Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

Every few years or so the United States becomes interested in soccer. It usually happens around the time of the World Cup or the Summer Olympics. This excitement usually last a few weeks or until the US National team gets eliminated. Whichever comes first.

The latest outbreak of Soccer Fever ended a few weeks ago when the US Women’s team lost to Japan in the final of the Women’s World Cup.  They were a really great story, too. Every game seemed to go down to the wire and the US battled back to win and advance to the final game. Even the Final went into extra time and wound up coming down to penalty kicks to decide the champion. (And that is something that I have always had a problem with. I don’t think the biggest game in the world should come down to penalty kicks. It’s like deciding the World Series with a Home Run Derby.)

With the NFL and NBA both experiencing lockouts there hasn’t been a whole lot of sports news to report so I have been watching more soccer than usual. Wednesday night I watched Chivas play Real Madrid. The game was nationally televised from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was a big deal to have two world class teams play on US soil. During the game the announcers noted that Chivas was founded in 1906 and Real Madrid was founded in 1902. Together that is over 200 years of soccer history and tradition. By comparison, Major League Soccer (MLS) didn’t have its first season in the US until 1996.

And that is the main obstacle for soccer in the US; we just don’t have the history with the game. All of our most popular sports (football, baseball and basketball) have long histories in the United States. And they were all invented here. They are our sports. Soccer will always be seen as a foreign game.  Or worse, European.  It’s an image that soccer will have to shake if it is ever to become popular in the States.

It’s going to have to start with the kids. Most kids in the US play multiple sports but soccer is rarely one of them.  If more kids start playing soccer at a young age they will grow up to be fans and watch soccer as they get older. The demand for soccer has to be built naturally. It may take a few generations of kids but there will be a time when announcer will be talking about the traditions and history of the L.A. Galaxy or the Seattle Sounders.

Soccer will become more popular in the United States. It might not happen in my lifetime but it will happen. It’s just going to take time.