Sunday, June 08, 2014

Why the USA isn't a football (soccer) superpower … by gimleteye

In The Miami Herald David Neal writes about the weakness of US football (soccer) relative to other nations that will prevail in the upcoming World Cup: "The “why” makes for good sangria conversation," Neal says. It's also good blog conversation.

I coached youth soccer longer than I played the game (at a relatively high Div. 1 NCAA level). Neal is correct: "The creative best in games of flow — soccer, basketball, hockey — form a relationship with the ball/puck through time alone with it. Then, they bring those findings to team play."

Although soccer is increasingly popular and perhaps even the dominant organized youth sport in America, it is indisputably true that the best talents around the world emerge -- not from formal leagues or travel clubs that preselect in order to perfect the best players -- but from pickup games on the street or the beach or in parks where it is just a kid with a ball.

Our kids don't have that opportunity for many reasons; our cities aren't organized to provide easy playing spaces, our kids are too conditioned to play computer games rather than get outside and move, our parents are too paranoid -- perhaps justifiably -- to let children just go play. So soccer -- and other youth activities -- are compartmentalized like everything else in America.

Then, too, there is the specialization of all youth sports. Kids are funneled into choices that make them virtual captives to a single sport they will practice and practice and practice. It is a far cry from just picking up a ball and playing with a bunch of kids on a side street, or a stretch of beach, or a field.

Read more here.


Stop the Giveaways! said...

I don't care about who plays what.

I DO care about it being played in a staduim built on publicly owned historic sites.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

While I agree that in the recent future the advent/uptick in video gaming, together with specialization has hurt the growth of the sport,those excuses cannot be used for the 1970's through the 1990's. We were NEVER a power in soccer and never will be. The sports fans of the US are not intrigued by the game like the rest of the world. It was, is and always will be a peg below the 4 major sports in terms of popularity, coverage and funding (which translates to contract $ for the athletes). Those three factors kept the sport from growing here in the past half century and that is not going to change despite many attempts to do so. Our best athletes will continue to funnel into basketball, baseball and football (and to a lesser extent, tennis) because that is where the money and the fame lies.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't your argument about playing spaces, video games, etc apply to all sports? Don't think your argument shows why soccer would be any different than other sports?

I think soccer is one of those sports that kids can get good at by practicing by themselves without leagues and clubs. Hard to get good at baseball playing alone.

Anonymous said...

Soccer's a great sport for and only kids.

Ted Baker said...


Anonymous said...

Of course, American kids can play pick-up soccer and get really good at it. All you need to do is have small futsal courts alongside basketball courts in schools and let them play during recess. If there is recess anymore. If you think kids in Miami don't love soccer, you don't know what's going on. Soccer is #1 for kids, by a mile. Time for our gov'ts to get the ball rolling. Small futsal courts are easy to put into schools and provide hours of exercise.

Princess Lela said...

Miami has had soccer in school for centuries. Okay, I am not that old but in the sixties in middle school, we played soccer. In fact, they made us make our own shin guards. Mine was navy blue with white polka dots.

That was West Miami middle school.

Prem Lee Barbosa said...

I'm in Brazil right now, the timing is fortuitous if not coincidental.
Wherever there's a neighborhood there seem to be kids on the streets either with a kite in hand, or a ball at their feet.
While this is certainly not the case in more urban areas, the suburbs of Sao Paulo are filled with kids in the streets. They've got nothing better to do, so they own their own damn streets.

People in America are terrified of the street. They believe and accept cars owning the streets.