In August 2013, to gin up excitement ahead of a new season of broadcasting the English Premier League in America, NBC Sports created Ted Lasso, a buffoonish, mustachioed Texan whose complete ignorance of the sport he is hired to coach mocks, and celebrates, America’s long-established disinterest in the world’s favorite game.
The choice of Jason Sudeikis to play Mr. Lasso was likely an easy one. Sudeikis is a well-known actor, a sports fan, and a man capable of hilarious improvisation. When Lasso gets an English nickname, he embraces it. It's “Wanker.”
The producers had Lasso coach Tottenham Hotspur for logistical reasons. But there are other reasons NBC might have wanted Lasso in Tottenham white. Tottenham enjoy worldwide recognition and regularly finish near the top of the Premier League standings; in recent years, the club’s been in the headlines first for employing the explosive Welsh winger Gareth Bale, and then for selling him for a world record $132 million to Real Madrid. (Of course, the club has a rich history stretching back over a century.)
Perhaps more importantly, Tottenham doesn’t usually inspire passion of a negative kind, at least in America. To be sure, Arsenal fans dislike their old rival, but the animus of the North London derby fades as it crosses the ocean. New American fans might despise some clubs like, say, Chelsea, with their oligarch owner and mischievous coach; or Manchester City, the sheikh-backed parvenus; or Manchester United, the arrogant analogue to the New York Yankees. If American soccer fans have an enemy, it's not, probably, Tottenham.