Soccer will continue to rise in popularity in the US. Although the game of soccer is the most popular sport on a global basis, it’s ranked well behind football, baseball and basketball in the US but you can definitely see the rise in popularity. There are many factors for this — here’s a few of my thoughts why the game is on the rise:
– for the past two decades, the game of soccer has been played in so many youth leagues throughout the country. It’s inevitable that this will translate into more popularity for the game.
– due to the various serious issues of head injuries and concussions in football, more and more parents will not let their kids play football. Instead, I believe that participation in both soccer and lacrosse will increase significantly. Yes, there are injuries in these sports too but not as many as in football.
– the global soccer teams have smartly been targeting the USA – which is still the most powerful sports market in the world. Many of the top clubs are smart in playing games in the US during their off-seasons. ManU, Chelsea, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Tottenham, Liverpool, etc have all done a good job of creating a bigger fan base in the US.
– the EPL deal on NBC Sports will also have an impact on the rise of soccer in the US. NBC will air every EPL game — across its broadcast, cable and digital networks. I love this deal — for both the EPL and NBC.
– Brazil. This country has the most popular national soccer team in the world. And, with the World Cup being played in Brazil next year and then again in the Olympics in Brazil in ’16, this will surge the popularity of soccer as well as all things Brazilian (soccer, fashion, music, arts, etc).
– the MLS continues to grow in popularity. Cynics complain it’s not on the par of the European leagues but the MLS has been very smart and diligent about controlling expenses. The massive popularity in the NW — Seattle, Portland and Vancouver — is also helping increase attendance and TV ratings figures.
– the game is played in 2 hours. Unlike football games – which can last up to 3.5 hours — and baseball games (especially AL games) which now can take 3 to 3.5 hours to play, the average soccer game is played in a tight, 2-hour timeframe.
– lastly, the US National team. They’re on a hot streak now. Yes, they’re not at the level of Brazil, Germany, Spain, etc. But if they can win a few games in next year’s World Cup — maybe even advance to the quarterfinals — this will have a positive impact on the popularity of soccer in the US.
I could go on but those are just a few thoughts on why soccer will continue to rise in popularity in the US.