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Time to Admit it, America Loves Soccer

Scott Olson, Getty Images

Some have a hard time accepting it, but the numbers don’t lie.

America loves soccer.

For years, the anti-soccer crowd has come up with lists of reasons explaining why Americans don’t love soccer.

The usual complaints of low scores and “boring” games have gotten tired, so it’s on to some new ones.

The adoption of soccer terms by American fans seems to be one of the new favorites: field vs. pitch, jersey vs. kit, soccer vs. football, etc.

That last one really seems to strike a nerve.

Newsday even argues that watching the World Cup is un-American:

Friends, we are in the majority.

I know it does not feel that way in bars and on certain swaths of the Internet. Even the Google Doodle has gotten in on the action.

But We Americans Who Do Not Care About The World Cup are in the majority, and we must cling tightly to that fact.

Tongue-in-cheek?

Maybe. But the idea that soccer is bad because it is un-American is real to some.

Others theorize that “once a particular countries sports fans’ conscience is occupied by a sport that is seen as their “national” pastime, there is a diminished capacity for interest in additional sports.” 

There isn’t room for another sport in America?

I’ve got news. There IS room for another sport and that sport is soccer.

Soccer’s slow, steady growth in the United States has continued for over two decades and it shows no signs of ending.

The ratings of the United States/Ghana World Cup match on June 16 show that growth.

Over 11 million viewers watched the game on ESPN, plus another 4.8 million on Univision. Compare that to the average audience of 16.5 million people for ESPN’s five BCS bowl games in 2014.

This isn’t the first time soccer has gotten a big TV audience.

In 2010, the ratings of the World Cup final did more than hold it’s own against Major League Baseball and the NBA.

The 2010 Spain/Netherlands World Cup final had 24.3 million viewers.

Also in 2010, the fifth and final game of the World Series drew 15 million viewers and Game 7 of the Lakers/Celtics NBA Finals was watched by 28 million.

Imagine if the U.S. had made the World Cup final?

Some feel that the U.S. advancing deep into the World Cup is a laughable thought as the U.S. has a “bad” team.

That’s a separate debate and one I welcome. We’ll get the answer in the days and weeks to come, but the debate over whether America loves soccer is already over.

Follow Matt Milhouse on Facebook and Twitter.  Listen to 100.5 The River weekdays, 10 a.m.– 3 p.m.

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