Time Drops the BallNo Messi cover in U.S.
After being awarded his third Balon D’or (Golden Ball), a prize awarded to the best player of the calendar year, Lionel Messi was on the cover of every January issue of Time magazine, except those in North America. Instead, Time opted for a cover story titled, “The Power of Shyness.” The fact that Time chose to cover a personality trait over a highly known world-class athlete does seem a bit odd.
So how does this decision reflect soccer’s status in America? Did Time just blatantly acknowledge soccer as a secondary sport? Do the facts back up their case?
According to the numbers, Major League Soccer (MLS) is growing in America. This past season, the MLS attendance average hit an all time high— nearly 18,000 fans per game—giving the league the third highest average of all American sports, above the NBA and the NHL.
So why did Time choose an article that could have been saved for another day over a timely piece on one of the major superstars of soccer?
In fairness, as a reputable magazine, profit is the name of the game and it would be difficult to determine which cover would sell best. In terms of guaranteed profit, perhaps Time was choosing the safer route. On the other hand, the magazine’s decision acknowledged the stereotype of soccer as a backyard game, a secondary sport in America.
If the magazine had elected to put Messi on the cover, it would have meant a lot for the progression of soccer in America, and it could have benefitted Time as well. As a soccer fan, it just seems like a missed opportunity for both parties.