NOTE TO READERS: Every few years, Couch Slouch has fun at Major League Soccer's expense. So if you are an MLS devotee, we invite you - in fact, we implore you - to leave the room now. I poke at MLS because, well, I can, and because it's really, really relaxing.
Major League Soccer is in the midst of its regular season - actually, MLS is always in the midst of its regular season; it's the longest season in U.S. professional sports - and as the soccer wonks celebrate their unnatural blight on the American sporting landscape, let me point out three small details:
1. MLS is coming off record attendance, but this is sort of deceiving.
2. Nobody's watching this stuff on TV. Nobody.
3. Uh, how come a lot of the best players are missing?
But first let's talk about MLS's unspeakable, interminable abuse of the calendar. This year, Opening Day was March 2 and MLS Cup will be Dec. 7 or 8. That's nine-plus months, or longer than your typical Taylor Swift relationship.
(The state of Mississippi now recognizes January and February as "MLS-Free Months.")
So here's the good news for MLS: In 2011, the league averaged record attendance (17,872 per game), and then in 2012, the league broke the mark again (18,807). Still, it took MLS 15 years to exceed the 17,406 per-game average it posted in its inaugural 1996 season.
Eight MLS teams, in fact, have franchise highs for season attendance in their first year.
Expansion franchises and new stadiums inflate the crowds. But what happens is this: People come to sample the new product or the new building, then they say, "Oh, they're playing soccer" and don't come back.
The exception is Seattle, where the Sounders averaged 31,203 in their first season in 2009 and climbed to a remarkable 43,144 in 2012.
(I don't know what they're putting in the coffee up there, but in Seattle if they're not going to Starbucks, they're going to Sounders games.)
As it is, if you take away Sounders games, MLS average attendance drops below that of your typical Sonic Burger.
I live in Los Angeles, which gives me the luxury of two MLS teams I can ignore.
Heck, in retirement, even David Beckham goes to more Lakers games than Galaxy games.
(Fun L.A. fact: The Home Depot nearby usually draws a bigger Saturday crowd than Chivas USA does at the Home Depot Center. Then again, parking at the Home Depot is free.)
Meanwhile, even if they're showing up at games, nobody's showing up at home to watch MLS on TV.