MONTREAL- MAY 7: MLS Commissioner Don Garber speaks to members of the media and fans after announcing the expansion of MLS to Montreal in 2012 at the eXcentris auditorium on May 7, 2010 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images for MLS)
OK, maybe that headline was a bit over the top but, if you read my blog you know I have a real love/hate relationship with Don Garber, I love what he has done for MLS in the past but I tend to hate the conflict of interest with him running both MLS and SUM, I tend to hate that he really doesn't understand new media, and that he values relationships with partners like ESPN who treat the league like a redheaded step child and instead of trying to really help it grow.
Most of all I hate that you can't take him at his word, he is like a politician who crafts the messages to the audience to get them on his side, then will deliver a very different message just hours later to a different audience. Maybe that is what being "the Don" is all about, but I tend to believe in honest communication and integrity in all things, you can change your mind on things that is what learning is all about. His leadership in recent months lead directly to the worst transition of a website I have ever seen, and when most of the other media ignores you still, the league and team websites are the most used tools by most fans. We are 6 months into the new site and it still lacks some of the very basic functionality of the old site.
The league has no iphone, or android app's despite that being a huge market for communications, and you have a leader who's thoughts about social media are that facebook will never succeed because he doesn't know how they will make money, and his biggest concern about Twitter was how to make money off it. Yup that is who will lead MLS for the next 4 years.
I want to share a couple quotes from the SBJ article on his new contract:
The four-year deal, which sources said includes incentives and performance goals that could push his total pay to more than $3 million a year, ensures that the man who led the league from the blight of contraction to the boon of expansion will be at the helm in the future as MLS looks to continue its rapid growth.
"Don's done a phenomenal job and we're really proud of him," said Tim Leiweke, the CEO of AEG and chairman of MLS's board of governors. "The momentum he's created here is phenomenal. We want to keep this going ... and I can't imagine anyone leading the charge but Don Garber."
"He's done everything ownership has asked him to do, and where he's taken the league from a credibility standpoint is impressive," said Mike Petruzzi, Fox Soccer Channel's vice president of sales. "The one thing they need to tackle is the product on the field, and [Thierry] Henry coming over [with the New York Red Bulls last month] ... is a step in the right direction."
Over the next four years, MLS owners expect Garber to improve the league's television ratings, develop the league's new media business and develop the league's quality of play. Leiweke is confident Garber will achieve those goals.
Take from those quotes what you will, but if MLS is going to become a major player in the US sports scene, then some things are going to have to change and while many people are happy with things like buying DP slots for teams with deep pockets, there are just as many worried that the league may quickly be following the footsteps of the last league to try to make soccer a main stream sport in the US, the NASL.
I will continue to cheer for the league to grow wisely, I will continue to criticize where I believe mistakes are being made, this is what someone who is dedicated to the sport, the league, and their team should do. I think all MLS fans should do their best to be informed about what is going on at all levels of the league.
OFF MY SOAPBOX