Stop the soccer boom articles
Tim Staub | Wednesday, April 14, 2010
It’s time for the world’s greatest sporting event: the FIFA World Cup. This quadrennial 32-team tournament pits some of the best footballing countries against one another to determine which country gets lift the most prestigious trophy in sports. I remember waking up in the early hours in 2002 to watch the USA take on Mexico and feeling elated when the stars and stripes came through. I remember watching America be one of two teams to score against the eventual world champions Italy in 2006. Now we reach 2010 and I am ready for another thriller of international soccer. But what’s this? I suddenly see mainstream newspapers, television networks and magazines covering soccer like it’s their job. They are all proclaiming soccer is about to take off in the USA! Or can we win the cup?
First, there is no way USA will win the cup. Even a diehard would be willing to admit it. We are not there yet. It is the former point that I wish to address. As reliable as the World Cup comes every four years, as does the articles regarding soccer and America. It’s a socially intriguing and conflict-creating topic. Soccer has long been here, starting with the first organized match: Rutgers-Princeton on Nov. 6, 1869. It grew to be the winter sport paralleling baseball (being that most clubs were owned by baseball owners) and became the second most popular professional sport in America. Then a combination of the Great Depression and petty politics killed it until the birth of the North American Soccer League in the late 60s. This is where we see the articles regarding the return of soccer to America and how it will boom. Rather than embrace soccer they expected soccer to suddenly and magically transform them into fans and they’d comprehend every little thing done on the pitch. This never happened and thus people never gave soccer a fighting chance. So every time someone would write: Here Comes Soccer, this group would laugh and say: “I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.” What they fail to take into account is that soccer has grown in leaps and bounds since the writers started saying soccer is going to be big.
Twenty years ago you would be lucky to get an English match on TV, now there are four to five live matches every weekend and some even during the week (North London Derby 3 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN2). Some of you weren’t even born when USA qualified for World Cup 1990. It was the first time in 40 years that USA qualified. Now the USA is in its fifth straight World Cup and has 10 times the talent of that 1990 squad. I could go on and on of how MLS is currently outdrawing the NBA and NHL or that soccer is the most participated in sport, but that avoids the point. These articles about how soccer is about to catch on do nothing but avoid history and the truth that soccer was here and is here. It doesn’t need a magical boom to make it popular when it already is. But I will be ready; with 59 days until the World Cup, I’ll take the crazy articles with little research, just in order to get to the Cup.