Monday, January 9, 2017
Soccer’s Growing Popularity in America
Birmingham, Alabama, resident Ramon Arias serves as president of a successful pizza franchise. Outside of work, Ramon Arias engages in soccer as both a participant and supporter of youth programs.
Considered the world’s most popular sport, soccer (more popularly known as football outside of the United States) does not have the same status in the United States. However, the game’s popularity has been growing. Data from US Youth Soccer shows that in 1974 there were only 103,432 registered US youth soccer players. Since then the general trend has been on the rise, with 3,055,148 registered US youth soccer players in 2014.
A 2014 ESPN poll showed that professional soccer ranked only behind professional football as the most popular sport among youths aged 12 to 17. Yet this popularity is not only confined to youth. Nielsen reported that 24.3 million US television viewers watched the 2010 World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain, a higher total than for either the NCAA men’s championship or the Rose Bowl.
Close to folding in 2001, Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional soccer league in the US, now has 20 teams and is planning to expand to 28 teams. While still having its struggles, another positive sign is its 2015 TV deal with various networks valued at $720 million for eight years. MLS is now broadcast in 140 countries, indicating a growth for American soccer both at home and abroad.