Soccer’s popularity outside of America
Why is soccer so much more popular outside of America? In my humble opinion, soccer is popular in other parts of the world because of it’s origin, availability to the mass and culture. I don’t profess to have studied this phenomena in depth or have studies to back up my theory. Rather, it is just my observations and opinion.
According to James Paul Gee, “all of us through our primary socialization early in life in the home and peer group, acquire at least one initial discourse (8)”. Gee goes on further to say that we “acquire this primary discourse, not by overt instruction, but by being member of a primary socializing group (family, clan, peer group). Primary discourses differ significantly across various social (cultural, ethnic, regional, and economic) groups in the Unite States (8).” This could be said of any cultural, ethnic, and economic groups in the world and not just limited to the United States.
Let’s take this further and apply the same concept to sports. Soccer, more than any other sports seems to be fundamental to almost every region of the world from South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Soccer appears to be the national sport in most countries. Kids are seen on the streets playing bare footed. The popularity among people is daunting and unbeatable. The fan frenzy is almost too much when you hear of violence and riots caused by their team’s loss or wins.
Why is this phenomena not seen in America? I grew up playing soccer at an early age. I don’t even remember making the decision to play soccer nor being asked. It was chosen for me by my parents. They loved soccer more than any other sport since that is what they grew up with in Korea. They believed the sport would teach me many things such as, sportsmanship, teamwork, friendship and exercise. I learned to love it too.
I never had interest in playing other sports like football or basketball. I simply started to play sports that I was assigned to by my parents. Soccer, hockey, baseball, track & field and martial arts were their choices for me. These were my primary sports. As I grew older, I did narrow down the sports activity that I favored, namely soccer.
Soccer’s popularity in other parts of the world may be due to it’s availability to all. It is fairly inexpensive sport to play in contrast to hockey, baseball, and football. This to me is a huge factor in other countries where kids may not have the means to afford the expensive equipment to play other sports. Cultural as well as economic reasons seem to play a key role in the popularity of soccer. Kids can go outside and play as a group with simply a ball. No other equipment is necessary.
The impact of culture and economics play a key role in soccer in America. Most immigrants watch soccer. My family is perfect example. My grandparents grew up with soccer. They understand the rules. They don’t understand other sports such a football. Therefore, they are bored and lose interest. Simply, they are more familiar with soccer from their own childhood.
There is also cultural pride in soccer more so than any other sport. In my opinion, this is because soccer unlike any other sport is global. Countries play against each other. There is national pride behind some of these teams as exemplified by the World Cup. No other sport seems as global. Football is only played in the U.S. Baseball is played between the U.S. teams.
Soccer, however, can and is played among countries where the masses rally to support their national teams.
Again, I don’t pretend to know all the reasons as to why soccer is more popular in other countries than America. There seems to be many reasons ranging from economic and cultural influences. Soccer popularity is increasing in America. I believe this is due to the fact that there are so many immigrants like my parents. They are the masses now living in America watching soccer more than any other sport. Now there are more kids growing up playing soccer. I see kids on the fields as early as 3. Perhaps it is because we never get too far from our primary discourses and we are simply choosing soccer because our parents choose it for us. Maybe now soccer will become just as popular in the U.S. as in other parts of the world.