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Why Is Soccer Not As Popular In The U.S?

Piece of History

If someone were to tell you that soccer has been around in the United States since 1620, would you believe them? Well you better. Amazingly, it is said that in Plymouth Rock the pilgrims and native Indians used to play a game by the name of “Pasuckquakkohowog”, which roughly translates to “They gather to play football”. But it wasn’t until 1850 – 1862 that the first organized club was formed in Boston, the Oneidas. To put this into context, the giant club, FC Barcelona, was founded in 1899, forty nine years after the Oneidas. This begs the question, if soccer has been around in the U.S just as long as it has in other parts of the world, then why isn’t it as popular?

Sports-Culture

To answer the question we need to understand the sports culture of the country. First let’s take a look at the major sports in the U.S; Basketball, Baseball, and American Football, they have one thing in common, size. Players for these sports need to have size and athleticism, yet for soccer not as much. This led to the common misconception and erroneous opinion that soccer is a “girls sport”. Although I highly disagree with this way of thinking, (no sport is either a man’s sport or woman’s sport), there is one silver-lining; women’s soccer in the U.S. Since the majority of people adopted that mentality in the past, soccer became the sport for girls and women to play, which in turn has made the U.S women’s national team dominant in a global scale. 

It’s All About The Money

The other aspect we need to understand of the sports-culture is the profitability. When comparing the three major sports in the U.S (Basketball, Baseball, and American Football), with soccer, there is one major difference; the revenue. Looking at the major sporting event in the U.S, the Superbowl, and putting it next to the major soccer event in the world, the World Cup, the viewings and revenue difference is significant. In the 2018 World Cup, an outstanding 3.5 billion people tuned in to watch the event. That same year only 103.4 million people tuned in to watch the superbowl. However, when we see the revenues, the superbowl made $14 billion dollars and the World Cup made 5.4 billion. But why?

A regular soccer game has two halves of 45 minutes each and a 15 minute break in-between. Leaving little room for advertisements and “concession-stand-breaks”. On the other hand, both football and baseball on average last around three hours, and basketball two and a half. With lots of breaks, timeouts, and stoppage during the game. Allowing  for more consumption of foods, beverages, and advertisements.

The Future Looks Bright

Although the popularity of the sport is not at the same level as it is in other countries yet, it is definitely growing. With the women’s national team dominating the world stage, America has placed itself in the spotlight of the sport. Also, The national soccer league (MLS) continues to grow exponentially. New franchises are emerging, and world class players are being brought to the league, attracting more viewers. There is also a new generation of young talented players from the U.S playing for teams in Europe’s elite teams. All in all, it could be said that the future of the sport looks bright. And will continue to do so as long as the popularity continues to grow.

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