The World Cup is in full gear and millions upon millions of fans around the world are enthralled with the action. However, a recent story from the satirical news company, "The Onion" pronounced that "Soccer is gay."
It's nearly unthinkable that soccer would be satirized or derogated in such a way in other countries. My sons play soccer and I think it is a great sport for kids. It breeds teamwork, conditioning, coordination, and discipline, among other positive qualities. It is also physical, as the six stitches placed in my 5-year-old son's Adam tongue last night from a soccer collision will attest!
My two sons are not alone - soccer is one of the more popular sports among American children, with millions playing annually. Why do so many kids play soccer but not grow up to be fans of the game, in the way that football or basketball players become lifelong fans? What does this disparity tell us about American culture? For years, soccer officials have tried to get soccer into the mainstream culture, but generally speaking, those attempts have failed.
This year in the U.S., ratings for U.S. World Cup matches are up a sizable 68% from 2006. However, that is still a far cry from countries such as England, where nearly 80% of all people watching television earlier this week were tuned into watch England vs. Slovenia. Why has soccer had such problems catching on in the United States? How will the U.S. team advancing from pool play affect interest in soccer moving forward? What cultural factors may help explain the relative lack of interest among Americans?
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