Advanced Students Explore Soccer in the US and Abroad

Advanced 1A students learned about soccer across the globe by reading Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization during our weekly Reading Circle. This sparked interesting topics for debate as we explored how soccer differs in Iran, Italy, and the United States. We also watched Pelada, a documentary that took us on a journey to see pickup games on five continents. While soccer is highly regarded around the world, it has an unusual history and fan base in the United States. Below students share their thoughts on why soccer is less popular here than in other parts of the world – with help from Franklin Foer and Spenser T. Harrison’s “Top Ten Reasons Soccer Isn’t Popular in the United States” Bleacher Report.

Why is soccer out of Americans’ minds?

@ Multiculturalism
The US is one of the countries with the most immigrants. A big part of this group comes from South or Central America where soccer is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. When they move to the US they keep their passion for soccer but they will support their own team, not the American team.

A good example of this is what happened in 2001 when the US national team played Honduras in Washington D.C. Foer explains that although the stadium was packed with excited fans, ironically the majority of people were rooting for Honduras and not for the local team. Besides that, people who were supporting the US weren’t using an American jersey compared with the huge amount of blue jerseys worn by the Hondurans. It seems that the American “hyper nationalism” doesn’t work toward soccer.

@ Business couldn’t catch the flow

Advertisements are a very big issue in sports. Furthermore, in America money plays an important role in developing sports because multinational corporations put a lot of money into sporting events. As a consequence, companies want popular sports to ensure that they are getting the most interest in their ads in return. Nevertheless, soccer is not widely recognized among Americans, so there is less money invested in soccer.

@ Lack of Violence and Gratification

Compared to other favorite American sports such as hockey and American football, in soccer games, the players don’t show their power enough. They play performing their skills, such as ball control and passing, rather than using their strength. It somehow means that the sport doesn’t have the rough enthusiasm connected to violence which is easily shown in American football. All the speed and agility techniques may not be to Americans’ liking. Besides, in terms of goals, generally the players of the game make very few. The goals that they make might not be able to fulfill Americans’ admiration and make them feel the game is monotonous.

@ Passion for winning… or losing?

According to Foer, the soccer team that he joined as a child had a less-competitive and win-oriented atmosphere. Moreover, they gave all their players trophies for a participation, regardless of winning. This atmosphere may have contributed to the lack of passion in American soccer.