Over the past 20 years, America’s pasttime has become the sport of football. Not the football that is the love of the rest of the world. But the football that sees 6’3″, 250 pound linebackers smashing into other grown men at full speed, all while equipped with shoulder pads and a helmet. The football that is the most popular sport on the planet is what we know as soccer.
Soccer is a beautiful game that employs some of the best athletes in the world. So why isn’t it as popular in America as it is everywhere else in the world? Soccer is perhaps the most popular sport in every other country in the world with the except of Canada (hockey). It’s possible that America hasn’t gravitated to soccer because we do not raise and employ elite athletes in the sport. We have the best baseball players in the world and the best basketball players in the world. While we don’t raise the best hockey players, the elite hockey league is based in America. The best soccer is played on the European and South American continents and the American based Major League Soccer (MLS) is an afterthought in the soccer world.
Perhaps the lack of scoring turns off American fans. Baseball has lost its luster in our country because of low scoring. Baseball saw its highest popularity during an era of rampant steroid use. This led to a significant increase in home runs and scoring. The most popular sports in America are football and basketball were we commonly see high scores.
We view soccer as an “Olympic sport”. America gravitates towards these sports every 4 years when athletes are fighting for gold medals. It’s ironic how Americans don’t watch soccer for 3 years and are all of a sudden the biggest fans in the world when the Olympics and World Cup are being played. This past summer, the U.S. women’s team made it to the World Cup final. It was one of the most watched sporting events in American history and players such as Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan have become household names. The previous summer, men’s captain Landon Donovan scored a miraculous last minute goal to win a World Cup game against Algeria. If Americans have more opportunities to see the excitement that we’ve seen for the last two summers, maybe soccer will become more popular in our country. But probably not.