Sep 21, 2012, 12:45 PM EDT
ESPN’s Roger Bennett examines the growing popularity of soccer in the United States and finds a serious advocate for the sport.
The takeaway: “Rich Luker, a 59-year-old baseball-loving social scientist based in North Carolina, is the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, the complex database that recently pronounced soccer as America’s second-most popular sport for those age 12-24, outstripping the NBA, MLB and college football.”
There are a lot of stats to back up the claim, but here’s the most convincing argument: “We are talking generational change. A generation of kids have now grown up as having MLS as part of their reality.”
Think about that for a second. It’s HUGE that kids can a) go to MLS games, b) watch MLS games (and European games) on television, and c) (most importantly) see men being paid to play soccer.
If you’re a 12-year-old kid, you don’t care that the average MLS player makes little when compared with the average NBA star; you care that they are getting paid. The details don’t matter; the reality of the possibility of becoming a professional athlete does.
The lament about soccer is always that the youth levels are hugely popular, but then kids choose other sports. The reason for that, at least in part, is that 15 years ago, it was much, much harder for a teenager to picture himself as a professional soccer player. (Raises hand.) Now, however, that barrier is being removed, meaning fewer kids will quit.
Luker again: “The game was massive up to the age of 13, when sport was all about bonding with male peers, but in middle school, it became all about cross-bonding with other genders and high school football shot right to the top. You simply can’t beat the social lubrication of the homecoming football game.”
And, no, you can’t. But you can equal it. And for a massive percentage of the population, it’s a heck of a lot easier to picture being a professional soccer player than an NBA star.
May 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
With David Beckham-esque tears streaming down my cheeks, we’re finally here: The final day of the 2012-13 Barclay’s Premier League.
May 19, 2013, 10:19 AM EDT
Newcastle have nothing to play for and have been a disaster at home of late, losing their last two matches at St. James’ Park by a combined 9-0.
May 19, 2013, 10:13 AM EDT
The timing on this thing in two words: pretty bad:
May 19, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves on the 20-year-old goal-scoring sensation … :
May 19, 2013, 12:48 AM EDT
The Sounders exploit Dallas’ young back line in a meeting of two Western Conference teams in top form. Final score: 4-2 for the Sounders:
May 18, 2013, 11:41 PM EDT
Juan Agudelo makes his New England debut as Jay Heaps posts one of the best wins of his young coaching career:
May 18, 2013, 10:33 PM EDT
Highlights and context as “Jack Mac” scores his league-leading 8th goal:
May 18, 2013, 9:50 PM EDT
Cascadia Cup matches are always interesting, and Saturday’s 2-2 draw at BC Place was full of talking points:
May 18, 2013, 8:24 PM EDT
it was a big crowd pleaser on two fronts when the Whitecaps’ forward stroked an unstoppable free kick against Portland:
May 18, 2013, 8:05 PM EDT
The young Timbers’ attacker is having an outstanding season for the Jeld-Wen Field bunch:
May 18, 2013, 7:38 PM EDT
Higuain created the game’s only goal and was masterful in possession at BMO Field:
May 18, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT
An appearance next week in Paris Saint-Germain’s final match 2012-13 season doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the retiring superstar:
May 18, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
Video: Reports out of England say today was the former England captain’s final match, rather than next week as expected:
May 18, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
Depth at United will allow David Moyes to hut big game this offseason.
May 18, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT
David Beckham’s not dropping off your radar anytime soon.
May 18, 2013, 2:01 PM EDT
Before Monaco takes on Europe, they have to convince French soccer.
May 18, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT
Manchester City’s former boss reaches out to his supportive fan base – his first public comments since his Monday dismissal.
May 18, 2013, 12:28 PM EDT
Mercifully, the season’s come to an end for the 17 clubs who tried to keep pace with Bayern Munich.
May 18, 2013, 11:40 AM EDT
Manchester United’s outgoing boss was amazed but not surprised at his rival’s dismissal.
May 18, 2013, 10:22 AM EDT
Relegation’s decided. So’s the title and two of the league’s Europa League spots. All that’s left? The battle for top four.
- Philadelphia’s Jack McInerney would be league’s youngest Golden Boot winner 0
- Talking points on Portland’s 2-2 draw with Vancouver 0
- PSG president confirms Saturday was likely David Beckham’s farewell match 2
- As Alex Ferguson says goodbye, Manchester United’s cupboard remains stocked 0
- Bayern Munich finish German season 25 points ahead of Borussia Dortmund 0
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- Play Video: Sir Alex says goodbye
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- Play Video: Boy with cancer, 8, scores against major league soccer team
- Play Video: Red Bulls pull off win on the road
- Play Video: Highlights: Montreal extinguish Chicago