Is MLS the NSA? Discuss…

Boy, do I have questions today. I found another question to pick at in a post on MLS Rumors. It seems an anonymous emailer button-holed New England Revolution Front Office Officers, Craig Tornberg and Brian Biello and managed to squeeze a few morsels of insider dish out of them. As with the post below, I’m less interested in the dish than I was in this statement:

“They have a lot of news they just can’t release because it’s not meant for it being made public.”

So, here’s the question: what happens if this news goes public? And I’m asking because I can’t imagine. Are they thinking floods, financial panic, a nation-wide freakout when we all learn that the Feds are actually locking down extra-terrestrials in Foxboro and will sit on them only provided the Revs never build a soccer-specific stadium?

The failed deal to bring Juan Sebastian Veron to Major League Soccer (MLS) is the most recent exhibit in why things/negotiations/etc. must be kept secret, but….in all honesty, why? This is a business built on a friggin’ game and that’s the case no matter how “beautiful” it may be. How did we get here? Some player deals I get (though, again, not really), but I don’t understand why the Revs don’t want to talk about what they’re trying to do to build the game in the Boston-area. Would news of these efforts be worse than the current silence and impression of near-total indifference? And I mean that even if they failed. I’m of the opinion they look dumber holding off. Then again, I’m a positive whore for transparency.

4 Responses

  1. First off, they were talking about the stadium so it isn’t that hard to believe that local political sensibilities could be the reason. Maybe a municipality doesn’t want people to get up in arms while they talk a little turkey with the Revs. Who knows.

    Secondly, consider the source. This is a site that has published stories people make up, revels in the fact that they (OMG) got pictures of Beckham (gasp) having a drink, and rates the accuracy of other people’s work without doing any leg work themselves.

    MLS keeps no more secrets than most other American sports leagues/teams. The problem is fans too often want things spoon fed to them, some reporters prefer to whine instead of developing better sources, and some people who follow the league will complain about anything.

    I’m all for transparency too, but I don’t think executives withholding info from a fan in a bar is really worth castigating the league for. Especially since that fan went right to a web site that peddles in fiction as much as fact.

  2. To piggyback on Brian’s first point, if a municipality in the Boston area openly discussed how they were going to acquire land and help build a SSS like they are doing in Houston, it would be DOA. I was going to elaborate on that today on BBJ, but I got distracted by hot tub photos. They actually have a really neat way of doing enterprise zones down in Texas. There’s way too many moneygrubbers to do that up here.

    On MLS Rumors, I think people give them a hard time. People that bash them have a hard time looking away. If you don’t like them, just don’t click on their ads.

  3. MLS Rumors is what it is. I have a hell of a time fathoming why people don’t get that. And I don’t think the rating system is hostile.

    As for Brian’s comments, I popped over to his site (you’re an old Soccer America hand, right? Nice new digs, too) and get where he’s coming from; he’s a freelance guy getting those sources. And that’s very admirable. But why not ask WHY you have to work so hard to cultivate those sources: what meaningful advantage does that provide for all concerned? I’m not concerned with what MLS suits keep from some random dude in a bar; it’s that their media operation is clumsy, full of leaks, and, when their official site is the last place one goes for news, it all looks a little Keystone Cops. And this isn’t simply a question of getting spoon-feeding the public either: this is part good public relations (“see, we are trying, we are moving forward, etc.?”) and part perception – e.g. when you’re talking stadiums, transparency demonstrates good faith, that you’re not afraid to take the case to the public.

    Does the public have a genuine right to know about the inner workings of the game? Not a right, no. That’s silly going the other way. My bemusement at the idea that there is something meaningful to hide is the point of the original post.

    One last point to expand on and I’ll leave this alone. I get what Jimmy Chowda’s saying about keeping things on the down-low when preparing ground on the stadium. There’s an upside to being ready for a thorough roll-out against and, ideally, over the NIMBY factions when the time comes. That’s one tack to take. I would only submit that going the other way – e.g. full disclosure about where you’re looking – opens another dynamic. If the Revs go high-profile public about building an SSS somewhere in the Boston metro – who knows? – they may wind up having a couple municipalities compete for the privilege. Also, you’ll have to face the NIMBY machine at some point: why not face them by pointing out that your organization has always operated openly?

    There are many, many ways to skin a cat. And, to be blunt about it, I think MLS’s approach is kind of silly and, by pretending they’ve got something meaningful to hide, self-aggrandizing.

  4. P.S. One thing to add: thanks for the counter-point, Brian. My view isn’t gospel, so that’s always welcome. Besides, for all I know, more people agree with you than me.

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