An Interactive Sports Experience

Soccer is Getting Bigger Every Day

Soccer is Getting Bigger Every Day

Jul 28, 2013

Did you know that Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a big soccer fan? Like me Kobe spent many of his younger years in Europe where his father played basketball in the Italian A1 and A2 leagues.

Kobe naturally started playing soccer with his Italian friends joking that they usually put him in goal due to his size.

His childhood team was AC Milan, but now the Lakers guard confesses to following the Catalan giants Barcelona after being inspired by Ronaldinho.

I too grew up playing soccer while also following my favourite team Liverpool, and was lucky enough to attend matches at Anfield and sometimes away games as well.

As a kid in America though I played the traditional American Sports of baseball, basketball and football as no one had any idea of who Manchester United or Liverpool were, never mind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Mention the word soccer to an American and they would say no I am not interested in soccer, saying things like “who wants to watch a game that has very low scores and where quite often there is no winner with a match finishing up a draw.”

The big change in American attitudes came after the Education Act of 1965, and title IX of these amendments that mandated equal access and equal spending on athletic programs at college institutions for girls and boys.

This resulted in many colleges establishing varsity soccer programs for girls throughout the country which in turn offered scholarships to get into college.

It was these new programs that have allowed the United States to continually produce one if not the best woman’s national soccer team in the world.

Now for the boys soccer was still looked upon by the fathers in particular of being a sissy sport, yet over the years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of boys that are now playing soccer instead of the traditional American sports as size and strength do not come into it.

Today soccer is a sport, that more and more parents are pushing their children to play as it is a game that can be played almost from the time a child is old enough to kick a ball, which is in fact a natural occurrence in any child, just put a ball in front of them and they will kick it.

Secondly the costs are very minimal compared to other sports as all you need is a ball and some ground to kick it around on.

In fact you now have quite a few American players in the European leagues as well as a domestic league that is set to expand in a big way as new franchises are started around the country.

The traditionalists still do not get it but American big business certainly does with almost a third of the English Premiership having American owners including my team Liverpool who are owned by the same people that own the Boston Red Sox, The Fenway Sports Group.

The potential for growth is still phenomenal if you consider that it is the number one sport in almost every country in the world except the United States with all the top English clubs taking their teams on summer tours so that fans in Asia can get to see the clubs they follow in action.

My team Liverpool are on a three legged tour of Asia and Australia playing friendlies in Jakarta, Melbourne and Bangkok, and as you can see from the videos below the support has been tremendous with the Reds playing in front of 95,500 fans on their one stop in Australia.

Comcast owned NBC realize the potential soccer has in the United States paying the English Barclays Premier League $250 million for a three-year contract to broadcast every Premier league game live.

Soccer in not going to go away, and will eventually take over from the other sports with only a generation before this will happen say’s Rich Luker the scientist behind the ESPN Sports Poll who makes a point when he says that 33 million people in the United States watch soccer on a regular basis with followers of the sport starting to get a passion for the game just like other fans around the world have saying:

“It is a true community. The only group that comes close are college sports fans or followers of the Grateful Dead. They embrace soccer as a communal lifestyle as opposed to a personal experience or a community that only exists on gameday.”

He goes on to point out that In a pole done by ESPN when asking teenagers who their favourite sports star was Leo Messi came 16th and Cristiano Ronaldo 24th .

Luker added:

“My greatest delight is to look out of a plane’s window when I am crossing the country and see what people are playing in the parks below,” he said. “If you watch it like that, soccer is the biggest sport in the nation.”

Have a look at the videos below of Liverpool’s tour and wonder if we will witness scenes like that for an MLS team one day.


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