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The Silver Lining is the Future
USA Today, June 24th, 2006 4:46PM



USA Today tries to take some positives out of the U.S.'s failure in Germany. For one thing, Americans are watching this tournament in record numbers: about 5 million viewers saw the U.S. tie Italy; that's more than those households watching baseball on a typical Saturday. While MLS struggles in the ratings, the World Cup's numbers are approaching those of the Olympics, another of those sporting events that people largely ignore until the next one four years later. Even if that's all the attention soccer's getting, it's a heck of a lot more than before: twenty year's ago, Americans were barely aware the World Cup even existed. To be sure, the technology revolution has a lot to do with its new-found visibility. The Internet and satellite television have made it so the high-profile soccer leagues around the world are accessible to just about anyone. That, combined with many Americans' own experiences with youth soccer, have continued to help grow the game's visibility. Sure, soccer is still too low-scoring for many critics around the country, but it's the kind of game where, perhaps more than other sports, once you "get it, you're in." So the sport should continue to gain popularity. As for the Americans, they will only get better. As the audience gets bigger, and the global game does too, so will interest and participation in the U.S. Make no mistake about it: globalization, that great American export, is the driving force behind soccer. And any economist will tell you that it's only a matter of time before that extends here.

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