Soccer in the USA

Why is it that we are the only country that finds no interest in this sport? It is the international past-time and yet we (the US) are dragged kicking and screaming into its ranks. Is it that we don’t give it enough respect during it’s developmental years, mainly the way we are teaching our children the sport? Something tells me that the way we are doing it now is no good. We need better teachers/coaches and more general public interest so that we can step up an compete on the world level. Personally I think we have all the potential in the world to be the best int he sport, but for some reason we shun it here. Why is that??


Why the slappy face? Why is this such a pressing concern? We have our sports, the rest of the world can have theirs. I feel that American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey are all much more interesting than soccer.

And yes, if we had the passion other countries do about this, the US would dominate on the level of Brasil. But we don’t. So what?

So we isolate ourselves.

Soccer is a way for all countries to come together and compete in good sportsmanship. It would be a way for the US to relate with the rest of the world and visa versa. We need soccer so we can begin to communicate with the rest of the world on a level not involving war or trade but rather sporting enjoyment. Something in addition to the Olympics mind you.

We already enter the World Cup. And send players off to UEFA and the English leagues.

And soccer is just entertainment. Just like any other sport. I see no reason to change the sports we like to something we see as inferior.

Bill Shankly 1913-1981
Being someone who used to sleep, eat and breath football and who still plays for a 5-a-side team I have never understood why the US’s resistance to the beautiful game. It is a sport that is easy to play but hard to master and IMHO has more nuances and allows players to show more creativity than any other sport. I think part of this attitude is the attachement to the various ‘American Sports’ (though with the exception of basketball they are all actually based on British sports) and their deep embedment in US culture.

I would say it would be possible for the US to become the number one team, but it would take 30-40 years after soccer becoming the no.1 US sport in order to establish a solid football tradition.

I agree with your post except for the 30-40 year bit. The US has been playing soccer for quite a while, but dismayingly half-heartedly. I think I would cut that time in half.
As far as other US sports what other countries really play the major ones? Basketball, not really, baseball, not really, football, not really. And as MC said it’s one of the easiest sports to get started with, you only need a ball! No hoops, goal posts, diamond fields, or ice rinks ( not to mention all the equipment used by the players in the various sports). In short I’d say it’s the people’s sport; simple and deep.

Can you do somehting like this with any other sport?

As a baseball fan, I’d have a lot of gall calling any other sport boring.

But soccer bores the snot right outta me.

Probably my ignorance of the sport talking, but since I’ve only ever found one sport that I have an enduring passion for, I rather doubt I’d ever find anything remarkable about soccer.

The real question: Why does it matter?


I think it matters for the children. To aspire to a sport played the world over and to see that despite cultural differences one can always relate on the soccer pitch. I just feel that soccer has a more unifying worldly quality than the sports played mainly her ein the states.

No it does take a long time to get a footballing tradition established, taking Turkey as a casestudy, they’re have a very large population and are also one of the most passionate nations about football (the two main ingredients needed for a suceesful national team) yet though there star has been in the ascendency since the early eighties (I remember at this time England beat them 8-0 and 9-0) the are yet to become one of the ‘contenders’ in international football (don’t let their recent semi-final appearnce in the world cup fool you that was more from the fact that they only played one team of any calibre - Brazil who beat them twice). It takes along time to get a firm footballing tradition established in a country if the US decided to tommorrow that football was their national obsession it would take them about 30 years to lift their mediocre national team to the level of Brazil, France et al.

The thing is, soccer is probably the most popular sport that kids play in the US until High School/College. Then it fades. There really isn’t room in the sports season (Baseball/Basketball/Football; with Hockey thrown in there) for another major profesional sport.

It also takes personalities to drive a sport. I bet Julie could get into soccer if she got interested in some of the players. All sports are like that.

I’m not sure I understand the OP.

Are you asking why soccer isn’t popular here as a spectator sport? Because it is. Manchester United is in the middle of a preseason tour here in the States and is playing to sold-out stadiums. World Cup 94 also played to huge crowds.

Are you asking why we’re no good at it? 'Cuz we are. Quarterfinalists in World Cup 2002–that’s top 8 in the world; numerous players in Europe’s highest leagues (although they tend to be goalkeepers).

Or are you asking why we don’t play it? We do; it’s probably the most popular kid’s sport in terms of numbers of participants here in the States.
I hardly think we’re the only country where it is not the number one sport; Australia, Canada, and India come to mind. I think that fans of the sport here in the States get it from both ends: from other Americans who cop an attitude about something they consider foreign and boring, and soccer fans from abroad who cop an attitude about our inferior talent and enthusiasm.

The current standardbearer for American soccer is Major League Soccer, which is in only its eighth season and hasn’t yet gained a lot of traction in the American sporting consciousness. Marketing mistakes and bad play when it first launched and a dependence on too few owners created a kind of credibility deficit in the public’s mind.

