Soccer’s Popularity in the US

Soccer pitch photoIn Germany, where I was born, soccer is the best, biggest, and most exciting sport. In Germany, fans pour into the streets when their favorite team wins the cup, and head to the bar when their favorite team loses. In Germany, we live and die with soccer.

In Germany, soccer is king.

In Europe, we watch soccer day in and day out. We watch it year round, catching a glimpse here and there just to fulfill what has become almost an addiction to the greatest sport in the world.

In Europe as a whole, soccer is king.

And every two years (every four if you prefer one gender’s cup over the other’s), the world gets together to watch the World Cup. It’s the peak of soccer achievement. It lets us band together as a country to cheer on our home-grown players. When the World Cup is on, the sports world stands still, eyes locked to the TV for fear that if we look away for just a moment we might miss Clint Dempsey scoring the fastest goal in US World Cup history.

For the world, soccer is king.

But not in America. In America, you might be hard-pressed to find someone who prefers soccer to say, football, baseball or basketball. In America, soccer is a meager third or fourth, depending on who you ask.

But that could be changing, and for good reason. There’s no sense in debating over the opinions that surround soccer–that it’s too slow, too low scoring, shown too infrequently on TV or too simple to catch on here–instead, we’ll look at the facts.

Soccer, known also as “football” or “futbol” across the world, is the most popular sport on Earth, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans. And while it may lag behind some others in the United States right now, studies by the Wall Street Journal indicate it may be gaining ground quickly.

Soccer is one of the the most popular sports among the cohort that will be the next generation of athletes, according to the Huffington Post. Among those 12 to 17 years old, only basketball is more popular. This could point to a complete resurgence in the sport’s popularity here in America after baseball, basketball and hockey have fought their way to the top.

So who do we have to thank for this? I think a good part of the recent spike in popularity (which will hopefully remain sustained) is due to the recent success of both the men’s and women’s national teams of the United States. It was reported by USA Today that during the Copa America, the USMNT gained more and more viewers with every win. Similarly, the USWNT’s World Cup victory not only inspired the nation, but inspired a nation of women, who were shown first-hand that not only could they be just as good as men, they could be better.

Right now, soccer remains on the outside of the top three or four sports in the United States, behind the big four of baseball, basketball, hockey and football. But it seems as though finally, soccer may be getting its time in the spotlight.


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Bjorn Koch is a businessman, world traveler, lover of fine dining and soccer fanatic. Born in Germany, where he fell in love with Bayern Munich, Bjorn currently resides in Boston, MA.