The next big thing? Rise of soccer in the US

Andre Spruell , Opinion Co-Editor

Soccer is a sport that is the most popular in many countries, even in the United States. There are many sports that are put ahead of soccer in this country, some of those sports include baseball, hockey, and football, which is the most popular sport in the country.

The irony is that in countries outside of the U.S., soccer is referred to as football, and in other parts of the world, the United States’ version of football is known as “American football.” When it comes to the sport of soccer, there are many people that do not like it, and even more people that do like it. Aside from soccer being on the international stage at tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, many of the different professional leagues within the sport is watched by many Americans. According to the Huffington Post, among 12- to 17-year-olds, MLS is now more popular than MLB.

This is important for the growth of soccer in this country, because that is the largest age group that participates in these sports considering it is the youth level. Personally, I think soccer will be among the top three most popular in the states, but it will still take some time. There are many reasons why it will take a while for the American public to grow towards the sport. One reason why many Americans would not consider watching the sport, is because it may be difficult to understand and is boring.

Unlike many other sports that have multiple timeouts and commercial timeouts for advertising purposes, soccer is a 90-minute game broken down into two 45 minute straight halves on a field whose dimensions are larger than a football field. For the fact that the game occurs at a slower pace and has a very little “commercial time” for big advertisers are two reasons alone. Less money from advertisers and less viewership, means less money coming in from networks. A major reason why most of the popular networks are hesitant to air a live game.

The biggest factor in my opinion as to why the sport is not largely popular in the states is because of the lack of an international superstar for the U.S. Despite having extremely solid players throughout the years, no U.S. superstar has had international star power. Being half Argentine, Lionel Messi is ranked as the best player in the world and, thus carries name recognition throughout the world. There are many other players from the games past and present who have the same influence.

Since soccer is rapidly growing in popularity, this may change, especially with the rise of 17-year-old American midfielder Christian Pulisic. The soon-to-be 18-year-old currently starts at his respected position of Midfielder for Borussia Dortmund, which is one of the most popular teams in the world out of the Bundesliga, a German league considered as one of the top leagues in the world. Along with a cultural shift and a potential international superstar, soccer will ultimately become a top tier sport in the United States, and possibly become the most watched sport in the country, but only time will tell.