12 June 2014

CallingItAsISeeIT: Really? That is why soccer is not popular in US?

There is a very interesting – and that is the most generous adjective I could come up with – analysis of why soccer is not popular here in US. Apparently, the problem is there are too many “draws”. And the solution suggested is to have judges giving points for every 15 minutes of play.

I have not followed soccer in a long time and am an avid NFL and College Football guy now. With that, let me say the following:

1. Soccer in the rest of the world is doing fine, thank you. They do not need any boost from us in terms of popularity.

2. I thought we used to complain about East Bloc judges and the whole system how gymnastics point system worked in the Olympics. I thought we do not believe the ref on the (American) football field and want to rely on the objective way of replay technologies. Why this change of heart and reliance on three judges?

3. The funniest part? TIME calls the world soccer body “insular” to changes of rules. Of course, we, who are throwing stones at other glass houses are the same ones that cannot put in my simple drug testing rules in our national sport or summarily dismiss who use epithets on people who unfortunately were born with the “wrong” skin color.

4. At some point of time, we have to understand that here, in this country, it is all about money. Nothing wrong about it. Money drives glamor and popularity and that drives what kids want to do. Btw, the recent rise of cricket’s popularity and India’s seizing the center stage from the traditional owners – England, is a great study of how money drives popularity.

5. So, who in this country drives that money? It is not the spectators. It is the advertisers!!!

6. And there is a lot of advertising in a (American) football game. A football is “live” for about 12 minutes in a game that lasts for 3 hours. Imagine the ad time on TV or in the stadium. Look at the time between pitches in baseball. And the interruptions in baseball.

7. I am rusted, but as I recollect, soccer is a lot more continuous and free flowing game. The ball is “live” for almost all the 90 minutes. (Other than half time). That is a nightmare scenario for me as a TV advertiser.

8. Till we have figured out how to stop the soccer game every time somebody has received a ball, I do not see much money in the game.

We are good at what we do but let’s leave them alone and let them play their own game. Sucks that it happens to be world’s most popular sport. But what do we care? If we can get one team from Canada to participate in our game, we can call our series the “World Series”. We do not need the rest of the world to call it World Cup. And frankly speaking, they do not need our help. They are doing fine.

Now let me get back to my off season trade analysis for the Falcons đŸ™‚

Posted June 12, 2014 by Rajib Roy in category "Musings


  1. By Vijay Ramchandran on

    Sounds like a bunch of people with little or no knowledge of the sport came up with some revolutionary ideas. Wonder which consulting firm they came from.

  2. By Mark Yablonski on

    US loves winners. It will take the US winning the World Cup to gain same level of interest in the sport. The US women did it, and football remains one of the most popular sports among women in US. The real challenge is that for the guy athletes, they chase the money and fame – that’s our football, baseball and basketball. As for baseball, keep in mind just how many world wide athletes participate in the sport: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_Major_League_Baseball_players_by_nationality. While all the clubs are in based in North America, I would say World Series indeed. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the world center of football Europe? Do not most of the world wide elite players belong to their clubs?

  3. By Ananda Rakhit on

    Baseball is popular in Japan, Korea and in Central America. It happens to be that the big clubs are in the US. For that matter Cricket tournaments are also called by terms like World T20. Having said that those who complain about lack of scoring in futbol miss the point. Watching soccer is like listening to a pianist play the piano. There may be a high note or two or may be not. But you enjoy the music anyway …

  4. By Jonathan Strommen on

    The issue with soccer is the dives and faked injuries to get a call. If the penalty for blatantly faking was minutes off the field, or allowing more substitutions and forcing those who are “injured” to get off the field for 15 minutes it’d fix the issue of integrity in the game.

    In the nfl a downed player has to leave the field for a down or the team needs to use a timeout. Need a similar strategy in futbol

  5. By Rajib Roy on

    Mark , most of the rest of the world call something World Cup because of the number of countries that participate. I doubt they go around checking nationalities if team members to decide whether to call it World Cup

  6. By Rajib Roy on

    Jonathan , the issue of faked injuries and drama is an issue. It is a recent thing. However that is completely tangential to thd TIME article. In other words, that is not the real reason why soccer is not popular in our country

  7. By Milind Mehere on

    In the spirit of Calling It As I see it and irking many soccer lovers, Soccer is not popular in US is because it slow and boring compared to the big 4 sports here. Statistically speaking average goals scored per game stands at 2.6, assuming 30 seconds set up time, it mounts to 1.5 minutes of excitement per 90 minutes! And unlike the low scoring but very fast paced NHL where avg shots per game is 60, in soccer it is 25. I grew up watching soccer in the era of Maradona, Gary Linekar, Lothar Matthaus, Zidine, Rudy Gullitt, Platini etc but it’s just doesn’t cut it compared to the excitement of big 4 US sports. It is not a good spectator sports for an average sports lover. My Indian friends frequently complain about how boring baseball is, yet it is so statistically and strategically driven sports with lot of factors impacting the outcome. Yes MLB can clearly cut the season in half. Sports here is optimized for advertising, Home/TV viewing, and also live stadium experience (tail gating, catching up with friends and family) and each sport has developed their own traditions. Clearly FIFA doesn’t need more fans it is the most popular sport in the world but perhaps it can get motivated from crickets IPL.

  8. By Sibapriya Dasgupta on

    Your analytical observations and suggestions to popularise the sport in the U.S only proves that at heart you are still a Bengali having graduated from “street football”( not futbol , please !) to spending sleepless nights watching World Cup Football and star Diego Maradona scoring that “Hand of God “goal from your hostel common room, trying to shout down your hostelmate supporting soccer giant Brazil, you just cannot quite get over it however much you may try ! And who cares if one or two countries remain aloof ?Long live football, the game of the masses!!!

  9. By Vijay Ramchandran on

    Milind – I think tradition and culture have a lot to do with it, or golf wouldn’t be so popular. Nascar fans will call their sport fast and exciting, while I cannot make it through a race without sleeping or switching the channel. I love the excitement of the NBA, NFL, NHL but when it comes to the most memorable sports moments for me, it’s India’s cricket world cups (for obvious reasons) and Maradona’s 86 goal from the half line. The Manning/Brady 2 minute drills and Reggie Miller comebacks were more exciting but not as memorable.

  10. By Mark Yablonski on

    Rajib I have no issue with any athletic event being called ‘World xxx’ as long as the elite of the sport from the world are playing. Whether that is represented by nationality or club really doesn’t matter.


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