The top U.S. sports websites (most read/most popular) are: YAHOO.com, ESPN.com, FOXsports.com and SI.com. None of these sites give MLS its own category/webpage on their homepages.
MLS is found only among the ‘Soccer’ category.
Each of the other big ‘4’ team sports have their own categories. One click is all it takes for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.
These top sports websites differ slightly in how they approach all the other sports. Depending on season and popularity, other sports get a category to themselves or are grouped with other sports to form another page.
NASCAR has its own category on all but SI, where it appears as part of a dropdown menu of the category ‘Racing.’ College Football has its own category on each site and College Basketball has its own on two of them. UFC has its own category on YAHOO and FOX and is not mentioned on SI’s dropdown for MMA and Boxing. Golf and Tennis get their own categories on all sites, except for ESPN, in which they are found among ‘More Sports’ (Tennis disappears from some of these sites’ main categories depending on whether majors are being played.).
Depending on individual events, a category and/or webpage is created for an event, such as; Wimbledon, the Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500 and The Masters. Each site handles the big events differently.
On ESPN, MLS is accessed from one dropdown menu and on SI, it is accessed from two dropdown menus. On FOX and YAHOO, MLS is accessed after two clicks of dropdowns and/or category listings.
On TheBigLead.com, there is a Soccer category only in which MLS articles fall under, but no MLS category under Soccer.
Where does MLS belong among all of these sites and how long before they get their own category on the homepages?
It could be a while because so many U.S. Soccer fans follow club Soccer from other leagues around the world, so website engineers or CEO’s try to encompass all of Soccer together as one category. But, there could come a time when ‘MLS’ becomes distinguished from ‘Soccer’ on these homepages.
It may end up that one top sports website will break through and be a leader and the others will follow like sheep. None are willing to blaze the trail yet.
American sports fans shouldn’t have to search through world Soccer webpages to find their American league.
So, why aren’t top sports websites giving MLS its own category of articles? Probably because the debate on whether MLS is mainstream or not hasn’t been decided.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com