Why Is Soccer So Popular? Critical Thinkings Example
The answer to the question if soccer is popular in the United States is not obvious. The opinions of experts differ. Some say that this kind of sport is currently gaining more and more popularity; the others are convinced that soccer will never be able to beat neither basketball nor American football in the number of fans. Christopher Harris, an expert on soccer in South Florida, placed a post named “Is Soccer Popular in the United States, or Not?” (Harris). There he dwells on the problem of soccer popularity and tries to clear up the issue both to his readers and to himself.
It is natural that people usually communicate with those who share their views of the basic things. Therefore, the opposite opinion often remains vague or seems nonexistent. Thus, when you are “a rabid soccer fan”, Harris says, it is hard to believe there is anyone who can hate soccer or even be indifferent to it. But unfortunately there is. Harris explains that the idea of soccer not being the mainstream sport in America came to him after reading the article in “The Guardian” the author of which blames Americans for not being patriotic enough in reference to the national team’s successes in the World Cup games (Pilkington). They do not horn in the streets when the team scores or they do not hang their national flags to signal their support. And it is especially strange as soccer is supposed to be at the peak of its popularity at the time of the World Cup agitation.
Harris investigates into the issue and finds out two reasons for such weak enthusiasm about soccer among Americans. The first one is that soccer seems boring, especially if compared to other kinds of sports which Americans are keener on. For instance, American football is faster and it is easier to score there; so, the picture the viewers see is constantly changing during the game. There are more intriguing moments, more scores, more emotions, etc. The same is with basketball where one goal may equal up to six points. Both basketball and American football are essential components of U.S. fan culture. They are played at schools/colleges/universities and on street playgrounds whereas soccer is not.
As a result, American soccer teams are not very competitive on the international soccer arena. And that is the second reason why average Americans do not like watching soccer games. Christopher Harris explains that Americans “always want to excel in everything they do” (Harris); therefore, realizing they are not the best in that kind of sport they just prefer not to watch it so as not to feel disappointed. Harris illustrates this point of view with a good example: an exterminator working in his house confessed to his indifference to soccer but said that he had tried to watch one of the national team’s games and failed to get excited about it; he even was not willing to watch it till the end as he was 100% sure the U.S. team would lose. Such people prefer to spend their time watching something where they (i.e. their teams) can win.
Thus, Harris claims all these reasons and facts taken together draw a very sad picture of relationships between soccer and Americans (Harris). Both reasons outlined above are interrelated: if Americans think soccer is boring, they do not play it, they do not watch it, they do not support their teams, and they do not send their children to learn to play this sport.
However, the things are not as dramatic as Christopher Harris describes (though doing him right, we should say he is still quite optimistic despite all his findings). Of course, soccer is not the priority sport for most Americans but they like it and watch the games of it, especially when these are international matches, such as the World Cup ones or something. According to the statistics, the final of the 2014 World Cup was watched by 26 million viewers in the US (Pierce). And that was not the match in which American men’s team participated, which is a solid proof that Americans are interested in the sport itself but not only in their team’s capability to win, as Harris posits.
Moreover, there are quite a number of hardcore soccer fans who, like Harris himself, “live and breathe soccer” (Harris). They organize supporter groups or fan clubs of their favorite teams, do their utmost not to miss matches, and travel all over the world to cheer for their national team. They are so keen on this sport that they can wake up at 5 a.m. to watch the game live or go to a bar at 8.30 a.m. on Saturday just to enjoy the match together with other fans (Pierce).
Harris argues that Americans do not get obsessed with soccer like they do with football, basketball, or even baseball because it is boring, slow, low-scoring, and lacking in events. But if it were true, there were not so many fans of this kind of sport all over the world and in the USA in particular. This is the sport which, to my mind, has most emotional supporters. A boring event is not able to make people talk and think about one thing only (i.e. soccer), at least once in four years when the World Cup takes place. Soccer World Cups are in the center of all sport discussions long before their start. The choice of the country where the next world championship will take place is a great occurrence which is extensively covered in the media. So, to say that soccer is boring is absurd and ungrounded.
The true thing is that soccer is definitely gaining in popularity in the USA. The statistics is a proof to it. In 2013 soccer matches and events were aired by up to twenty-one networks in America. In 2010, the time of the previous World Cup and the time Christopher Harris wrote his post in question, the number was much smaller – only 11. The survey also indicates that the number of U.S. adults interested in soccer (i.e. they watch, listen to, and attend matches) has grown by 32% since 2010 (Pierce). The Major League Soccer, the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, has increased the number of its clubs from 10 (just a decade ago) to 19. Even English soccer star David Beckham decided to bring a new Major League soccer team to Miami and train them for the World Cup matches on one of Miami stadiums.
There is one more fact for the future of soccer in the USA. Soccer fans are quite young in comparison with football and baseball ones. The age of men who say their favorite sport is soccer averages 37 while football and baseball fans are usually older, 46 and 53 respectively. It means soccer is a sport of the youth. Therefore, its success is still on the way. More and more boys and young men are getting involved in playing soccer. Nowadays parents are more willing to initiate their children to play soccer because it is less traumatic in comparison with still the most popular sport among American youngsters – American football.
Harris, Christopher. “Is Soccer Popular in the United States, or Not?” Worldsoccertalk, 17 June 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Pierce, Molly. “Has Soccer’s Growth Ruined the Game for Hardcore Fans?” The Guardian, 23 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Pilkington, Ed. “World Cup 2010: Horns Still Stay Silent for the Underdog USA.” The Guardian, 18 June 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
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