The World Cup is arguably the world’s largest sporting event and some would say carries more importance than the Olympic Games.
But why is it not a big deal in the United States?
For 15-20 years now, soccer has tried to make its way into the front-row of sporting attractions in the U.S. It’s a difficult battle, especially when the NHL and NBA at times have fallen out of favor sitting with the NFL and Major League Baseball. Then, you sort of have musical chairs with the PGA Tour trying to grab a seat during the majors or whenever Tiger Woods makes headlines.
Is soccer boring? The argument comes from the 35+ generation that had limited exposure to soccer. Myself, I flipped the channels 30 years ago and stopped when I ran across an old soccer highlights program each week.
Most people say golf is boring to watch on TV, too. I guess the point is, you have to really respect the players and their abilities, so the same could be said about soccer.
Brandi Chastain’s shootout goal and subsequent jersey-to-sports bra transition years ago created a massive wave of soccer interest, but even that wake subsided rather quickly.
If soccer lacks a certain offensive appeal (people love to see goals), I don’t believe that’s the fix, either. I doubt a 13-8 match would generate any more interest, and obviously indoor soccer played in NHL rinks had a more intense environment, but that didn’t catch on either.
Perhaps the sports biggest problem is star power. From Pele to David Beckham, there just isn’t that all important position in soccer where on player can absolutely dominate and go on routine 3 to 4 goal a game tears, thus the sport, from an individual player standpoint, lacks that independent headline grabber to compete against the Joe Mauers and Derek Jeter’s of the U.S. sports landscape.
But for the ultimate team game, soccer is the king. It’s just unfortunate the U.S. has yet to anoint it.