“Nothing can help me care about soccer. Oh, ‘it’s the most popular sport in the world.’ Probably because it’s cheap to play. It costs a ball. Once every four years, America pretends to care about it. And yes, I call it ’soccer.’ Don’t correct me because I don’t care what they call it in other lands — I speak America. Sorry world, we already have football and it’s way better. It’s supposed to be played by 300 pound men eight seconds at a time, not five-foot, six-inch fairies lightly jogging for three hours, or however long your game is…buy a scoreboard! It’s hard for me to get into a sport that I mastered at the age of seven. Excuse me for not being able to get revved up for this corner kick that never works. Hooray! The game ends without a single goal”. Daniel Tosh.
He is one of America’s top comedians and if we were to be honest, has pretty much nailed how the game is perceived in the US. He is also factually correct…on one thing. Soccer is indeed the most popular sport in the world, and with 250 million players in over 200 countries, not even the most sarcastic undertones can deny this fact.
But here we are in America, the world’s sporting epicenter, seeing the sport trail behind NFL, MLB, the NBA and NHL. How is this so?
Firstly we need to accept that soccer isn’t the biggest sport in this country. This isn’t Europe or South America and it never will be. There, I said it. Someone had to. But so what if the sport hasn’t fully realized its potential – it’s about acknowledging there is potential there and finding the ways to achieve it. Trust us, this won’t happen overnight; neither will it happen at all if the attitude taken by soccer fans is the one that Daniel Tosh mocked so openly on his TV show.
What we need is to rally around some achievable goals, goals that use the untapped resource that is our fans, players, armchair pundits and soccer moms in such a way, in which they come together as one and help create a cultural change that will happen – not overnight – but in time. A movement, not unlike that seen in politics, where these individuals are organized to help drive the game at a grassroots level, improving the standard of players, the sustainability of our junior clubs and attracting new revenue streams for the MLS that (currently) only the ‘big four’ can dare to demand.
In the past 5 years, U.S. Soccer, especially the MLS, has continued to grow. Crowds and TV revenue has increased, the league has seen a strong period of expansion and genuine world class players have decided to join the country’s premier competition. This is progress but not the level our fans are crying out for.
With close to 25 million players in the country (and over 2.5 million supporters of the sport on Facebook alone), we theoretically have around 25 million potential ambassadors to take up the fight of growing the game into a serious domestic force. And we are sure there would be nothing more satisfying for FIFA than seeing the game explode here in the U.S.
So how can this be achieved we hear you ask? What we need is a unifying goal for everybody to get behind. One that inspires us. One that we can achieve together. This is about the sport we love and every one of us having the opportunity to help achieve these goals. We are happy to announce that these goals are close to being a reality and that change we all seek is just around the corner.
We hope this article has whetted your appetite for more and you spread this rallying call far and wide, because in early 2012 a line in the sand will be drawn and the ‘big four’ better take notice. Soccer is coming for you!
In the meantime if you’re interested to find out what it is we are planning please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.