Over the past few weeks, there have been parties and gatherings throughout the country and television ratings have soared to new heights. For soccer, of all things.
As the American team played through the preliminary bracket round with a 1-1-1 record — good enough to advance into the so-called knockout round of 16, where a loss sends a team home — fan interest just blossomed. Estimates even have about 25 million Americans who watched the USA game against Portugal on June 22.
Soccer in the United States has been a sport a lot of people grew up playing, but then seemingly forgot about when they reached adulthood. Professional soccer leagues here have never been all that popular — and the sport MIGHT be No. 4 behind football, baseball and basketball, though hockey probably knocks it to No. 5 at best.
But despite the fact that the World Cup sparks plenty of interest every four years, it’s hardly an interest in the sport of soccer — or futball, as it’s known around the world. Instead, the interest is in the American team competing. Once they are out, as they are now, viewership wanes dramatically.
It’s quite similar to how this country generates interest in our Olympic teams, whether it be bobsledding, skating or any other competition.
Soccer enthusiasts should by now realize that interest in the sport will never approach that of the “Big Three” (or four) among this country’s adults. It may have plenty of room to grow in scholastic and recreation leagues, but beyond that, it’s just not going to generate the popularity that World-Cup ratings seem to tease us with.
Watching the efforts of the American team, especially those of netminder Tim Howard, was similar to watching the 1980 American hockey Olympic team. But just ask any bandwagon World-Cup watcher who they want to win the World Cup this year. Now that the Americans are out, many may not even be able to name another country still playing.
That makes the score: American team 1, sport of soccer nil.