Spain wins World Cup, but not TV; Soccer from a soccer mom view

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Would soccer catch on in the U.S if our TV screens were bigger? Maybe so, but I still doubt it. Twenty-two — until you start tossing them out for misbehavior  — guys kicking a tiny ball up and down a field at warp speed without even the excitement of racking up a goal in regulation so you can stop and catch your breath, or a commercial break so you can go to the bathroom, I’m just not sure soccer will ever make it in America. Of course, your TV screen is probably bigger than ours, which is OK. On the giant screens at bars and coffee shops all along San Francisco’s Fillmore Street Sunday there was an awful lot of hoopla. There may have been some business for the restaurant owners, but it looked like a great deal more hooping and hollering than drinking.

It is safe to say that this space has been into soccer longer than any other T/S space. Dating, actually, from the day that #1 son came home from hanging out at some local playground circa 1968, and we said, “You’ve been doing what? A round, black-&-white ball you just kick? Soccer moms had not yet been invented, but this one was, at that moment. Three kids, a combined total of about 36 years at a minimum of 2 or 3 games per week; you do the math. The in-house soccer dad coached so many of them that he and his co-coach had to coach the local high school coach, who had never heard of soccer until then either. But our scruffy, inner city team beat the hoity-toity suburban high school for the state title in 1970-something (it’s all a blur) so it was certainly worth it.

Pro soccer, though, that’s another whole deal. By now every kid in the U.S. has kicked around a soccer ball, half of them are addicts, and still they grow up to be non-fans. Go figure. I think it boils down to the screen size, the warp speed and the lack of bathroom commercial time.

And it’s too bad. The primary emotion I recall from about a century-worth of soccer-game watching was empathy: everybody felt sorry for the goalie’s mom. Didn’t matter if your team scored the goal, you still felt sorry for the goalie’s mom.

The world needs a little more empathy. Meanwhile this space has to quit typing and send condolences to our good friends in Amsterdam.


  1. I think that America is just used to turn based sports. In our football, you play offense, then you play defense. Baseball you hit, then you field. Hockey works because of the higher scoring and smaller playing area. You can’t truly understand how amazing professional Soccer is until you spend a couple years trying the sport yourself. From playing soccer for about 14 years now, watching the World Cup is poetry in motion (cliche I know, but true).

  2. I think this is a generational thing. In that, your generation is the only one asking this question now. 😛

    I’m an Xer with a large group of Xer friends that all enjoy soccer from casual to fanatic like myself. Those of us that love the sport are long past the point of caring whether it will ever catch on here, because for all intents and purposes, it has. I can watch dozens of EPL games a year on FSC and now ESPN, which has made a huge commitment to the sport in the last two years, including an incredibly well produced World Cup telecast from South Africa. If I want even more, I can subscribe to GolTV or Setanta and watch the Spanish and other lesser known leagues. If I want to catch a good quality game locally, I can head to one of the 16 (soon to be 18) MLS franchises, but if I live in Seattle or Toronto I probably won’t get tickets because they sell out every single game. Otherwise, I’ll just have to catch the games on FSC or DirectKick.

    The numbers don’t lie. If there was no market for the game here, we wouldn’t have a professional league nearing 20 years in existence. We wouldn’t have cable networks devoted entirely to the sport. We wouldn’t, as a country, have sold the largest number of tickets to games in South Africa, blowing away every other country except the host. We wouldn’t have the largest broadcaster of sports in the world shelling out huge amounts of $ for top-notch broadcasting talent and production.

    Fewer of these articles get written every four years because the people that write them (almost exclusively age 50 or older) are increasingly irrelevant. Soccer will likely never become one of the top four sports in the USA, but who cares? I’m about as big a soccer fanatic as is possible to be here and I don’t. I’ve got everything I need to be a happy and contented fan.

  3. I wonder whether it is not more about the psychological aspects that the game is having a hard time getting accepted. Football is about a much more individual (300 lb) effort to knock someone out; soccer is much more about community – working together as a team, preferably without violence.

  4. living in australia i sometimes wonder if football will take off here with rugby union’ rugby league’ and australian football all bigger sports but when the world cup rolls around you see how big football is and how small all the other codes are..there is no real world cup for the other codes where every country in the world is trying to football is the biggest game in the world even if some places refuse to accept that. sort of like religious people refusing to accept that non-believers are in the majority in the world

    1. …or baseball’s World Series that somehow overlooks places in the world where baseball is played other than in the U.S…. or is it? The sports business seems to be a world unto itself.

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