Soccer: Why It Can’t Make The Essay, Research Paper
Soccer: Why It Can’t Make the Big Time in the U.S.A.
Soccer or football (or foosball or futbol), as the rest of the world outside the United States calls it is surely the most popular sport in the world. Every four years, the world championship of soccer, the World Cup, is watched by literally billions all over the world, beating out the United States professional football’s Super bowl by far. It is estimated that 1.7 billion television viewers watched the World Cup final between France and Brazil in July of 1998. But although soccer has become an important sport in the American sports scene, it will never make inroads into the hearts and markets of American sports the way that football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and even tennis and golf have done. There is one major reason for this.
Recently the New England Revolution beat the Tampa Bay Mutiny in a game played during a horrid rainstorm. Nearly 5000 fans showed up, which shows that soccer is, indeed, popular in the United States. However, the story of the game was buried near the back of the newspaper’s sports section, and there was certainly no television coverage. In fact, the biggest reason for soccer’s failure as a mass appeal sport in the United States is that it does not conform easily to the demands of television. Basketball succeeds enormously in America because it regularly schedules what it calls “television time-outs” as well as the time-outs that the teams themselves call to re-group, not to mention half-times and, on the professional level, quarter breaks. Those time-outs in the action are ideally made for television commercials. And television coverage is the lifeblood of American sports. Anyone who has attended a live football game knows how commercial time-outs slow the game and sometimes, at its most exciting moments, disrupt the flow of events. There is no serious objection, however, because without television, football knows that it simply wouldn’t remain in the homes and hearts of Americans. Also, without those advertising dollars, the teams could not afford the sky-high salaries of their high-priced superstars.
Soccer, on the other hand, except for its half-time break, has no time-outs; except for half-time, it is constant run, run, run, run, back and forth, back and forth, relentlessly, with only a few seconds of relaxation when a goal is scored, and that can happen seldom, sometimes never. The best that commercial television coverage can hope for is an injury time-out, and in soccer that happens only with decapitation or disembowelment.
Soccer is a great sport and it certainly deserves the increased attention and popularity it is getting on all levels. But primarily, again, because it does not lend itself to television it will never make it big in the United States the way these other sports have, not until it changes some of its fundamental strategies.