However, MLS is developing talent (Manchester United just bought the contract of Metrostars keeper Tim Howard) and putting down roots (there’s a beautiful new stadium in LA built just for the Galaxy, and more are on the way in Chicago, New Jersey, and Dallas). So ask this question again in five years, and we’ll see how things stand.

P.S. I haven’t touched on women’s soccer, because the OP didn’t seem to be asking about that, but we are the world leaders there–defending World Cup champions and home of the leading women’s league in the world, the WUSA.

You don’t shun it at all. What is it now, the second most participated in sport ?

We’ve discussed this before and my view is that people are sheep, if you put pigeon racing on national teevee for 10 hours a week (or however long those three main sports are), then people would follow pigeon racing.

The issue in the US, IMHO, is that important and powerful people have decades of vested interests in baseball, US football and basketball - they’re going to shut out world football as long as contractually possible. And then they have to try strong-arm tactics because they can’t survive if world football starts taking up advertising/sports time on US national teevee.

It’s a cartel playing for the highest stakes. You won’t get to see world football on national teevee for a long time and the US won’t develop as a football power at the rate it could.

Having said that, I was listening to an interview only last night with one of the US’94 team and he was saying a decade ago, the pool of US players capable of international level football was about 15, now it’s over 100 . … .

Ooooh. Dueling quotes:

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

  • James Earl Jones

“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game–the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous dyspeptic set. Repair these losses and be a blessing to us.”

  • Walt Whitman

Because people like Turin keep trying to push it on us. We don’t like it unless we can get our nationalist fervor up for the World Cup. Plus I find it funny people call it the beautiful game. It’s quite boring, although that might be just the era it is being played. Much like ice hockey with it’s new emphasis on traps or basketball with the superior defense and emphasis on half court offenses being played in the US. It can make it very boring.

Right. IYHO. IMHO, ice hockey, basketball and American football have just as many and allow just as much creativity. Baseball has far more nuances and is far more beautiful.

As for the attachment to the various American sports. Duh. It’s the same reason other sports are popular wherever. Attachment and embedment in culture.
I would say it would be possible for the US to become the number one team, but it would take 30-40 years after soccer becoming the no.1 US sport in order to establish a solid football tradition. **

Nope, it would take half that time. Just need the first generation to grow up and begin dominating.

Well, I used to watch football some. Got bored with it.

My husband is completely hooked on college basketball. I watch it with him, trying hard to hide how much I’ve grown to hate the stupid sport (it just annoys me having a “team” sport where one player can turn a mediocre team into a great one).

Volleyball! That’s a great sport, though my opportunities for watching it aren’t many.

Perhaps I could get into soccer if I tried. (though it hasn’t worked with basketball). But why would I try? I have a sport I’m passionate about and it’s hard enough following 30 teams through 162 games.


Here’s my favorite:

Julie (having her heart broken every fall since 1971)

Soccer bores (some) Americans because it’s possible to have long stretches where nothing eventful happens – the idea that you can go for 40 minutes without a single goal being scored, or fifteen minutes without a goal attempt being made, bugs folks with short attention spans. Contrast that with baseball and football and hockey and soccer, where scoring opportunities come far more often, which keeps the audience’s attention.

Soccer was great for my kids. In fact, it’s great for any kid who is short, or skinny, or stocky, or perhaps not the super athlete that we seem to drive our kids to be in some cases. Soccer made sports an even playing field for my boys, who could compete with the best of them. I still enjoy watching it on TV, although I prefer it live, and used to go every Sunday in Guatemala and cheer for the “home” team.

I’m not sure why it isn’t as popular in the US as elsewhere. Perhaps I shouldn’t speculate on the grunting, violent, overly-macho nature of many of our national pastimes, but soccer is seldom violent (the fans aside).

Billy Shankly

Albert Camus

Yes, I see football is growing in the US, though that quarter final’s appearnce was probably an overacheivment (that said by beating portugal they earnt it), it’s just a case of changing attitudes so it’s seen as a ‘professional sport’ rather than something that kids play.

Doubtful. There’s a lot of overlap. Philip Anschutz owns 7 of the 10 MLS teams. He also owns the Los Angeles Lakers ice-hockey team, and has a 25% share in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. The Columbus franchise is owned by Lamar Hunt, who also owns the NFL’s Kansas City team. The New England franchise is owned by Robert Kraft, who also owns the NFL’s New England team.

Just out of curiosity, how are the owners of the other professional sports shutting out soccer in this country? MLS games are regularly televised. Maybe you should think of another theory because this one is just ridiculous. Soccer hasn’t taken hold in this country because most Americans find it less interesting than baseball, basketball, American football, etc. That’s it.

It isn’t possible that soccer could just be boring for people without it being some sort of reflection on their brains?

I’ve got a pretty long attention span. I read things like The Faerie Queene and The Iliad for fun. While doing so, I really enjoy listening to baseball on the radio.

Maybe basketball could be enjoyable if you have a short attention span. Football is a convenient sport because of the natural breaks in the action. But most sports, and this is a sports mad nation, take attention and persistence to appreciate.