Soccer is a sport that, like the metric system, every other country in this big wide world has fallen in love with but the United States hasn’t. Soccer is also known as association football, and dates back to 1848, but has only been taken seriously in the United States as of the new millennium. Today though, soccer is an Olympic sport with respect to the United States, and there still is no professional soccer league, as opposed to the rest of the world where it is the national sport in many countries. Following are a few reasons why I believe that soccer will never be recognized as a professional sport in the United States.
1. Soccer was codified in England, and as such, is an English sport
Most English sports are rarely taken seriously professionally in the United States. Most people think of English sports as those played by uppity Ivy League students; there is an air of pretentiousness Northeast liberalism to these sports, and they run contrary to the meat and potato all-American sports of Football or ghetto meets the American dream Basketball. They associate Soccer with sports like Rugby or Field Hockey.
2. Soccer is a difficult sport to understand
In soccer, the clock does not tick down and a score of 1-1 is not unusual. There are two periods of 45 minutes each, and an hour and a half soccer game is enough for one to rip their eyes out of their sockets. There are seventeen Laws of The Game, for example, when the ball is out of play the clock continues to run. So the American tradition of turning 2 minutes left in the final quarter into a half hour does not exist in Soccer. The intermission is only 15 minutes.
3. Soccer is not a glamorous sport in the traditional all-American sense
Sure we have David Beckham, but you have to look at the nature of his celebrity to understand why this would not work in America. There is a metrosexual, high-society air to his celebrity, in particular when you look at his wife who was a former singer and now a model and fashion designer. When I was attending a Historically Black College or University that used to have a football team decades ago they had a small soccer team which consisted of everyone that wasn’t playing basketball, the school sport. Those who did sign up for the team were either African or like myself, had perhaps played soccer while attending a private grammar school. The sport just did not attract the same type of individuals.
4. Soccer is “everyone else’s” sport
As I mentioned earlier, soccer is not a sport that attracts the status quo of any social circles in America. Soccer players are not your prototypical all-American “jocks”. The sport is of course extremely physically demanding, and will keep you in great shape, but most would view it as more of a fraternal, social experience. One thing I loved about the sport is regardless of how insignificant your position is you have a split second to make a decision that could make the difference between your team making that point that can prevent you from going into sudden death; you do not want to go into sudden death if you can avoid doing so. In soccer it is an extra 30 minutes, and after 90 minutes of play you are literally ready to kill someone who could have prevented that from happening.
5. We already have a profitable and well entrenched sports industry in America, and soccer challenges that status quo
Other countries who may already use soccer as the national sport may not have this issue but professional sports is such a big deal in America it would be difficult to imagine soccer taken seriously on the professional level without their being some type of fallout. Another variation of professional football, XFL, only lasted one season. As interesting as it would be for us to have some other sport outside of the status quo, it may never happen in this country.