It’s been such a great ride, this World Cup. We still have two matches left to consume, but the TV ratings have been through the roof, and the buzz for soccer has never been stronger around the United States.
Now comes the hard part. The battle begins anew very shortly.
If we want to see this country become a soccer nation, it’s not going to happen with a bunch of one-off articles in Forbes or the New York Post. It’s not going to happen with World Cup TV commercials like the one from Kia that claims that soccer only matters once every four years. And I also don’t believe it moves forward when sites like Deadspin segregate soccer into a completely separate entity called Screamer. How does that break down the walls?
The truth is, I’m not sure how it’s going to happen.
I had a debate recently with a soccer reporter about this. Sometimes I unfairly target the media with this notion that they conveniently carve out soccer into this niche box, never to commingle with the popular sports of the time. He had a point in this. It’s poor business to give soccer any more than it deserves. If you’re running a site tied to sponsors, are you really going to stick your neck out and potentially lose viewers or readers — especially when you have big contracts with the Big 4 Sports? I’d have to say, “No” is the realistic (and unfortunate) answer.
So it seems that it comes down to us, the soccer-loving public.
One thing is certain for soccer lovers in America. During the World Cup, we’re united behind the Red, White, and Blue. During the remaining 3 years and 10+ months, we’re anywhere in the continuum from non-World Cup apathy to hardcore European soccer fans to hardcore American soccer fans, and everything in between.
We have to engage on how to bring this all together more often. Typically we get caught up in the angst of roster rules and salary caps and promotion/relegation. Those are important topics, but they are also stumbling blocks on the road to getting soccer off of Page 6 of the Sports Section (if it’s in there at all).
The fractures in this soccer universe are real, but they are also conditioned. For instance, the fact I use “soccer” grates at certain people from the get-go. I call it football as well, but these are semantics. It’s the same sport.