Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Soccer Really Won't Work In America

Now the pundits want to discuss the impact the 2010 World Cup will have on the future of soccer in the United States. Some think this will start to take off and the sport will flourish. Others think that we'll just go back to our daily lives and not care again.

I think the latter will happen.

I do think soccer will get a slight up-tick (more on that later). But soccer will never be very meaningful in this country. It wasn't after Pele joined the American pro leagues. It wasn't after the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup. It won't be now.

The difference is that here, the best athletes don't play soccer. In nearly every other country, the best athletes are pushed into soccer and that is the sport everyone is dying to play. In the U.S., the best athletes want to play basketball, football or baseball. Soccer picks up only the diehards.

Imagine if guys like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Adrian Peterson, Joe Mauer, Jimmy Rollins, Dwyane Wade and Chris Johnson played soccer instead of their respective sports. The Americans would field a team with so much athleticsm and (probably) skill that we'd be among the elite in the world soccer community. Those guys won't play soccer, though, so we don't have to worry about that.

The one thing soccer could have going for it is if they decide to reach out to the inner cities and latch on to the growing Hispanic communities out there. It would still be hard to get kids growing up in America to play soccer no matter their nationality, but you'd have a better chance going after kids whose parents grew up loving the game. Outside of that, I don't see soccer exploding here for a long, long time.

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