Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sports Saturday: Streaming FIFA World Cup online, plus thoughts on Pac-10 expansion

We don't usually delve into the realm of spectator sports here on The Advocate, because this is a blog about politics and policy, covering real issues that we face as a region, as a nation, and as a democratic society.

But it can't hurt every once in a while to take a break.

I've heard several sports pundits lament how unfortunate it is that Americans aren't interested in soccer like the rest of the world, and what a shame it is that the United States is ignoring the FIFA World Cup. But that's not been true in my experience. Everywhere I've gone for the last couple of days, people have been talking about the Cup. It didn't hurt that America was playing England this morning in a much-anticipated match, which the U.S. "won" by forcing a draw.

As it so happens, I was streaming the game (volume muted) whilst listening to candidates talk to the King County Democrats Endorsement Committee. (I sit on the committee, and we had a whole day's worth of candidates to interview).

And when I went to the electronics store later, the game was on there, and people were watching it and commenting about it while walking down aisles. I heard conversations about the Cup at the post office, too.

Before the game began I was looking around for the best place to stream it online, and it turns out that it's not so easy to view the matches if you don't have a television set or can't take advantage of one. I ended up using Univision's live stream, which was pretty good. It didn't matter that I hardly know Spanish, because I was only watching, not listening.

If you want an English stream, you'll probably want to check out ESPN, although ESPN is not streaming all sixty-four of the matches.

There are also live soccer channels on and UStream. TV Bunch has a schedule of which matches will be streamed when, in case you're an aficionado.

I've got too much going on to watch every game, but I'll be following the results, so at least I'm not uninformed.

While I'm on the subject of spectator sports, I might as well offer my thoughts on the expansion of the Pac-10, which calls itself the Conference of Champions.

Since before I was born, the Pac-10 has consisted of ten schools: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Southern California, Stanford, California Los Angeles (UCLA), Arizona, and Arizona State. All these "Left Coast" schools are located in the Pacific time zone, and all are reasonably close to the Pacific Ocean, so the conference's name was befitting.

But now, wanting to take advantage of the financial windfalls that are expected to come with enlargement, the Pac-10 is seeking to expand. It has already gobbled up Colorado and several more schools are expected to follow, shattering the Big Twelve conference. The other new schools are from Oklahoma and Texas... states that are nowhere close to the Pacific Ocean.

I have mixed feelings about the expansion. On the one hand, it's nice to have a bigger conference; a larger group of schools means more opponents for each, and the Pacific schools will be able to build stronger ties with schools in the middle of the country. On the other hand, it means the Pac-10 as we know it is history.

It's true that with the addition of the new schools, the conference could be subdivided and we could once again have the old "Pac-8" division consisting of the California, Washington, and Oregon schools. But the overall conference name will have to be changed. I'd like to throw in my nomination for the new name.

How's this sound: Mighty West.

It's short, it's punchy, it avoids the word "big" (which is overused) and it's appropriate. All the schools in the conference will be west of the Missisippi River, traditionally considered to be the American West. And, with sixteen competitive schools, the superconference will be surely be mighty.


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