Home > Specific Industry Trends > The Juggernaut of Soccer

The Juggernaut of Soccer

By: Ritchie Jay Coggins

The industry I wish to discuss in this blog is that of sports.  The big trend developing in this U.S. industry that I can discern emerging in this sphere is the strong interest in soccer.

Soccerball with USA flag

Image via Wikipedia

Frankly, soccer or football has been the world sport for eons, but recently soccer has become more and more popular in the United States.  Ironically, just as popular American football has 11 team players on the field at one time, so does soccer according to a Web site entitled “Basic Rules of Soccerhttp://www.soccer-fans-info.com/soccer-rules.html

According to a web site entitled “History of Soccerhttp://www.historyofsoccer.info  this sport can trace its history back to antiquity with the ancient Chinese in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC.  However, the early growth of modern soccer or football started in England.  One amusing tidbit has the rumor that the first ball used was the head of some Danish brigand.  Moreover, the history of modern-day soccer was established in 1863.  To be specific, in October, eleven representatives from London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves.  The result of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association.  Then, as British sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe, soccer’s popularity spread rapidly during the 1800’s.  In fact, Italians, Austrians and Germans drew soccer to Europe, while Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil adopted the sport in South America.

According to an article by Dave Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/overview.html in mainstream America, the sport of soccer has always had a strong base among ethnic communities throughout the 20th century, but the general populace generally ignored the sport.  However, during the 1970’s a key development manifested itself because of the rapid growth of soccer as a youth participation sport.  Ironically, this was because soccer was relatively inexpensive as well as democratic.  To elaborate on this sentence, soccer did not require specialists, tall players or behemoths as many other sports did.  Furthermore, youth soccer did not have the overly competitive stigma and the political mudslinging that bombarded Little League baseball and Pop Warner football.

Moreover, in 1968 the North American Soccer League began in the United States, but this League terminated in a sea of red ink in 1984.  Yet the seeds had been planted for future growth.  For example, the college game was growing steadily, and was one of the largest college varsity sports.  In fact, this was most evident in the rapid and accelerated growth of women’s college soccer.  Then, in 1996 Major League Soccer inaugurated its first year in the United States.  Furthermore, during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the men didn’t perform as well as hoped, but the women’s team won the inaugural Olympic Women’s Soccer competition with unprecedented crowds, including 76,000 for the final, which evinced that the women’s sport was coming of age at the top levels.

As the last decade ended, Major League Soccer (MLS) continued to expand into new markets.  To be specific, in 2009, MLS added the Seattle Sounders, which averaged nearly 40,000 partisans a game.  Ironically, in 2010 the Philadelphia Union’s new stadium was too small because of averaging 25,000 fans per game, which shows tremendous interest in this growing sport.  In fact, MLS expanded with three new teams last year with franchises in Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec.  Interestingly, in 2008 the U.S. women won the Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics, which was followed by the establishment of a new professional soccer league in 2009 dubbed Women’s Professional Soccer (Litterer, 2010).

Interestingly, sage Simon Wright wrote that traditionally kids in North America have been drawn to the big four American sports of football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey; however,  at the youth level there has been a strong growth in soccer participation (Wright, 2008).  Thus, prudent innovators would want to proactively plan for this new pending trend as the U.S. embraces the world sport.

In fact, an article by Bill Saporito elaborated that soccer trails only basketball in America with its number of participants, and soccer is the most popular sport for women among NCAA schools (Saporito, 2010).

After citing this history and trend towards soccer in the U.S., perhaps this is summed up beautifully by Philadelphian Randy LoBassowho blogged that American’s are moving away from food, and moving towards soccer (LoBasso, 2010).

Basketballs ondisplay2 lithuania

Image via Wikipedia

Hence, prudent marketers want to be proactive by preparing for the marketing influx of America’s new fad sport.  As youth soccer coach Jason Van Bever affirms: “NBA basketball is dying, but soccer will supplant this void.”  Yes, with the world becoming more and more globalized, it behooves the United States to embrace the world’s sport.

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  1. December 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm

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