Why 'Some Americans' Don't Like Soccer (Part 3 of 4)

Homer SimpsonCorrespondent IAugust 27, 2010


Over the years, I've heard various reasons why "some Americans" don't like soccer. Here are my collective rebuttals to some of the arguments.

Note: I'm only saying "some" and not generalising because I know many Americans do like soccer. And this article is in no way an underhand dig at America or its sports, of which I am also a fan. You can refer back to Part One and Part Two of this article

Many of the reasons why "some Americans" don't like soccer actually exist in their own US-based sports


14) Sceptics say the game of soccer is forced upon USA TV viewers by unscrupulous TV networks with a hidden agenda. Complaining that ESPN, FOX etc  are "pushing" soccer onto you? If it’s being shown, you could just change the channel to something else! The reason it's being shown at all is because some America households like it. Remember, ESPN wouldn't do this unless they could make $$$ out of it. Economics 101, supply & demand. They are showing a lot of it (or as "soccer haters" would say, "shoving it down my throat") because the demand is out there in America. Remember an estimated 24.3 million Americans watched the 2010 WC final...those figures hold up well when compared to the other major American sports. The only time since 1998 that 25 million people watched an NBA Finals was June 2010, when a reported 28.2 million saw Game 7 of the Lakers-Celtics series. It’s been six years since 25 million people watched a World Series game, when the Boston Red Sox ended their 86-year title drought with a Game 4 win in 2004. An estimated 8.28 million people watched Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last month, which was reportedly the highest-rated NHL game since 1974. Its millions more than watched the Kentucky Derby or the final round of the Masters Golf tournament or the Daytona 500, the jewel in NASCAR’s crown. Note that the USA v. Algeria game created the second most amount of Internet traffic ever.

15) Sceptics say soccer will never be as popular as the NHL, MLB, NBA or the NFL. Now "never" is a very strong word. What "soccer haters" really mean is "in the next x years"....but they would never say this as it’s not as dramatic. To use the word "never" means you are saying that the American sports culture will be static forever. In essence you are saying that the America culture itself will remain static. This is absurd. With the changing demographics of the USA, there is no reason as to why soccer can't grow (see viewing figures from previous point as reference). If growth continues then there is no reason why soccer could not get parity with the NHL first, the MLB, then NBA & eventually NFL. Compared with its established rivals, soccer is ill suited to TV exploitation by the networks (due to its flowing nature), but as ESPN showed this won't matter if it comes down to raw numbers.

16) Sceptics say the USA soccer team will not get any US fans as they lose too often... America only like "winners"! Well, neglecting the fact about record viewing figures from the 2010 WC, the idea that American's only like winners is a myth. Sure, winning is important, but it doesn't mean a sports man or team that loose aren't watched by the US public. Tennis is a popular US sport, yet only Andy Roddick at #9 is in the current (July 2010) top 10 list of players. There’s only two more Americans in the top 20 at #19 & #20. In Golf, Tiger is #1, but 6 of the remaining top 10 are not US players. And since the Ryder Cup has become US vs Europe, Europe has won more tournaments. Americans don't like it when foreigners do something better than they can, but you don't hear about "golf haters", or "tennis haters" do you? And the USA doesn't always top the medals table at the summer Olympics, yet they aren't called "losers".

17) Sceptics say if the USA gave more resources (athletes, money and time) to soccer, the USA would "rule the world". Well, the US is the richest country in the world...& lots of resources do go towards Tennis & Golf players for example. Yet as stated, this alone doesn't mean the US Golf & Tennis fraternity dominate their fields all the time as shown in the previous item. There is also a big difference between Tennis/Golf & soccer. The former is a sport that requires some money for equipment to play. As soccer doesn't need this outlay, money doesn't become a factor in taking up the sport. And because money isn't a factor, those from poorer countries in the South-American, African & Asian continents can take up the sport and hone their skills. Sure, money brings better diet, training etc, but these players will get that if they move to professional clubs in Europe when they are teenagers. I'm sure every team USA player had a better upbringing than their equivalents in the Ghana team that beat them, yet many of those in the Ghana team signed for European clubs to complete their soccer education in their teenage years. Hence the USA could throw more money at soccer, but it’s no guarantee that they would dominate if they did.

18) Sceptics say America didn't invent soccer which is why it’s not popular. A lame excuse because other than basketball, the sports the USA "created" are direct off-shoots of established European sports. Baseball is basically a form of cricket. Football is rugby with breaks. Golf is Scottish. Automobile racing is European. James Naismith a Canadian invented Basketball. All of these sports are popular in the USA, so the argument about invention is absurd.

19) Sceptics say there isn't enough contact which is why American's don't like it. Americans love violence, and soccer doesn't provide the same level of constant violence and danger as our other popular sports, but using this as an argument is flawed. American's also like non-contact sports such as Basketball, Tennis and Golf. And if sheer violence in sports is the determining fact, surely Rugby which is basically American football without the amour would be popular?

20) Sceptics say America TV could never embrace soccer because it lacks the advertising space available in US sports. Soccer's continuous, almost uninterrupted flow of action denies it a steady supply of intervals for the advertising of beer, Viagra and fast food. After years of games interrupted by commercials, US fans have had their attention spans reduced to just a few minutes (if that). There are no natural breaks in a game of soccer apart from the half time. Yes, there are fewer opportunities for adverts, but that shouldn't stop the growth of soccer. There’s a reason ESPN have bought the rights for the WC, EPL, UEFA Champions League...DEMAND. As long as fans will watch, networks can make money on adverts somehow. Also, if advertising and breaks were important to US networks, Cricket, a game with more breaks than almost any other, would have been pushed by US networks in America, which hasn't been the case.

Continue to (the last) points 21 to 26 of this article.

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