The amount of people that watch the 2012 Super Bowl was 111 million worldwide, might seem like a very large audience unless you compare it to the amount of people that watched the 2012 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Chelsea with a staggering amount of over 200 million viewers worldwide. (Harry) Soccer is without a doubt the world’s most popular, although, it is not the most popular sport in the United States. It is true soccer, or football how the rest of the world calls the sport, is not the most popular sport in the United States but its popularity is rapidly increasing.
Rich Luker, a 59-year-old baseball-loving social scientist based in North Carolina, is the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, the complex database that recently pronounced soccer as America’s second-most popular sport for those age 12-24, outstripping the NBA, MLB and college football” (Bennet). Immigration into the United States has greatly contributed to the increase in the popularity of soccer. Also, the ease of watching soccer on the television has greatly increased. Soccer brings a sense of community to fans that they are not able to obtain with any other sport.
Contrarily, soccer is a low-scoring, low pace, and has little contact which prevents many Americans from enjoying the sport. What if the way the game is played has nothing to do with why more people are joining the sport? We are living in financially difficult times, and due to this we have seen a growth in the participation of soccer. Immigration into the United States has greatly affected the popularity of soccer in the United States. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, “53 percent of immigrants came from Latin America in the last decade (2000-2010) or about 6,349,527 total Latin immigrants” (Camarota).
Soccer is immensely popular in Latin America so when citizens in those countries immigrate to the United States they bring their activities and share them with the citizens who already reside in America. For example, when I was about ten-years-old my favorite sport was basketball. All I ever did had to do with basketball, my room was decorated with Kobe and Shaq posters, and all I wore was Kobe Bryant’s number eight jersey. My dream was to play basketball for UCLA and then play for the Los Angeles Lakers, that all changed when my cousin Pepe, emigrated from Mexico to the United States.
He never wanted to play basketball with me; all he wanted to do was play soccer. Eventually I started playing soccer with him in hopes of him returning the favor of playing basketball with me, but the weird thing was I started liking it. It allowed me to connect with my cousin on a whole different level. Not only him, but it turned out most of my family really liked soccer. This surprise was an added bonus. Soccer became something more than a sport to me; it became a way of life. I played soccer up until I graduated high school.
I’ve made literally hundreds of friends thanks to soccer. I became friends with my teammates, opponents, coaches, referees and plain fans of the beautiful game. The adrenaline one gets from playing soccer is unparalleled. At first I thought soccer was going to be very boring because it was a low scoring game, but I did not take in mind the intensity of these types of matches. In one second a game can be decided, it does not matter if you were in control the whole game, one simple attack from the other team and you can lose the game.
Now my room is covered in Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho posters The ease of being able to watch or participate in a soccer game has increased dramatically over the years. For the 2010 FIFA World Cup ABC/ ESPN and Univision have spent a combined $425 million for the U. S. broadcast rights — the most for any single country (Saporito). Free and Cable service providers are investing more and more into broadcasting soccer games, because they know people will watch. NBC has also joined this broadcasting craze.
NBC’s soccer properties now include Major League Soccer, U. S. men’s and women’s national team contests, the men’s and women’s Olympic soccer coverage and the venerable Premier League (Davis). Premier League soccer is one of world’s best soccer leagues directly from England. This is what was exactly lacking in free- air television. Premier League soccer was only available with cable up until NBC acquired the right to broadcast in the United States. We will surely see another surge in the amount of people interested in soccer now that they will have access to see the world’s best players.
Having this type of soccer available and not having enough economic resources to afford cable can lead you to follow this sport. A perfect example would be my wife, Kathy, when I first met her she couldn’t stand soccer, but with her boyfriend being a part of the soccer team she learned to tolerate the sport. Now she watches more soccer games than I do. Since we do not have a cable provider she makes due with what she has. Telemundo starts broadcasting Mexican League soccer games and MLS games around mid-day on Saturdays and Sundays so eventually she ran out of shows to watch and got hooked on the emotion only a soccer game can bring you.
This brings me to my next point, more and more people are joining soccer because of the of the sense of belonging being a soccer fan can bring you. Ruther stated this from his observations of the soccer community, “It is a true community. The only group that comes close are college sports fans or followers of the Grateful Dead. They embrace soccer as a communal lifestyle as opposed to a personal experience or a community that only exists on game day” (Bennett). This experience is overwhelming. I remember my first professional soccer game I attended. It was the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 final between Mexico and the United States.
