Why is soccer not popular in the United States?

Published 30 May 2017

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Soccer’s popularity in the United States has been overshadowed by the emergence of another sport. This led to a shift in the followers and supporters of the sport, thus resulting to the late bloom of the country’s professional soccer league. Since the United States focus on sports which has a high following, soccer has not been given enough attention. It could have also be rooted with the American’s outlook and way of life, that hindered the flourishing of a sport such as soccer, thus making the country lag down in this aspect as compared to other countries.


When David Beckham, former captain of England’s soccer squad and one of the most successful soccer superstars, decided to sign a five-year multimillion dollar contract to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the United States professional soccer league was given the spotlight (Hylands). Many people were really surprised not only by Beckham’s transfer but also with the fact that the United States has a professional soccer league, the Major League Soccer. This could be explained by people’s unfamiliarity with the sport, wherein it doesn’t have much following as compared to other major league sports like basketball and baseball. Aside from Beckham choosing to play for US, anyone could see the great difference with the other countries when it comes to soccer. Soccer has a huge following worldwide but a rather small following in the United States. For a nation that is proud of having the best athletes in virtually every professional sport, the United States considerably has fewer concerns when it comes to soccer. What could have affected the country, if not, the majority of Americans to develop small interest in this ballgame?

Human condition and psychology. Looking at the psychologist’s point of view, US’ soccer world could be suffering from the effects of a socio-economic difference between Americans and other people from the world. Taking into consideration the fast-paced lifestyle, Americans would rather prefer an intense high scoring basketball game in the NBA rather than a slow, low-scoring match in the country’s major league soccer. An interview with a sports analyst showed that a lot of Americans prefer watching baseball and basketball because of its fast paced game type. Unlike pro soccer games, those sports have higher scoring rates. This could be a reason why Americans are not that enthusiastic with soccer. Majority of people would watch games that have a lot of followers. It is like a bandwagon, where people appreciate what others appreciate. They wouldn’t venture on sports which is not known mainstream, in this case, major league soccer (Millward).

Between soccer and other sports: looking back to history. Analyzing the roots of the sport, it was introduced to the US in the mid 1800’s. It was the Oneida Football club of Boston Massachusetts to first play association football outside Britain, meaning, the US comparably had an early start as compare to other countries today who has a great soccer following. But this doesn’t support the idea about soccer not getting enough support form American sports enthusiasts and fanatics.

Thus the research delves into the realm of other sports and its effect on soccer. Looking at another perspective, there are other sports which are somewhat similar with soccer. Rugby is a good example. It is a contact sport composed of two teams which aims to outscore each other by bringing a ball in the goal at the opposite end. With comprehensive research, information about rugby was obtained and it was found out that the basic principles of soccer plus an extremely physical contact between players has been boiled down and converted to rugby. A sports historian said during an interview about how soccer was reformatted to suit the American players, hence led to the creation of the Boston Game. In this game, players were allowed to kick the ball and pick it up, as well as running around with it. Analyzing the concept, this is the basic principles of one of America’s favorite game, the American Football (Thakkar).

The emergence of American Football. From the basic principles of soccer, with modifications and alterations to fit the American way of life, the United States sports community was able to create the American football. Research showed that this sport gained a lot of following in the country, just like basketball and baseball. It drew attention away from soccer, the sport where it was patterned. This was the primary reason that diverted people’s attention towards other sports (Anderson).


Tom Weir, a Scottish author and broadcaster once said, “The rest of the world loves soccer. Surely we must be missing something. Uh, isn’t that what the Russians told us about communism? There’s a good reason why you don’t care about soccer – it’s because you are an American and hating soccer is more American than mom’s apple pie, driving a pick-up and spending Saturday afternoon channel-surfing with the remote control (“Quotations About Soccer”).” The implication of this statement is that it has been a way of life of the Americans why they don’t give much importance to soccer as a major sport in the country. This is how they look at the sport, and it is their choice, not anyone else’s.


  • Anderson, Shelly. “Beckham Won’t Boost U.S. Soccer”. 2007. February 2 2007. .
  • Hylands, Alan. “David Beckham Signs for La Galaxy”. 2007. February 1, 2007 2007. .
  • Millward, Robert. “Soccer in America No Beckham”. 2007. February 2 2007. .
  • “Quotations About Soccer”. February 2 2007. .
  • Thakkar, Natasha. “David Beckham: Good for U.S. Soccer? Yes.” 2007. February 2 2007. .
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