Open Mic: Soccer Struggles in the US

Brad ZakSenior Analyst IJune 23, 2008

Every decade or so, an imported superstar toward the tail end of his career shows up in the States in an attempt to invigorate the nation with soccer fever.

However, the effort always flames out and American children continue to turn in their soccer cleats around the same time they're turning in their tighty-whiteys.

Many people blame the slow nature of soccer or the unnecessary flopping and wimpy nature of the game for its lack of success stateside. However, the more glaring problem goes far deeper for young athletes in America.

Soccer will always continue to struggle in the United States because young athletes are afforded so many different athletic options that soccer often gets pushed to the wayside.

It's not that a lot of good, young athletes don't play soccer; it's the fact that baseball, football, and basketball water down their prospective fields. A young boy growing up an England can play soccer or he can become a young, Cockney pickpocket; those are really his only two options to pass the time.

Young children throughout Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia don't have the luxury of ditching soccer once they become bored with it because without futbol they'd lose most outlets for recreational activities.

When kids in America get sick of soccer, they can easily transition to football or baseball rather than stick it out with "The World's Most Beautiful Game."

It would be hard to argue that the same American children wouldn't stick with soccer if they're only other options were cricket or tennis. Young soccer programs in the United States are more often than not treated as baby-sitters rather than serious sporting programs.

It's safe to say that not even Ritalin can hold kids attention spans toward soccer these days.