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Rising Popularity of Domestic Soccer
Vincil Crenshaw ◆ March 3, 2018
A sport once regarded as “the sport that the rest of the world plays,” soccer has gained an immense amount of traction in the United States over the past few decades. 3.2 billion people: the number of people that tuned in to watch the 2014 Men’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Over 105 million of those viewers were in the United States. The population of the United States is slowly catching on to enjoying the world’s most popular sport. But how is our domestic league doing?
Conceived in 1996, Major League Soccer received a lot of hype following the 1994 World Cup, which was held by the United States. However, after only five years of operation, the United States domestic soccer league was face-down in the gutters. Owners were forced to file for bankruptcy, and frankly, people could’ve cared less. This was a league that was trying to take on the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL all at once, after all. Who had time for the MLS? The pivotal turning point came with the LA Galaxy’s acquisition of English superstar David Beckham.
Six years later, the MLS averaged 21,574 fans per game, which was more than the NBA and NHL. What was once a 10-team league two decades ago is now a 22-team powerhouse, close to breaking through as one of the “Big Four” leagues in America. Although the MLS is averaging more fans in attendance per game than the NBA and the NHL, its TV ratings are still far behind. National NBA telecasts across three channels and cable networks averaged 1.19 million total viewers. The NHL averaged 1.23 million followers on US National broadcasting station NBC. Meanwhile, the MLS averaged just 216,667 viewers per game on national networks. However, networks have seen a rise in MLS ratings, while the other two leagues are trending downward. ESPN saw MLS TV ratings shoot up by 29% this past year, while NBC saw NHL ratings decline by 20%, and ABC and ESPN saw a 5% decrease in NBA ratings. So, yes, the United States domestic soccer league is technically on the rise; however, the MLS still has a long way to go; catching up with the sheer magnitude of fans that the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB have will be a laborious task.
By not qualifying for the 2018 Men’s World Cup in Russia, the US Men’s National Team made the task of growing the popularity of soccer in the United States immensely tougher. But despite the disappointment of the flop in qualifying for the World Cup, many positive things are to be gained long-term. Such an awful setback for US soccer has pointed out various flaws in the system. From the pay-to-play model in youth leagues to unqualified leadership at the top of the USMNT, flaws in US soccer have come out of the woodwork. Solving these problems will aid the development of soccer in the United States long-term.
The Men’s National Team is not the only international team the United States has. The most viewed soccer game ever in the United States was the Women’s World Cup Final in 2015, reaching 30.9 million viewers at its peak. To put this figure in perspective, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final in the same year was viewed by 28.3 million. The US Women’s National Team is the reigning Women’s World Cup champion and is a progressive national symbol for women’s sports. There is an argument to be made that the United States could be the best nation in the world to watch soccer; the US fan base spans a wide array of people supporting both men’s and women’s soccer, a trait quite uncommon in other countries across the world.
What Changed in Chelsea?
Jay Kakkar ◆ January 30, 2018Chelsea went on one of the best premier league runs ever, winning 30 of their possible 38 games in the 2016/17 Premier League season. However, Chelsea’s start to the season followed a completely different trend to the rest of their season; while the team won 3 out of their 3 games, the first was an unconvincing 2-1 win against West Ham (who finished the season with 45 from 114 available points), followed by a 1-2 win against Watford (who finished 17th in the table), both games in which Costa had to score an 87+ minute goal to save the tie, and a routine 3-0 win over Burnley. The team seemed to be struggling, regardless of the immense talents of Hazard, Costa and their 35 million pound star signing N’Golo Kante at their disposal. Signs of a collapse were imminent as in the next three games the team drew 2-2 against a Swansea side that would go on to be relegation candidates, and then two humiliating losses against rivals Liverpool and Arsenal 1-2 and 3-0 respectively. Yet, since the defeat to Arsenal, Chelsea went on to win their next 13 games in a row, 1 win away from the Premier League record for most consecutive wins in a season, scoring 32 goals and conceding only 6 and defeating title contenders Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs along the way. From that point on they would only go on to lose 3 more matches and draw 2 ... Continue Reading
To Start or Sit: Squad Rotation in Soccer
Isaac Schmidt ◆ October 20, 2017
On June 1, 2013, Bayern Munich lifted the DFB-Pokal trophy, after beating VfB Stuttgart 3-2 in the final. This was the third major trophy Bayern won that year. One week earlier, Bayern had beat fellow Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to win the UEFA Champions League. More than six weeks earlier, they clinched the Bundesliga title, constituting a treble season. Bayern’s navigated through a congested fixture list over the season to successfully clinch three titles. However, playing deep into multiple competitions often leads to struggling performances for many teams. Multiple games a week means players must be rested and starting the same team every game in every competition would be impossible, which is why squad rotation is necessary. The extent to which a team should rotate their players has always been a contentious topic amongst fans. Sitting a team’s best player on the bench can lead to harsh criticism, as shown when Arsenal recently lost 4-0 to Liverpool after sitting out star player Alexis Sánchez...Continue Reading
Never Much Love When We Go OT?
Eric Herrmann ◆ March 26, 2017
The Winners and Losers of 3-on-3 Overtime’s Sophomore Season
The aim of the rule change was to cut down on boring, unfair and unpopular shootouts and increase the amount of overtime scoring to make that part of the game more fast paced and exciting. Halfway through the second season of its implementation, the question remains, has it achieved these aims or not?
The answer? Pretty much a resounding...Continue Reading
The Rise Of The Six
Kairav Sheth ◆ March 18, 2017