Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Friday, July 07, 2006
  And now...the end is near...
I usually try and avoid this kind of debate about why the US doesn't embrace the sport of soccer. The thing is I'm not sure the sport isn't being embraced.

I can still remember having to hunt for any coverage of the Cup in ’90. Yeah, I got to see all the games I most wanted to see that summer. But it wasn’t easy. When the US played Italy that summer the stadium in Rome was packed with Italian fans. When the showed the small contingent of US fans, it was a group of about 20 people who looked like they could have been the players’ parents. Fast forward to this summer when the US played Italy at the same stage, the stadium was packed with US fans. You could clearly hear the fans from this side of the Atlantic getting behind their team. In addition, ESPN has really given the competition a great deal of coverage. Yeah, it’s not been without complaints, but overall, the coverage is light years ahead of what we saw just 16 years ago.

Back to my original point, is the US embracing the sport. Well, it depends on what you mean by embrace. The 30 or 40 something crowd probably will never give the sport and the World Cup a second look…old habits etc. However, take a look at what demographic was spending their hard earned…err Financial Aid Checks on a trip to Germany this summer. It’s the 18-30 crowd. Those are mostly college age Americans cheering on the team. Think about it, a 20-year-old college student today was only 9 when MLS first started. He/She would have been 7 when the World Cup took place over here. All through their youth they’ve had MLS, EPL, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and several other leagues to watch every week on Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and ESPN. Even though traditional media thumbs its collective noses at the sport, the kids today don’t really remember a time they didn’t have access to the internet and an infinite about of soccer coverage.

No, Sunday’s World Cup Final won’t see they type of Unofficial Holiday status the Super Bowl gets in this country…but it’s getting closer all the time. Look how far things have come in 16 years…at this pace, where will the sport be in another 16 years?
 
Comments:
I think its more the over 40s who aren't going to give it as much of a chance. Those of us in our 30s did have MLS, Satellite TV to watch the game when we were in our 20s.
 
soccer doesn't need to be "embraced" by the US. stadia around the world will still be packed and the world will be watching matches at all hours during the world cup as they have been for years whether the US catches on or not.

besides, there are plenty of people watching, playing, and buying gear and paraphenalia. every sportings goods and department store have football equipment and the bookstores have footy books. every high school, most colleges have teams and most communities have adult leagues (albeit, typically ethnic) as well a kids leagues.

let the jim romes and other loudmouths say their garbage, because outside corn-fed america the sport is doing just fine.
 
There is also growth in the soccer fan base from "non-traditional" sports fans.
I was an obsessed junkie this World Cup. I watched nearly all the games, but
I was really surprised which friends and co-workers sought me out to talk about soccer.

Many new fans(men and women) are people who wouldn't normally tune in to a sporting event. Soccer is accessable enough on the surface to draw them in. Play seems straight forward with few stops and arcane rules. They were drawn in further by the passion and the sub-plots of the games and gradually gained appreciation for the differing styles of play. The existing US fan base that was at public viewings was generally very inviting.

I am especially encouraged by the number of new fans who have expressed interest in following a team or two in the premiere league or bundesliga.
 
I knew that Soccer was here to stay when I visited Des Moines, Iowa for the first time this May. I stunbled upon a soccer store and after buying my 2004-2005 Juventus jersey, I went to a local mall and found a giant sports store with an entire soccer section, with DC United jersey's, Milan jersey's, Germany Jersy's and such.

Our country is going to have soccer in its system from now on. How much it infects, is up to us.

http://dcsundevil.blogspot.com
 
It was a brave move putting up the link to the USA Today debate. There was, of coure, a considerable amount of ignorance. I would only add this: enjoy the relative obscurity-fest while it lasts. When the corporate sponsors and part-time supporters get hold of it, you'll wish that the game was yours again.
 
200% Thankfully, that won't be happening any time soon. Footie in this country is fine the way it is right now. Too much growth too fast will only screw things up (see NASL) Right now we get good coverage and the sport is financially stable. What more could you really want? Beckham? No thanks.
 
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An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

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