As far as its status in the American sports world, the World Cup has a lot in common with the Summer and Winter Olympics. Most Americans only care about Olympic sports whether its swimming, track & field, skiing, speed skating, etc. every fours years. In between each Olympiad these sports completely drop off the American sports radar. The same can be said about the World Cup and that is not changing anytime in the foreseeable future.
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the World Cup for the last week, but lets be honest, there has not been a lot of competition out there. When there were NBA Finals games on last week, World Cup games fell down a notch on the priority list. The U.S. Open would have done the same thing if Martin Kaymer had not run away with the title after the second round. When up against regular season baseball the World Cup is a clear winner but what if the World Cup were played in September when our American gladiator style football season began? You think anyone would be watching the World Cup? Only snockers, a.k.a. soccer snobs.
If they are being honest, non-snockers excited about the World Cup (I include myself in this category) would tell you that it is really the World Cup with its world-wide high stakes tournament and all the spectacle that comes with it that they are excited about, not the game of soccer. That is why when the World Cup is over soccer will fall back to its position as an afterthought American Sport with football, basketball, baseball and even hockey reining supreme.
This is not going to change anytime soon and here is why:
1. The NFL, college football, college basketball, the NBA, Major League Baseball are already very ingrained in American sports society. These sports are American born and bred. Another sport just doesn’t get a seat at the big boy table because the rest of the world thinks it is cool. Since when does America follow the lead of the rest of the world?
2. America’s best athletes do not play soccer. The best up and coming athletes in America play football, basketball or even baseball, they do not play soccer. Hand-eye coordination and the ability to excel at catching and throwing combined with speed and strength is how we measure our athletes. Footwork is important but hand-eye coordination is essential. If LeBron James grew up in Brazil he would probably have played soccer and would be terrorizing World Cup opponents right now, but he was born in Ohio and chose to play basketball and if not that he probably would have played football. Nothing against the athletes on the U.S. soccer team, but if they had shown more athletic prowess with their hands growing up they would be playing a different sport.
3. Almost all the best soccer players in the world play in Europe. Only one player on the Brazilian national team plays professional in Brazil. The rest play on European clubs. American sports fans don’t want to cheer on their best athletes at strange hours and in strange countries. We want things close and in person where we can attend and watch at our convenience. That’s why the super-majority of NFL fans are not in favor of a London based team. We want our star athletes close to us, not on different continents.
4. MLS Soccer is a joke. On the world stage think of the MLS as the Italian professional league in basketball when compared to the NBA. Americans love to boast that their professional sports leagues are the best anywhere in the world. The MLS is clearly not that and so it is treated as the ginger step-child. If the best soccer league in the world is not based in America, Americans are not going to acknowledge it.
Enjoy the World Cup, it has been great. Spain and England (Kentucky & Duke) are set to go home early while Costa Rica (Butler) has already advanced. It’s International Futebol Madness at its finest but sorry all you snockers, after the World Cup is over, soccer in America will once again be forgotten.
Posted by Hatch