Friday, November 20, 2009

From our first exposure to maybe our biggest yet

Back in the early 90s, the Goodwill Games came to Seattle. The Goodwill Games, over the course of its 16 year existence, helped launch careers of a couple thousand athletes from over probably 100 countries. It was a brainchild of Ted Turner as a way to ease Cold War tensions and did a lot of good in the world. Serving also as one of the launching off points of the "world fame" of Pike Place Fish, the Goodwill Games helped bring a whole heckuva lot of attention to a group of well-intentioned authentic fishmongers. Any Fishguy or BizFutures presentation you hear from us these days includes the story of our bi-weekly dinner meeting back in the late 80's where we said "let's be world famous fishmongers" and we all laughed.......only to have Goodwill Games cameras in our faces throwing fish and then every following day having strangers show up asking "where do they throw fish?"

Well it's now almost 20 years after such exposure and not only are we on film for a sport, but Friday November 20th put us on a stage with the world's game of "futbol" or in the US: Major League Soccer. Playing host to the MLS Cup between Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy, Seattle began opening it's arms this week when soccer games burst out in the street from guerilla marketers and people NOT wearing cleats on the street felt to be in the minority.

With all due respect to the Goodwill Games, this is not a gathering of people playing games to "ease tensions" or to "spark discussion", this is the most popular sport played on the planet. ESPN and US Soccer Legend John Harkes will broadcast what they shot today to approximately 122 countries. The MLS is a league that plays host for players from all corners of the globe. These players play for American cities, European clubs, African nations, and from Universities all over. Basically, we have cameras here every day but Friday there were about 30 cameras that were legit media outlets filming us throwing fish to soccer stars. Funny stuff. We usually have people catch a fish, wash their hands and maybe get a picture. Today, we had custom made aprons from the MLS, we had about 3 cameras behind the counter and 25 out front all filming for TV and we had two pro players Chris Seitz and Alan Gordon essentially trying to "score" a salmon past the other as a sea of people clogged up the entire corner of 1st and Pike yelling about the match on Sunday. There were industry-types and marketing specialists sweating as these dead animals hurdled through the air and flashes lit up everyone's face like we were shooting a feature film. "First class you guys, thank you!" said the marketing team from MLS. I think they expected a bunch of surly and bitter dudes who would resist crowds but they got the fishguys from Pike Place!

The history of soccer and it's place in America always seems to get a bum-rap but since it's arrival in Seattle there has been nothing but uproarious welcome and enthusiasm. The Seattle Sounders made the playoffs as a first-year expansion squad and sold out every single match setting a new MLS record for attendance at over 30,000 seats per game (most MLS clubs only get about 11,000 per game). I write this on Friday and usually do these updates when inspiration visits. The match isn't until Sunday so watch out for more and know your chances of avoiding the fishguys in the media is getting more and more slim. Soccer is getting exciting and that we could be part of all this before the Cup is pretty exciting. Keep here and on facebook for a video of all the happenings from the weekend.