Interesting Conversation

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Major League Soccer, US Soccer

I’m taking an undergraduate course at the university this semester for personal growth and interest.  The class is called “Sports in Society” and it explores the relationship between athletics and the social structure and culture.

Today we were discussing the controversy of sport.  Each student was supposed to pick a topic that they felt was an issue of discussion in modern society and pick a stance to defend.  Through the conversations we had in class it came up that soccer was not viewed as a serious sport in the United States.  I kept my mouth shut since I didn’t want this to become a debate on what soccer is and is not.  But the instructor called on me to voice my opinion as a soccer fan.

The issue being discussed was revenue and TV rights, and of course soccer is not rated as one of the more popular sports in our society, but I feel it is growing (see my post “Is Soccer Growing in the US”).  As the discussion grew I felt that soccer was viewed by most of the class as a not only a second-rate sport, but not even something to be considered seriously as a market in the USA.

Well, when someone asks me what my opinion is then I feel that I am obligated to share it.  However in this setting I didn’t see it as doing much good.   pulled out a few of my statistics, but the fact is soccer in the USA is one of the fastest growing elements in the sports market.  Increased viewership on television and the MLS passing up the NBA and NHL for highest average attendance to become the new #3 sport in the USA behind football and baseball with 17,000+ fans for every home game.  I discussed the fact that American Football would not even come close to generating income in the rest of the world outside of the USA and Canada compared to the revenue generate soccer.

It doesn’t surprise me that people still feel this way about my sport, but it bothers me that we are so slow in breaking down the labels and presuppositions our country has about this beautiful sport.

So my question to the readers is this, what do you do to help change this?

  1. ponchat says:

    Who’s teaching the class?

    But, I understand why the students are saying it. That’s rural America. I am sure there are the same that say it in metro/urban America, but it won’t be with the same tenacity that rural America usually downplays the impact that soccer has and plays on society today.

    Most of the time, the people with these views are not cultured and don’t get out much. We have the same problems here, in rural Ohio — even though, we were second (or third) in the conference in attendance (was first for most of the year).

    Things are changing. In 5-10 years, soccer may be the number two sport. I don’t see it every surpassing football, but that’s alright. People will see the beauty in it. We just have to continue moving in the right direction — if we are doing that, if not, we have to change some things (i.e., Wynalda). It’ll continue being more and more popular.

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