With Chile’s amazing win over Bolivia last night, I started thinking a lot about soccer,aka football, aka fútbol. As I watched (on TV) Plaza Italia flood with people celebrating Chile’s win, I wondered, “Why don’t we do that in the U.S.?” F.’s dad asked me if anything like this ever happened allá, and I told him the closest we got was when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. But even then, they hadn’t won in almost NINETY years, and the celebrating was pretty much limited to the Northeast, and mostly just to Boston.
The United States doesn’t have this mass euphoria when the US Soccer team wins because, let’s face it, no one cares about soccer in the US. But my question is why?
I have two theories, and probably the real reason is a combination of all of them.
Soccer is boring. Compared to basketball, where the players score a lot, soccer can be a let-down. I mean, when I went to the Chile-Urugay game, NOBODY scored. Fome. However, when someone does score, it’s AMAZINGLY EXCITING, where as in basketball, the only real thrill you get is maybe when someone hits a three-pointer or it’s the end of the game and it’s tied. But, you say, how about baseball, America’s pastime? I love baseball, but I totally agree with the argument that it’s boring. I mean they players stand for most of the game. There’s hardly any running involved. And football (the American kind) one could also argue is boring. The play is interrupted every few seconds, although I agree it’s pretty darn exciting when someone scores a touchdown, especially a running one. And they score more often than in soccer.
Okay, so maybe the “boring” factor has something to do with it, but it can’t be everything because a lot of sports that are popular in the US can also be described as “boring”.
Money. Baseball, American Football, Basketball and even Hockey allow for plenty of commercial interruptions, whether it be for change of innings, time-outs, the break between periods/quarters or player injuries. I’m pretty sure that in American football, they take time-outs especially for commercials, or at least it seems so to me. Soccer, on the other hand, does not lend itself so well to commercial breaks. In fact, if you watch soccer here in Chile, there is one commercial break: half-time. You see, time doesn’t stop in soccer. When someone gets injured, the clock keeps running and they add time on at the end. Same when they sub in players (which is done infrequently in the first place).
So I know this may sound all conspiracy theory-esque, but go with me for a second. Advertisers don’t gain much from soccer games in the US. So therefore the teams (National or MLS) have less sponsors which means less money. Therefore they can’t afford to “market” the sport like money-makers such as American Football or Basketball can.
I’m sure this theory is full of holes and things I haven’t thought about. So that’s why I put this out to you, dear readers. What do you think? Why is soccer so unimportant in the US, but in the rest of the world it’s practically the only sport?