love the sport, I certainly have been witness to some clunkers.  After further reflection , it occurred to me that the same can pretty much be said for any sport.  The 2008 NBA Finals have been great.  Does anyone remember the Heat/Knicks series of the 90s? It was brutal for the casual fan.  Ever try to watch a Reds/Pirates twin bill? 

Ultimately, it was a great assignment for Mannix and a fair take on soccer.  I have long held that watching a high level game in person is essntial for anyone taking in soccer for the first time.  Until your interest is piqued, taking in games on television is not always riveting theater.  I leave you with a link to, a leading online soccer forum where Mannix’s article is being dissected.  

Attorney Ben Berger, an avid fan of soccer and MLS, is an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, in Hartford, Connecticut.  Ben can be reached at or 860-548-2636.


  1. Forza Azzuri says:

    Overall an excellent article that probably truly represents the non-fans take before and after taking a trip such as this. He also captured what every true soccer fan knows about the game. It has its ups, and downs, and is 1000 times more fun to watch in person. But every sport is better to watch in person, but getting the “soccer-hater” to go to a game is usually next to impossible.

    He experienced the Brava on a night where the game was postponed and in a stadium that squashes all the sound. Imagine his take if he had been in a soccer specific stadium (SSS) or been up in Toronto with some other rabid fans.

    The biggest falacy that he broke is that scoring is needed to enjoy a game. The US vs Argentina game was a classic game that showed the physicality of the game and the artistic side as well, with the likes of Messi (unfortunately he only played a single half). A game that ultimately so zero goals.

    Admitting that he has become more of a fan is something that takes guts, because he is undoubtedly going to be ridiculed by some of his peers. Welcome to the club.

    With the creation of more SSS soccer will continue to grow. What it needs to do is bring in more of the people that are already fans instead of trying to attract people who aren’t fans. Not everyone is going to have the change of heart that Mannix did because they can’t experience it they way he did.

  2. just kiddind love ya

  3. Great Post…

  4. Chris Mannix who called himself a soccer hater. He really enjoy the trip.

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