Thursday, 26 June 2014

LIFE: America & it's Growing Love for Football - the British Perspective

Being British and watching football pretty much goes hand in hand. It's part of our national heritage and identity even if you hate the sport. Every four years as the World Cup rolls around, our nation dusts off the car flags, buys the beer and thinks perhaps this is the year for brining the cup home. Sadly in reality this is rarely the case. You could argue it was the heat, the team never travels well or whatever else you can think of, but their lackluster performances always leaves you wanting, wishing for more. This year has been no exception and I should probably point out that I was backing the US from the off rather than my home country - I'm not sure what that says about me or my national homeland pride these days but I'm rolling with it all the same.

In coming to the US, I moved from a country which has so much national pride in it's team it's like a religion, to America - a nation that's only now really working out what the fuss is all about when it comes to the game. With a win and a draw, hopes are running high for today's game against Germany, will the US succeed where England failed? Will they get the chance to go beyond the group stages?

Football as a sport, and as a sport to watch across the US has been growing in popularity in the last couple of decades. While it might be played by kids in school, it's up against the big national sports (American football, ice hockey, basketball and baseball games) for attention and participation especially at university and therefore, professional levels. Furthermore, for some reason, perhaps this is a Detroit news thing, reporters - Pat Cupto in particular seems to make it his mission to dismiss American's interest in football as just being a World Cup thing, that American football is the only proper football to be watching yet alone playing. 

Thing is, it's not, attitudes are changing.

American residents purchased 200,000 World Cup tickets, second only to Brazil. Bars are packed for games, Americans themselves rather than purely expats from football loving countries are coming out and lending their support. Since the US hosted the 1994 World Cup, and the creation of the Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1993, more and more Americans are tuning in to watch football teams, regardless of the country playing. As a result, US soccer teams, are growing a fan base.

Nevertheless, European football leagues, particularly games from the Premier League teams draw in the biggest American audiences. Yet with 70 millions supposed soccer fans here in the country, MLS teams are battling to catch more of the limelight. In the US, top league football is played in the MLS which comprises of 3 Canadian teams and 16 from the US, divided again into the Eastern and Western conferences. But like the UK there are minor leagues, and our local Detroit City FC founded only in 2012, can be found in the 4th tier of the soccer pyramid.

Detroit City FC Source.

While reporters like Cupto would have you believe that soccer loving in the US was and only will ever be a World Cup fad and that's is too much of an un-American sport to ever get behind, he's wrong. If the growth in the sports popularity in the last two decades is anything to do by, the sport will only continue to grow, be that through star players or TV audience figures. 

Football/soccer may not be an American expression of national identity like to many in the UK, but as any sport it can bring people together. Whether it's right or wrong to get you're hopes up about the fortunes, or indeed misfortunes of the England team, it's refreshing to experience a country slowly, but surely getting behind it's football team, and i'm sure we can all get behind that.

What's your take on football? How to you rate USA's chances against Germany?


  1. So first of all, and let me be struck by lightening for saying this, but I think that Germany is going to crush the US.
    Second, I think Americans developed this huge pride in their own 'football' (aka grown men throwing around a pig skin while ramming into each other...whaaa?) and so to allow a foreign concept of 'football' just seemed silly. HOWEVER I've found that 'soccer' has been becoming more popular in the United States as well. Maybe we're finally catching up to the bandwagon, maybe we've decided to suck it up and admit that yes, 'soccer' is a pretty awesome sport, maybe we just want to be a part of something...I can definitely see soccer catching up to basketball and American football in the near future!
    ~ Samantha

    1. Well there was no crushing but I think both teams were looking tired in today's game, I think the humidity and tiredness was starting to show a little especially by the end of the match. But the US certainly held their own today that's for sure. I think you're right, I think it's come a long way in the last 20 ears to get to this point and of course there's always going to be the haters but, as American already loves sport I think there's room for another one!

  2. I'm Mexican so of course I grew up with soccer around me too. When I was in school no one but the Mexicans seemed to be interested in the world cup or soccer at all, and since I'm not in school anymore I have no idea if that's changed. But the world cup has been talked about a lot during E! News which normally just talks about celebrity gossip... so, I thought that was pretty cool. I'm pretty sure one day soccer is going to be just as big as American football is here in the USA! I've lived here all my life and for some reason I never cheer for the USA to win... lol! I always root for Mexico!! :)


    1. That's interesting to hear that it's being mentioned on the celebrity shows, I guess that shows they think or they have at least an audience interested enough in soccer to report it!

  3. I definietly have seen a growing interest over the years and honestly think it will continue. I know every where around me was packed today for the game.

  4. Football is a weird one for me because I deep down hate it. I don't have a problem with the sport so much as I have a problem with the fans. I've had waaaaay too many terrible interactions with drunk, rowdy, leery football fans and it's soured my feelings toward the whole sport. There's just too many of them. It's not the odd drunk. It's huge swaths in the UK.

    I've never much bothered with the World Cup but that's likely to do with being Scottish as much as it is my hatred of the sport (I like other sports!) we're never involved so I have no reason to get excited!

    Sorcha x Bright Field Notes

  5. Hi there! What an interesting post! I never really knew the American take on footie! To be honest, I really don't like football and the hype about it but I am interested in the background and all the speculation and the jingoism it creates!

    Anyway, lovely to meet you, I popped over from Sophie's post to say hi!x

  6. I know nothing about football tbh. My dad used to watch it when we were kids but I never really felt interested in it. therefore my comment is pointless and I shall move along now :(