As the soccer hangover post World Cup 2018 comes to an end, we delve into a new season of the beautiful game. Prominent European clubs have traveled to the United States, to compete in friendly games hosted around the country. One might wonder, why this sudden change has occurred in the mentality of people to embrace it more. Why haven’t the most popular sport in the world found a platform to succeed previously in the U.S.? To answer these questions, one needs to get down to the nitty-gritty of the mentality of sports in America and its citizens.
The United States has always done things differently than the rest of the world. As the whole world embraces the metric system, the U.S. proudly uses the imperial system for quantitative measurement. In the field of sports as well, it has given more attention to football, basketball, and baseball – while soccer was considered a sport played by colonizers and the countries they colonized. Indeed, the initial decision to kick soccer from the mainstream was a result of intense nationalism and pride, and a thirst to indulge in separate activities from the rest of the world.
Second of all, the concept of soccer as ‘the beautiful game’ was lost in America. The love of high contact sports, like football and ice hockey, was immense among its citizens. They didn’t particularly enjoy the fact that soccer players went to ground at the slightest of touches, or simulated a dive to win a penalty. Instead, they enjoyed watching sports in which the chances of getting injured were significantly higher.
Baseball became the darling sports of the United States in the 1920’s, thanks to the New York Yankees and their star player, Babe Ruth. America saw baseball as a wholesome entertainment. The sporadically spaced innings gave them the perfect amount of time to indulge in food and snacks, and it perfectly suited an outing with the family. Soccer, with its 45 minutes halves, was lost on the nation. The playing time of an American sport lasts less than half of the total experience – giving companies a chance to broadcast their advertisements and other entertainments in between.
The past couple of decade, however, has seen the nation starting to embrace soccer. An advent of good players, mostly immigrants bearing soccer playing genes, have contributed to the rise of the Major Soccer League (MLS) in the country. This has resulted in the U.S. Soccer team consistently qualify in the World Cups. MLS has also managed to bring in celebrity soccer players from Europe to add interest in the sport.
It’s unlikely that the popularity of sports like football and baseball will reduce any time soon, deeming soccer to be the sport they only watch once in four years when they qualify for the World Cup. The global success of the U.S. women’s soccer team might also not be sufficient enough to change the mentality of a million people, who particularly enjoy the occasional breaks in other games. Nonetheless, investments in MLS have seen a surge over the past couple of years and is a definite indication that more Americans are slowly beginning to embrace the beautiful game.