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October 18, 2011 / benwolfson08

Why LeBron James is good for soccer

LeBron in the Director's Box at Anfield Stadium on Oct. 15 taken from James' Twitter.

When one thinks of LeBron James they probably think of a the Decision, LeBron’s ill-fated press conference that announced to the entire world that he would be signing with the Miami Heat.

While LeBron James remains one of the most popular athletes in the world today and one of the most disliked, this column is discussing how great LeBron is potentially for the world of soccer.

LeBron became a minority owner of Liverpool FC back in April, 2011.

This was a great move for both clubs. Liverpool was purchased last January by John Henry, who also owns the Red Sox. Liverpool is one of the most popular clubs in the world and by branding itself with LeBron will only gain exposure for the soccer world.

The reason I fell in love with soccer this summer while studying in London, was because of the incredible passion and tradition all fans have with their clubs. This sounds corny but one of my favorite movies is Green Street Hooligans. Besides being a badass movie starring Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam it showed me a world of sports fans that were loyal to their teams until they died.

There were no bandwagon fans, these people lived with their teams through thick and thin and it became a part of their way of life.

I traveled to four stadiums this summer — Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane and Anfield Stadium.

Liverpool is a five hour bus trip from London and doing this while hungover with a bunch of toddlers screaming on the bus made it seem about three times as long.

My roommate Nick and our friend who was also studying with us, Laurie, went to Liverpool. The sole reason we went was historic Anfield Stadium.

Nick is a die-hard Red (Liverpool fan) and just being able to experience the tour with him was unbelievable.

Anfield is unique in the fact its been around since 1892 and holds 45, 276. While clubs such as Arsenal have snazzy new digs and state of the art stadiums, Anfield is pretty much the same place it has been for over 100 years.

Just being in the same room as some of soccer’s greatest players and touching the “This Is Anfield” sign before taking the pitch was enough to give me goosebumps.

Me and Nick with the captain, Stevie G

I know exactly what LeBron was thinking when he was tweeting about his trip to Liverpool.

“The locals here in Liverpool are so excited about today’s game. I am as well! Its going to be AMAZING #LFC
@SportsCenter One of the single best experiences of my life!The excitement that these fans have is like no other.Extremely loud start/finish”
The experience LeBron had is unique to any other sport. I will remember my stadium tours until the day I died and I need to go back to London for a football game before I die, so I can to experience the match-day atmosphere that soccer instills in people.
Hopefully LeBron will help bring more popularity and press to the beautiful game that is soccer. Celebrities in America are huge to helping the success of the sport grow here. There are positive signs though, like being able to draw in the fourth-largest crowd for soccer ever just for an MLS game.

One Comment

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  1. anothericwriter / Oct 18 2011 1:53 am

    Great post! I’m just wondering if you have any other ideas on how soccer can grow to achieve the kind of popularity in America as it has in Europe? Or would it be a futile effort (is American football’s reverence too great in the US to give way to another type of football)?

    – Melea

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