Does soccer in the U.S. still suffer from an inferiority complex compared to other American sports? When will the country’s many soccer-haters finally be reformed? And when will the purported U.S. soccer boom that’s supposed to follow American success at the World Cup actually happen? Well, according to the Seattle Times’ Larry Stone, “the boom has already happened.” In fact: “Soccer has infiltrated its way into the American sporting consciousness to such an extent that it doesn’t need to be validated, or accelerated, by a spectacle like the World Cup,” he hypothesizes.
Stone cites the sport’s steady evolution -- including the formation and growth of Major League Soccer as well as the formation and growth of USA and club fan groups -- as evidence that it has already become mainstream. He adds that the rise of the Internet and social media has helped foster a sense of community among these groups, particularly younger fans, who through platforms like Twitter and Facebook have been able to forge an accessibility, and connection, to their favorite teams and players.
He also credits EA Sports’ wildly popular video game franchise, FIFA, as having a particularly big impact on young soccer players and enthusiasts. “I wouldn’t underestimate the impact that game has,” Stones says, citing his FIFA-crazed 14-year-old son as evidence.
According to Stone, soccer is alive and well in the U.S., so much so that once the World Cup hype fades, “soccer will remain what it was before the tournament: A formidable presence in America.”
Point taken, but let it not be lost on readers that Stone is writing for the Seattle Times, and as we know, the Seattle Sounders regularly top the MLS attendance charts by a vast distance, so he may be (at least to a certain extent) preaching to the choir.