This morning in my Facebook feed, NPR posted a fascinating article entitled “Why America May Be Ready For Some Futbol.”
Timed to coincide with today’s crucial match between the US and Germany, the essay touches upon a readily apparent truth: Passion for soccer (futbol) in the US has been steadily growing, and in a few cities like Portland and Seattle, approaching the fevered mania usually reserved for European countries like England, Spain and Italy.
While some underlying observations are what you might think (e.g., a generation of Millennial boys and girls have grown up playing and appreciating soccer), many are surprisingly larger points about Millennials’ attitudes and habits.
1) Because soccer is played with a nonstop clock, it takes less time for a match to be completed than other US sports, while easily allowing multitasking when watching. And, it’s easy to take the game with us and watch on our smartphones while on the go.
2) It’s much more common for top US pro athletes to be from other countries (look at the international makeup of the San Antonio Spurs, or many MLB or NHL top stars), so younger US sports fans are more open to having strong interest in the best players from other countries.
3) Perhaps the most surprising point (and worthy of some deeper philosophical pondering) is the exact ending of the game is uncertain, as extra stoppage time is added to each game at the private discretion of the referee. The writer’s point? "In these unsettled and unsettling times, who knows when your job is going to end? Or your retirement savings?"
However, what the writer DIDN’T touch upon is that ESPN and Nike figured this out a few years ago, and have been heavily promoting the cool sexiness of international futbol to college and post college men ever since, especially through their coverage of the English Premier League and other major European leagues.
The World Cup is just icing on this cake, that will leave a sweet taste for quite awhile.