Ins and Outs of Soccer


Tali Schimmel

Soccer is the undisputed, most popular sport in the entire world; not only is it the most played sport, but also it is the most-watched sport. Statisticians state that there are approximately 4 billion soccer fans, which is over half of the world’s population. In 2014, 203 nations attempted qualifications for the World Cup. That is more than the number of countries that participate in the U.N. today. Interestingly though, soccer ranks as the most popular sport in every continent except North America. According to Sports Show TV Ratings, soccer ranks fifth in American TV sports ratings. In this article, we’ll begin to explore some of the factors that contribute to this phenomenon.

The most significant component is how inexpensive and flexible it is to play soccer. Soccer requires very little equipment. All that is needed to play soccer is a ball and two goalposts. In extremely poor countries, children play soccer by using a soda can as a ball and their surroundings to mark the goals. Even if a person is playing soccer on a more competitive level, all he or she would need is a pair of cleats and shin guards. In comparison, baseball requires a ball, bat, mitts for each player, and four bases at the bare minimum. Furthermore, soccer can be played anywhere. Soccer can be played indoors, or outdoors, in concreted or grassy areas. Whereas basketball, a popular American sport, can only be played on a court equipped with a hoop. Due to the low cost required to play soccer and the easy accessibility, soccer has become extremely popular across the world, especially in poorer countries.

Soccer is the most simplistic sport to play. The Top Tens ranks soccer as number one on their list of most simplistic sports. The goal of soccer is straightforward: score the ball without using your hands. Due to its easy nature, young children tend to pick up the game of soccer. Additionally, when watching soccer, it is easy to follow what is happening, especially for people that do not regularly watch sports. In contrast to American football, where only a true fan will be able to turn on the game and be able to fully follow what is happening.  

Despite all of this, soccer’s popularity in America is significantly lower than in the rest of the world. This is due to American culture.  Americans enjoy being the best; it’s as simple as that. Football, baseball, and basketball are ranked as the most popular sports in the country. It is no coincidence that Americans are the best globally in these three sports. In men’s basketball, for example, the U.S. has won gold medals 15 times in the last 19 Olympics, and they won at least a bronze medal 18 times out of the last 19 competitions. In comparison, in the 2010 Olympics, the men’s soccer team played a total of 400 minutes, yet only held a lead for one out of those 400 minutes. Americans want to play what they are good at and so they do not place as much emphasis on soccer. Soccer also tends to be low scoring, and therefore less exciting. The average points scored in a soccer game is 2-2.7, whereas the average points scored by each team in the NBA per game is 97.

American culture places tremendous value on money and business opportunities and sports are no different. A major way that TV stations make money is through advertisements. Coincidentally, the three most popular sports in America: football, baseball, and basketball, are also the most advertisement friendly. Take baseball for instance: every break between half innings, pitcher substitution, a challenging play, injury delay, weather delay, is more time for advertisements. Soccer, on the other hand, has no timeouts. The only break in a soccer game is between the two 45 minute halves.   Therefore soccer games bring in less money than popular American sports.

Across the world, sports play a major role in everyday life. Soccer has its obvious advantages, which have led it to become the most popular sport worldwide. Yet, American culture is much different than its worldwide counterparts, thus leading to a difference in sports popularity.