It is becoming increasingly popular for a sporting league to have a dedicated holiday. Here is my proposal for MLS to create a similar event, which could lead to explosive growth and coverage.
It is becoming increasingly popular for a sporting league to dedicate a holiday to become synonymous with that league. For the NFL it is Thanksgiving, NBA equals Christmas and the English Premier League gets Boxing Day.
Since every league has its unique traditions, I believe Major League Soccer should steal the best elements of each to create their own MLS holiday.
With that in mind, here are three proposals for how they should shape… July 4th. I know that MLB has its own celebration for this day, but they like to celebrate every holiday throughout the summer from labor day to mother’s day and everything in between.
The first proposal that MLS should steal for their national holiday is three dedicated locations for the matches to be played. The NFL does this with Detroit and Dallas hosting every year. For these purposes, the league could have three nationally televised matches each year with the hosts set in stone for the remainder of time.
And with July 4th being a holiday to celebrate the birth of America, only three hosts make sense: D.C., the capital, Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States, and New England, as that is where the Revolutionary War began.
Each of these three hosts can play up their history in building the nation each year and build up their MLS history. Ideally, there would be noon, two, and four o’clock kick-off times moving down the coast in order of the historical building of the United States.
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A second proposal will be that the schedule needs to be absolutely packed like Boxing Day for the Premier League or Christmas Day in the NBA. Those three aforementioned host clubs would have their time slot to themselves, but every other club could rotate their host duties on the day (with the exception of the Canadian clubs, more on them later). These remaining clubs can then all be jumbled together in a glorious eight o’clock kickoff. This means there would be eight matches all going on at once with one club missing out to join the three Canadian inactives.
These eight games all take place at the same time with an ESPN+ whip-around RedZone style show jumping around to enjoy the madness. Ideally, these 8 o’clock kickoffs will take place in cities outside of the eastern time zone, meaning the stadiums can either host fireworks or for those in downtown locations, it will allow for fans to go straight to where this might be happening.
The final proposal will be that Canadian teams conduct a similar process on Canada Day, July 1st. This will be a similar event like July 4th, only Montreal and Toronto will take turns hosting each other and Vancouver will always host one of their Cascadia Rivals rotating between Portland and Seattle. This gives us a July 1st Canada Day with two prime rivalry matches and the United States Independence Day with three nationally televised matches and eight concurrent matches.
With Don Garber and MLS always searching for things to make the league pop off the television schedule and attract a larger audience, this could be the ideal set-up. Imagine in 30 years, you might have generations of fans enjoying their Fourth of July barbecues and tuning into must-see MLS match-ups. It could happen, and MLS would be the better for it.