I am certainly no expert when it comes to soccer. I’ve been to several New England Revolution (Revs) games in Foxboro since I had recruited some of the RevGirls in the past, but that’s about it. I know the basics of the game and pretty much the goal (yes I said it!) of the game. Sadly, that’s more than probably 90% of the people that live in the U.S. know. Why is that?
Next week the 2014 World Cup, the biggest worldwide sporting event that doesn’t have rings in their logo, will commence in Brazil. The whole world, sans most of the United States, will be tuned-in and when I say tuned-in I mean they actually expect over a BILLION people to be watching. Let’s put that in perspective shall we?
The 2014 Super Bowl was viewed by over 111 million people and that was the most watched Super Bowl in history. So about nine times as many people will be watching this year’s World Cup. That’s a staggering number!
So why is soccer not more prevalent in our sports realm? The U.S. loves sports. We have major networks devoted to all sports even individual ones. Also, soccer is one of the sports that so many kids seem to love when they are younger. What happens to all those young fans when they get older?
My belief is that just like the metric system, the sport has never really had the opportunity to grow in this country. It’s because we have so many sports options that soccer has taken a back seat to the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. Even NASCAR, tennis and golf are more popular than soccer here in the U.S.
Many people have tried to make the sport more visible and mainstream. In 2007, the Los Angeles Galaxy signed a huge multi-million dollar contract to bring superstar player David Beckham and his “Queen Victoria” to LaLa Land to help give the sport of soccer a much needed promotional boost. The royal couple of the soccer world was welcomed with fanfare and treated like they were heads of state almost everywhere they went.
The gamble looked like it would pay off big at least in the short term. When the Galaxy played on the road attendance increased at all the venues they visited. When they left, however, the numbers dropped back down again. When Beckham’s contract expired he journeyed back to the U.K. over one quarter of a billion dollars richer than when he arrived. Great for him, but the investment never really paid off as Major League Soccer (MLS) was back to pretty much where they were before he arrived.Here in New England, Revs owner Robert Kraft has done his best to try and keep MLS in the mix. The Revs play at Gillette Stadium and share the same facilities as the Champion NFL Patriots. Kraft’s promotional machine also tries to help propel the stature of the Revs as much as possible with numerous public appearances and special events. They have actually have had some success in creating more awareness. I hope that continues.
On the national front, however, it’s looking like it will take a very long time for soccer to become the popular sport that it is in the rest of the world. As long as the people of the U.S. have so many options to spend their dollars and time on, they will opt for more mainstream choices.
Maybe someday the World Cup and the game of soccer will be just as big here. Until then, we should at least make an effort to tune in and cheer on the U.S. squad who I am sure will do their best to make us proud. GO TEAM USA!
To learn more about the 2014 World Cup visit:
<a href=”http://www.FIFA.com/WorldCup/” target=”_blank”><em>http://www.FIFA.com/WorldCup</em></a>
To learn more about the New England Revs visit:
<a href=”http://www.RevolutionSoccer.net” target=”_blank”><em>http://www.RevolutionSoccer.net</em></a>