A suburban mother in Los Angeles hopes to share her newfound interest in soccer with the world. Mike O'Sullivan reports, Los Angeles "soccer mom" Conroy Kanter is developing a soccer-based reality television show.
Kanter is not a typical American housewife. The neighborhood where she lives is the exclusive seaside community of Malibu. And when she is not taking her children to soccer games, she is an actress and film producer.
Kanter began to pay attention to soccer while watching her 11-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter playing in a youth league. Last year, she got a glimpse of the sport's worldwide impact when she attended a conference in Dubai on the business of soccer.
With the proliferation of reality shows on American television, she decided viewers would love one about the sport.
"I'm at home with my nine and 11-year-old, and there are really not many things that they like to watch on TV," she said. "So I thought, this is an opportunity to develop a show for children and their families. "
The show would have teams of young people involved in competitions in various countries. She says the diversity of the teams and players will appeal to viewers.
"There's always someone you can relate to," she said. "And you want to get behind and root for them and push for them. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to show you kids from around the world."
There is an irony surrounding soccer in the United States, where millions of youngsters play the game. In fact, it is so common that mothers who ferry their children to practices and games are called "soccer moms." But professional soccer ranks low in popularity on the list of televised sports, and its biggest fans are immigrants. Kanter says most other American focus on sports like basketball.
"In America, we're spoiled. We're used to instant gratification," she explained. "And we like scoring - in basketball, it's score, score, score, and if you don't, it's oh! [groans]"
She says soccer teaches discipline and teamwork.
The proposed show has celebrity backers and advisors, including a well-known television host and famous movie producer. A Hollywood restaurateur named Dan Tana is also on board with the project. He defected in 1953 from communist Yugoslavia, where he played for the Red Star Belgrade team. He remains a big soccer promoter, and is a board member of the team and an official with the Serbian Football Association.
Kanter says soccer is immensely popular in Eastern Europe and Asia, in fact, nearly everywhere, except the United States.
"It's huge in the Middle East, South America, Africa, Europe all over, Russia. So it's an international sport," she said.
She says that with millions of American youngsters already playing, it is only a matter of time before soccer is just as popular in this country.