Sports can often be an odd thing, especially when it comes popularity. Looking at it from a distance, you would think that sports such as football and basketball have always been a staple of American culture. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Up until the 1980’s the NBA was viewed via tape delay and as recently as 20 years ago it was baseball, not football that was the number one sport.
The developments in U.S sport over recent times has been phenomenal, but what about soccer? It was declared that soccer had officially landed in the U.S after the 1994 World Cup. Fans began to recognise the players, develop an affiliation to the game and shortly after the tournament had finished MLS was formed. It seemed as though soccer was going to become one of the big sports. However, it wasn’t quite that simple.
In order to sustainably grow a sport what you need is interest from young people. Initially it was hard to tell if the U.S had this, but now it seems like we’ve finally cracked it. The MLS is becoming evermore popular – more people watch it, and more people are betting on it. In fact, bettingexpert tipsters are offering tips on various MLS matches. But just how is it that soccer has finally risen to be such a popular sport?
Youth interest & participation
Wall street journal claim that uptake for participation in youth soccer is double that of football and that there are now over 1 million more children in the U.S playing soccer than baseball. This increase in youth interest and participation can only be good news for soccer. The kids playing the game today will be the ones who go on to drive the sport forward in the future.
U.S soccer is finally at a point where it’s able to go head to head with those in Europe. The ESPN Wide of World Sports facility in Florida and the Overland Park Complex in Kansas are widely considered the two best soccer campuses in the country.
Other top class facilities exist across multiple states, which gives aspiring players a fair chance of improving to a level that will allow them to potentially compete on the biggest stage. These fantastic facilities also create a sense of buzz around the sport and give people the belief that there is something special to get involved in.
There’s no understating the power of advertising in sport. To put it into context the 2015 Women’s World Cup generated over $40 million in revenue for Fox through advertising opportunities. This is more than revenue than was generated from either the World Series or the NBA finals. Yes, the fact that the tournament was held in the U.S would have had an impact, but this also shows that advertisers believe that that soccer has a huge following.
As soccer continues to make its mark in the U.S it’s likely that other sports may suffer. We’ve already seen a major decline in youth participation in baseball and softball; however it remains to be seen if this trend will continue. However, with the improvements in facilities and general interest in soccer seemingly booming, it doesn’t as if another World Cup hosted in the U.S is too far away.