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Why Soccer Is The Perfect Sport For The Internet Age

Photo by Will Lion

The convergence of social media, broadband technology and HD transmissions means that soccer, more than any other sport, is perfect for this Internet age. It’s a sport that’s 24/7, 365 days of the year. It’s unlike any other pastime.

Due to soccer’s popularity worldwide, a day doesn’t go by when there isn’t a game being played somewhere in the world. The Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga are just a few of the leagues that are played from August through May. There are leagues who play through the summer such as Major League Soccer. Plus there are pre-season friendly tours which typically begin in July, as well as a plentitude of friendlies and international tournaments to fill up the calendar.

Contrast that with other major sports, and you’ll notice big holes in their calendars:

  • National Football League: September through early to the first week in February,
  • National Basketball Association: October through April,
  • National Hockey League: October through April,
  • Major League Baseball: April through October,
  • College football: September through January.

What this means is that many of the major sports in the United States are dormant. NFL is dormant for seven months of the year, NBA, MLB and NHL for five months, while college football is only played for five of the 12 months of the year.

Looking at the calendar year, the European soccer calendar is often quiet in June and July. But this summer we have Copa America (and for soccer fans in CONCACAF, the Gold Cup). Next summer we have the Euro 2012 tournament. In 2013, it’ll be the Confederations Cup. And in 2014, it’ll be the next World Cup. The calendar constantly is kept busy even during times of the year when you would think that the sport would grind to a halt.

Even during the hours or days when soccer games are not prevalent, the constant chatter among soccer fans on social media and the Internet about the sport and their favorite teams is deafening. While there’s a ton of action on the pitch, there’s even more that happens off the pitch whether it’s the discussion, drama, gossip, transfer news or analysis of the beautiful game.

In a day and age where sports fans seem to be more passionate about their favorite pastime than ever before, soccer is the one that delivers the greatest quantity consistently throughout the year.

There’s also the benefit of the game being just 90 minutes and action-packed with no commercial breaks (other than half-time), unlike other major sports.

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  1. jleau

    April 13, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Interesting article Gaffer. I think your on to something but there are two sides to this coin. I really love that soccer is always on and the scope is so big. However, for me, it tends to crowd other sports out. I always temendously missed American football come March, but baseball was there in April to fill the void. It’s different and a nice change of pace. I can see both points.

    You shouldn’t crack on the guy about FIBA basketball ratings. Ratings for soccer in America for anything but World Cup are pathetic by almost any measure. An audience of 700K can hardly compete with cooking, fishing, or Spongebob reruns. Comparing soccer to international basketball ratings is akin to bragging about being the world’s tallest midget.

  2. Jason

    April 12, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I agree with Patrick that things are better in moderation. More people watch and follow football in this country than any of the other sports because it is a short season.

  3. MattLeTiss

    April 12, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Problem with the NFL (and American sports in general) however is that once you realize you aren’t going to make the playoffs (after about a month for a lot of NFL teams) what’s the point of the season? There isn’t one and so interest dwindles again and teams play to half empty stadiums and utterly disinterested fans. The regular season in any American sport is pointless enough but when it’s quite clear you aren’t going to have even a chance of the playoffs it just makes the whole season a complete and utter waste of everybody’s time. At least promotion/relegation and domestic/other cup competitions keep most teams interested well into the season in some form or another.

    Up The Saints!

  4. Patrick Dresslar

    April 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    A major point is lost in all this. Our most popular sport in this country is football, and we have a true football SEASON. It adds to the excitement that the NFL is off for roughly 6-7 months because when it comes back around it ushers in a thrilling part of the year. Nothing beats it.

    Things are better in moderation, and I love that American football is not 12 months a year. It would lead to burnout. It’s like the first few months of a relationship…you can’t see her everyday, it would end things before they start. You can’t have your favorite meal everyday. You gotta spread it out. And who hasn’t ruined their favorite song by overplaying it?

    Maybe it is just me, but I like having true sport seasons in the US. The anticipation just adds to the overall intrigue.

  5. Lenny

    April 12, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    The sheer volume of football matches available online has spurred my interest over the years. Over the years I’ve evolved from a non-fan, to casual fan, to EPL club supporter, to MLS club season ticket holder due in no small part to the availability of matches online. Sadly, most of those have been pirated streams, but those – along with blogs like EPL Talk and Viper’s Nest – have fueled my interest and increased my spending on the game. At a recent Red Bulls match I spent all of halftime on Twitter, seeing what others at the match and watching at home were writing.

    The internet has brought the global game to a wider, more inclusive audience, and I, for one, am grateful.

  6. Ricardo

    April 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Great article Gaffer. With the rise of social media and other internet outlets, soccer has definitely been in the rise – especially in the USA. Twitter and Facebook helped increase the number of fans rooting for the USA during this past World Cup. People who would tend to not care about The Stars and Stripes were going to their local bar to root for them!

  7. Terry

    April 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Gaffer, you have some of your dates wrong. For instance, the NBA regular season ends in April but the playoffs and finals which is the most important part of the season doesn’t end till June. But your point is well taken that there’s more soccer to follow year-round than any other sport. The 2.5 months off in the summer for the European leagues is a little too long for me and would like to see the Champions League and Europa League qualifying games begin the first week in July. Maybe even have more teams from the EPL, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga enter the qualifying round to make it more interesting. I cannot get enough of soccer and would welcome competitive games in July rather than just friendlies.

  8. IanCranonsKnees

    April 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Football in December and January in the UK is what it’s all about Ben. Cannot beat a Boxing Day fixture home or away. The 2-3 months off in the summer suits me fine.

  9. Ben

    April 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I am a huge EPL fan but like every other sports I need a pause, watching soccer in december and january doesn’t do it for me, this is exactly what I hate about soccer, it never end, it loose credibility…

  10. Pakapala

    April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I take great pleasure in following soccer. I enjoy the constant action year around indeed… but there’s a very big flaw in your article Gaffer: you talk about the other sports as if they are represented by 1 league. It’s like saying soccer is EPL only. The other sports (with maybe the exception of gridiron football) have games all year round too. As a fan of basketball, I follow the NBA, the Euroleague, the NCAA, the FIBA America and the FIBA World Championship. I am not a fan of ice hockey so I would not know how fans of that sport follow the sport around the world, but I suspect NHL is not the only ice hockey league and tournament.

    Also why do people (Gaffer is not the first) like to separate NFL from NCAA football as if they’re 2 different sports?

    • The Gaffer

      April 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Pakapala, I didn’t realize there were people (no offense) that followed basketball leagues from around the world. What are the viewing numbers like for those?

      The Gaffer

      • Pakapala

        April 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm

        I don’t quite really know what the numbers are on viewership. I am not a ratings guy really and considering that ESPN mostly show those international games on their web service, and we get the odd Euroleague game of the week on NBA TV, I doubt the ratings are anything really significant. I have to say as scarce as it is, it is an improvement in coverage of international basket here in the States though it’s still a loooong way from real interest. I will try to see what the coverage and ratings will be like for the FIBA America and European Championships coming up this summer.

  11. John L

    April 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Also if you are counting friendlies then you need to count the preseason for other sports. That means hockey goes from September till June. But yes soccer does go the whole year. As soon as EPL is done I have my hometown NPSL team starting and that goes to mid-July.

  12. Sean

    April 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Not that this takes away from the main point of your piece but, the NBA and NHL do not end their playoffs until the middle of June.

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