Soccer: America's Favorite Pas(sed Up)Time

Norton High School senior Dan Rafuse discusses how American's thrive on sports, but still have not quite caught on to futbol.

By Dan Rafuse

This past Wednesday, a pair of friends and I were offered free tickets to attend the New England Revolution versus Columbus Crew Major League Soccer match at Gillette Stadium. As a Boston sports fanatic, I consider myself very lucky for having attended numerous professional sporting events. Up until Wednesday, I had never attended a professional soccer game before, so I was not too sure what to expect. I was surprisingly pleased, yet oddly disappointed with the experience.

For starters, the only type of soccer I am entirely familiar with is the EPL, or English Premiere League. The EPL has some of the best players and teams in the world. Typically, with the best teams come the best fan bases. England is home to some of the most rabid fans on the planet for any sport. The fans simply live and breathe for their teams. America is quite different when it comes to how they support their teams. In the case of the MLS, it seemed as if their fans were nearly extinct. Gillette Stadium’s 68,756 seats were filled with only an estimated 2,500 patrons. The cotton candy hawker asked my friends and I if we wanted to buy a snack 10 times. Nothing was being sold, so no revenue was being produced, and the game was eerily quiet for a professional sports event, which bothered me a tad.

However, I still found the game itself entirely enjoyable. The play was fast paced, the talent was decent, and the goals were certainly more exciting than any homerun or touchdown because of their rarity. By the time the game had subsided, I was completely satisfied with the action I had witnessed. My satisfaction led me to a question I still have yet to answer. Why haven’t Americans figured it out yet?

Americans have yet to solve the game of futbol (soccer). We have yet to benefit from it, unlike nearly every other sport. America, the greatest country in the world, receives billions of dollars in athletics revenue every year from nearly every major sport. The NFL produces more money than any sport in the world. The NBA is on the rise. The MLB provides us America’s favorite pastime. We even stole hockey from the Canadians and created the NHL; but we just cannot conquer soccer.

Any ideas on why that is? Leave a comment.

Gerald Kimber White September 10, 2012 at 07:34 PM
There are several reasons but I'd say the biggest reason is that owners/investors haven't figured out how to make television rights for soccer as profitable in the U.S. as they are for football, baseball, etc. Soccer doesn't have time-outs or all the other reasons other sports have to stop the game and insert a few 30-second ads. A typical NFL game of four 15-minute quarters takes three hours to broadcast - that's a lot of advertising. A typical MLS game of two 45 minute halves takes two hours to broadcast - that doesn't leave a lot of time for advertising. Without the profit motive, owners/investors haven't marketed soccer nearly as much as they have the other sports. That being said, each year soccer seems to be getting bigger and bigger in the U.S. by sheer force of the fans' enthusiasm alone. Hopefully, the owners/investors will understand that soccer is different than those other sports, recognize that it is the biggest sport in the world, and take a page from the organizations and companies that have figured out how to profit handsomely from it. Until then, soccer will be limited by the same thing that has killed many other great products and services - poor marketing.


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