We arrived at the Rose Bowl two hours early because we heard the tailgate party before the game was sensational. It was. You had free activities everywhere you looked. The fans where getting their face and body painted with their national team’s colors. This great atmosphere was brought inside the stadium. All the Mexican fans where singing “Cielito Lindo”, a typical Mexican song to sing at soccer games. The Rose Bowl was completely sold out, by the time all the fans attending where in the stadium and in their seats the Rose Bowl was a sea of green with small patches of white.
American supporters were sitting next to me, so I knew the game was going to fun because of the trash talking we were both going to trash talk all throughout the game, and we had already began. In the first minutes of the game the United States went up 2-0. When the second goal was scored it seemed as if someone would have muted the entire stadium, except the American fans. I could not handle all the trash talking the person next to me was giving me, but I had hopes of a comeback, the whole stadium did. What a comeback it was. Mexico ended up winning 4-2 and the stadium exploded with joy and chants.
I finally got my payback on the American fan and boy was it sweet. Before leaving the game we exchanged our team jerseys, custom opposing soccer players and now fans do at the end of the game. I actually even got his phone number and now we are great friends. We always get together whenever United States and Mexico face each other. This is what people love about the sport, the atmosphere, the fans and never knowing what can happen in a game. I completely understand why Americans have not hopped on the soccer bandwagon yet. I know, because as stated previously I use to be one of you.
I have heard and thought about your reasons. For example, it does not have enough scoring, action, and/or contact for most Americans’ tastes (Hauser). These reasons are all opinion based, but it does not mean American taste cannot change. Rich Luker gave these prophetic words about where the popularity of soccer in the upcoming year, “Soccer’s avid fan base is 10 percent, which does not sound like much until you realize that is 33 million people. “Based on the way it is trending, I believe global soccer will soon be four or five times bigger than it is today, and MLS’s fan base will triple or quadruple,” he said.
For those who do not believe, Luker is keen to underline that change can happen fast”. In 1994, MLB was as popular as the NFL. This stuff can shift quickly and right now, soccer is like a rocket ship on the launchpad” (Bennett). American citizens purchased more FIFA World Cup game tickets than any other country in the world, besides the South Africa, the home country (Goff). The in-home television coverage of the competition reached over 3. 2 billion people around the world, or 46. 4 per cent of the global population, based on viewers watching a minimum of over one minute of coverage.
This represents an eight per cent rise on the number of viewers recorded during the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ (“Almost half the world tuned in at home to watch 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™”). This event shows that soccer take-over has begun and the rocket is already blasting off. What if the game rules, the flow of the game, the way the game is played actually has nothing to do with why more people are hopping onto the soccer bandwagon and is due to the United States’ economic recession we are experiencing?
Due to the recent economic recession more people have joined the soccer trend due to the economic recession we are currently in. It is much more economical to play soccer than to participate in any other sport. For example, in the high school I attended it would cost $250 in order to receive you’re your uniforms and necessary accessories to be able to participate except the cleats. The least expensive cleats on Nike. com are $53. 97 (Nike) so that would be a total of $303. 97 per season. In the soccer program they would give us the uniform free of charge and the accessories needed would be your cleats and shin guards.
The least expensive cleats on Nike. com are $41. 97 and $20 for the shin guard for a total of $61. 97 per season (Nike) . That is a total difference of $242 per sport per season. It is quite obvious why people would give soccer a chance and the difference adds up if you have more than one child wanting to play the sport. About 175 countries recognize soccer as their official national sport (Hauser) . Due to in part of high immigration from Latin American countries, soccer has grown dramatically over the years, and according to some experts it will continue growing for the next couple decades.
The growing availability of soccer games broadcasted on the television is also a contribution to why soccer popularity is growing, it is available for more people to watch unlike 10 years ago when there were only a few channels broadcasting soccer and you had to have cable to watch the games. Soccer brings a sense of being part of something, something greater that has ever been seen here in the States, and more and more people like the feeling. Although, many people state that soccer is low scoring, low contact, and low action that soccer contains in their opinion, it does not mean people’s opinions cannot change.
Twenty years ago baseball use to be as popular as football but now soccer has overtaken in popularity in United States (Bennett) What if people were not actually attracted to the sport for the sense of community it brings you, or because it is more easily accessible than it was before, or because of the Latin American immigrants are bringing in their favorite sport and playing it more and influencing others to play it as well? What if it would have to do with the Nation’s economic wellbeing?
It is less expensive to enroll yourself or your child to play soccer than any other popular sport. For example, playing football in the high school I attended would cost approximately $242 more dollars than playing soccer. In these harsh economic times you look where you can save money. Do not judge soccer before you’ve seen a top-notch game or before you play the beautiful game, if you do not like it once you tried it then it is completely fine and you can go back on your front porch and yell at the kids playing soccer in the street to stop kicking the ball into your yard.
Courtney from Study Moose
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