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Soccer: the "other" football's growing status in America
Around the world, the well-loved game of football is played with a round black and white ball. In the United States, however, soccer (the American term for this international game) is trumped by American football. Soccer is making a comeback as an American sport, though.
Major league soccer, started a little over 10 years ago, already has fourteen professional teams. That is only two less than either of the football conferences. Most of the teams are located in the East and Southwest regions of the U.S. There is talk of forming teams in other regions of the country, but it is being met with resistance from people who think that soccer is overrated.
Practically every schoolchild in America learns to play soccer as part of the physical education curriculum. Most high schools have both a boys' and girls' soccer team. There are almost as many colleges with soccer teams as with football or baseball teams. So, why is there so much resistance to professional soccer teams?
First of all, soccer and football are generally played in the same season. There are summer soccer leagues, but it is most often a fall sport. The reason that football and baseball games are so well-attended is that they are played in opposite seasons. Fans of football can go to baseball games, and vice versa. Soccer fans have to choose between watching soccer and watching football during the same season. For games on tv, this can be solved by recording the game and watching it later. Most fans, however, like to watch their favorite teams live. This creates conflict. As football is considered more of a mainstream sport, it often wins fans over soccer if they have to choose which game to attend.
Secondly, since most of the soccer teams are located in certain regions of the U.S., if a fan from the Northwest, Southeast, or Midwest (with the exception of Chicago) wants to attend a game in person, they need to travel a long distance to get there, spend more money on hotel and gas than they do on a ticket, and usually take time off from work. These are all major drawbacks, especially in this economy.
Die-hard soccer fans will still watch soccer on tv if they have a cable channel that shows it, or go to a local bar to watch their team. If that is not an option, or even if it is, they will go cheer on their local college soccer team.
If there were more venues for professional soccer in America, these fans would turn out in droves to cheer the new teams on. The games could be scheduled so there would not be conflicts with major football games in the regions, which would allow football fans the opportunity to come to a soccer game or two to see how they like it. Considering how well-followed international soccer/football is, giving it a chance in more regions of America makes sense.