Opinion: Popularity of soccer in United States will remain low after World Cup

World Cup Brazil women fans
In country’s like World Cup host Brazil, there is no other sport. Credit: Getty Images

It’s the world’s biggest and longest sporting party and we’ve always been the kid in the corner too afraid to dance or do a keg stand.

The United States is the oddball at the big dance that is the World Cup, because we still (after decades and decades) haven’t realized that soccer, (ahem) futbol is “the best game on Earth.”

That’s not to say there won’t be great interest here in the month-long extravaganza that’s already underway in Brazil. The TV ratings will be through the roof, even in the States. Personally, I haven’t been this psyched for a soccer tournament since our Essex County U-12 jamboree in 1994. Not so coincidentally, that was also the year the U.S. hosted the World Cup. That was also the year that the hardcore soccer fan convinced the casual U.S. sports fan that in 20 years, soccer would be the most popular game in the country. Sorry Taylor, Trevor and Justin. It just never worked out that way.

The world’s futbol is still an afterthought here. American football is more popular than ever.

Those who believe the NFL’s “concussion crisis” will bring its popularity to a halt are mistaken. New helmets will be invented. New rules will be put in place. And in the year 2034, the NFL will still be king.


Football, the one with the pointy ball, is the sports equivalent of oil in this country. We’re addicted, and although there are safer and more efficient ways of getting our sports fix – we won’t quit it. Not in the lifetime of anyone who’s reading this.

Don’t feel too bad, though, you soccer people. In 1994, we were also told the metric system would be the preferred method of measurement in the U.S.. We were told gas-powered cars and also gas stations would be nowhere to be seen in 2014. Soccer being the No. 1 sport in the country in a couple of decades wasn’t the only empty promise, for sure.

Look, change is obscenely hard in this country, as any story relating to Washington, D.C. these days will show. Change is even harder when the constituent seeking change has its own internal problems. ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap delivered one of the all-time fascinating, yet chilling reports in the sports network’s history last month when he exposed FIFA (the international governing body of soccer) and Qatar (the host of the 2022 World Cup) for more or less encouraging modern-day slavery to take place in the 2022 host nation in order for giant soccer-only stadiums and mini-cities to be built in time for the games in eight short years. Hundreds of workers have already reportedly died. There’s also a major bribery investigation likely going down soon. It’s the kind of stuff that would make the NCAA and International Olympic Committee blush.

Those bummer stories are sure to be pushed to the backseat while the games in Brazil continue these next few weeks. The games always get the most attention, whether it’s in the United States, Brazil, Europe or Ghana or whether it’s futbol, American football or tetherball.

So enjoy these next few weeks. The games are going to be awesome to watch. Even if you don’t appreciate soccer as a game, the spectacle itself is worth viewing.

Just don’t expect the popularity of this World Cup to be the start of some sort of futbol revolution in the U.S.. Our role is to stand silent in the corner, remember?

Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…