Can Soccer gain the Same Popularity as the other Four Sports in the U.S.?
Every Week Back Sports Page asks Five Questions to staff and experts. The questions and answers are posted throughout this week on Backsportspage.com. This week we put the focus around the world of sports!! Check out BSP for this week’s questions
This week we have multiple Back Sports Page Contributors to give their insights to our questions.
Can Soccer gain the same popularity as the other four sports in the U.S.?
Ashley Mayle (Back Sports Page): Soccer is an international sensation, some may argue that it may be the most popular sport in the world; but international is the key. Soccer is easily the fourth most popular sport in the U. S. The Major League Soccer (MLS) doesn't draw half the attention that the English Premiere League commands. Remember all those star players (Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and etc...) you heard of during the 2014 World Cup? They all play for the English Premiere League.
Although MLS attendance is increasing here in the U.S. and has been since the early 2000's, soccer in America is still trailing four major sports. Soccer is and always has been an international game with the world's premiere stage being overseas. Will it ever gain enough popularity here in the U.S. to be in discussion with the other four sports? No.
Steve Saunders (Back Sports Page): Yes.The current structure of the sport professionally is not doing us any favors. US Soccer needs to combine the MLS, USL AND NASL and implement a promotion/relegation system. Invest in more teams in non-professional cities, places like Louisville, Kentucky; Birmingham, Alabama or Albuquerque, New Mexico. Next, get rid of the draft and asinine transfer regulations. If soccer is going to rival the NFL we need the world's best players playing here and that won't happen when they can't play with any more than two other "designated players." We also need owners like the Glazers, Stan Kroenke and Randy Lerner to invest in domestic teams instead of the Premier League and that isn't happening with the way things are currently being micromanaged
Ryan Morik (Beat Of The East Sports): Soccer won't gain any more popularity if the sport isn't Americanized. Don't call a 0-0 game "nil nil;" it's zero-zero. It's a field, not a pitch. It's a soccer team, not a futbol club. The sport is not being Americanized, so it will never be a top four sport here in the states.
Allison Stahley (Back Sports Page): It's true. Soccer is still not as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world and it's definitely not even the most popular sport here at home. That's not shocking, considering the domestic league is barely 20 years old and has only in recent years truly started to expand, gain traction and capture the general sporting public's attention with big names.
But soccer is establishing a heartening trend. Major League Soccer's 2015 season had an average attendance of nearly 22,000 - the highest average attendance in the history of the league. While that's (not surprisingly) behind the average attendance of the NFL and MLB, it's surpassed both the NBA and the NHL. And beyond the domestic game, earlier this year NBC retained the rights to the Premier League under a six-year agreement worth about $1 billion.
All this indicates an increasing appetite for and the promise of a more consistent soccer presence on our television screens. There is a growing appreciation for the beautiful game in America - and for all of us soccer fans, it's definitely about time.
JD Mowery (Back Sports Page): I think that soccer has found its niche in the US. The "rebels" have a presence in the stadium and as long as the team does well, it will continue to grow in popularity.
Timmy Dimas (Back Sports Page): I believe soccer can be, and is already gaining traction on other sports. With teams adding young superstars like Sebastian Giovinco and Giovanni dos Santos, while mixing in some legends like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, interest in the sport will increase. Seattle, Portland and LA all have a huge fan base at every game. New comers Orlando FC (32,000+) and NYC FC (29,000+) finished 2nd and 3rd in attendance behind Seattle. The fans are there, the high name players are there, all that's left to make MLS climb the American sports ladder is a real competition. Branching away from CONCACAF club tournaments and finding their way into the Europa League competition, which is the second biggest club tournament behind Champions League. There are other pressing matters that could bolster the MLS popularity but that'll be for another written occasion.
Matt Berkson (Back Sports Page): Can soccer gain the same popularity as the other four sports? Yes. Will it? No. I guess when our founding fathers rebelled from England and created America they also had to rebel against the Motherland's official sport and tweak it to use our hands.
Anyway jokes aside, for whatever reason soccer isn't in America's blood the way it is in the rest of the world. Because of that our best athletes play the the other sports that are: Baseball, basketball, and football. That said the United States has the best pure athletes in the world, so if we groomed the next generation of superstar athletes to play soccer not only would we have one one of the best teams in the world, but of course the interest level would rise tremendously.
I mean imagine athletes LeBron or Adrian Peterson groomed to play soccer since they were kids? To see world class sportsmen play wouldn't just garner the interest of the United States, but the rest of the world. Right now those US citizens who are soccer fans usually follow European leagues because that is where a majority of the best soccer players play. That means the MLS, while growing, is still significantly behind the talent levels of most of the leagues throughout Europe and other parts of the world.
The last soccer prodigy the US thought they had was Freddy Adu. Unfortunately he flamed out and isn't even playing in the MLS right now. Had Adu panned out he could have carried the torch for a generation of young kids who would have not only started following soccer, but might have become our future star of the sport.
Overall there are tons of things that could make soccer right up there with baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, but right now it's a long time away at best.