The debate about whether soccer has “made it” in America is one that has been going on for decades. Since hosting the World Cup in 1994, the popularity of the sport in this country has steadily risen year after year. Personally I don’t believe it will ever become the most popular sport in this country. I’d be happy with it giving the NFL a run for its money, but the tidal wave of support that soccer has gotten in this country during the 2014 World Cup has been a joy to see. The thing that strikes me as being a big difference from this World Cup compared to others though has been the interest from casual fans outside of Team USA.
Typically, like the Olympics, you’ll get the people that will tune in to just our country’s matches and then be done with it. But things are different this year. People are watching and following these games every single day. It’s obviously helped that this has been hands down one of the most entertaining group stages in years, but it’s still worth mentioning that, for the most part, people have been generally excited by nearly every game of this World Cup.
But it’s not just the viewing numbers, the social media interactions or the packed bars that are leading me to proclaim that soccer is really making an impact in this country this year. If you’ve scrolled through Twitter or various news sites during the World Cup, you’ve probably been unfortunate enough to see something that truly confirms that soccer is making people sit up and take notice. I’m talking about the American political blogospheres all-out assault on soccer that has taken place throughout this World Cup. Now, as a soccer fan, I’m used to the crotchety old sports columnist talking about how soccer is bad because it’s boring, there isn’t enough scoring, you can’t even use your hands, etc. We’re at a point where pretty much everybody knows that those are just cheap column inches used to pander to a now ever dwindling section of the sports world that is vehemently against soccer.
When will the people who sit behind their cushy desks vomit words about how awful our political system is and how our country is going to hell in a hand basket on a regular basis sit up and take notice? Now you’ve made it. After forcing myself to read through several of these pieces, I’ve loosened the noose I had thrown around my ceiling fan for a second and decided that it’s time to hit back. There are a few recurring themes that I’ve noticed through a lot of these articles and I will get to them below, but it should be noted that these people know absolutely nothing about sports. They’re casual fans at best and really only pop up when their target audience has something to say about whatever sport is going on at the moment. When a sport that nobody cares about gets political bloggers to sit up and take notice, that’s when that sport has truly made it to the big time. So let’s go ahead and see how soccer is going to put America on the fast track to becoming big in the USA!