Part and parcel of growing the game of soccer in the United States are some growing pains. Growing pains like when one of the stars of a city’s soccer team calls into one of the local sports radio talk shows and the host doesn’t realize who he’s talking to until halfway through the call.
Radio coverage in Philadelphia has been a hot topic recently, with the Union signing its first radio deal with local station 94 WIP, who will carry 17 live games next season. It wasn’t all smiles and handshakes though; some more entrenched members of the local media, especially on the radio, have been openly hostile towards soccer.
WIP host Glenn Macnow once said in his book The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate that he would rather have a “jalapeno enema” than watch “the world’s dumbest sport.” He called soccer fans “proselytizing geeks” (actually, guilty as charged on that one) and ironically, disses a then 15 year old Freddy Adu, now with the Union.
So it was with that sort of background that Union right back Sheanon Williams called into Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic on Wednesday.
The call began as yet another example of the mainstream sports media condescending to soccer, delivering the hackneyed “nobody really cares” sort of dismissal, combined with a patronizing comparison to Smarty Jones, the Philadelphia-based racehorse who won the first two thirds of the Triple Crown a few years back.
And then somebody figured out that this wasn’t just any regular soccer caller.
Now, I’m willing to bet money that what happened next was that a producer, more enlightened about soccer, connected the dots and realized that this guy in Philadelphia, but not from Philadelphia, named “Sheanon” and talking about soccer, might just be Sheanon Williams, starting right back for the Union, and notified Missanelli, resulting in the following surreal exchange:
“Are you a player?”
“Oh, really, you’re on the squad?”
“Yeah, I’m on the squad.”
The conversation then abruptly changes tone as Missanelli apologizes, then attempts to talk soccer, then quizzes Williams on his hometown and alma mater (aka, the information readily available on his Wikipedia) as though he’s suspicious of being hoaxed.
To listen to the call, click here.