•In Florida, the Miami Herald and News, along with the Fort Lauderdale News, gave the NBA a total of 334 inches, the NHL 163 and the MISL 10.
•In Dallas, which has an NBA franchise, the MISL received nearly equal treatment with the NHL—in the agate.
And, as weak as newspaper coverage may be, it seems, outside of MISL cities, scores and coverage of indoor soccer are never given on any local newscasts. It's surely more difficult for something original in sports to gain credibility than it is for new forms in any other part of the entertainment world.
On a secondary media level, local coverage, the MISL has fared rather well in many cities. Generally, in MISL towns the teams have received their warmest reception from radio, the most splintered of the major media. Radio stations even target their audiences much as the MISL tries to do. It is revealing that the league has gotten the least attention in the largest cities. The fact is, the MISL can win all sorts of media skirmishes against rival NBA and NHL teams in Kansas City and San Diego, Cleveland and St. Louis, but it can never win battles—much less the war—unless it seriously dents the major markets. World Team Tennis probably came closer to making a go of it than is generally recognized, but because it could never gain acceptance from the New York/national press, the league could never turn that final sharp corner.
As for the MISL, the record is not promising. It has already folded in three of the five largest metropolitan areas—Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit—while it has been only a propped-up nonentity in New York and a cut-rate arena loss leader in L.A. "I'm not kidding myself," Foreman says. "We have a bad selling problem in the big cities."
It is the party line at MISL headquarters in Philadelphia that the small-city franchises have succeeded because they just happen to be the ones that have enjoyed the best management. Possibly. But history argues more persuasively that it is much easier to make a mark in relatively small markets, where competition is sparse and boosterism intense. Sports leagues don't seem to be all that different from a lot of show business acts that preceded them, in failing to wow folks in the big time quite the way they did the rubes.
Well, the tale should soon be told, because with new management in New York and Chicago and a powerful sports family in L.A., the MISL is prepared to take on the big-city challenge. The answer must come fairly quickly, too, because, as was not the case in the old days when Ben Kerner roved the land with a franchise in his pocket, much as other peddlers had hawked pots and pans, the stakes are too high now for any protracted fight for survival. If indoor soccer doesn't cut it in the big cities soon—and impress the big shots who live in those big cities and call the shots for the national press and TV—then the MISL will go belly up. It will be just one more carcass for the next new league to crawl over. There are always new leagues, aren't there? It's the American dream, pro sports division.
The biggest scores are never run up out on the field. "I'll tell you something," Uncle Bunky says. "Big money doesn't come into anything where big money can't be made, heh. Did you know that?"