Will Americans ever fall in love with the game they call ‘soccer’ (and the rest of the world calls football)?
Just four days after the climax to the 2010 World Cup, the country seems to have moved on — the sports pages have printed barely so much as a syllable about the sport.
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Yet anyone who witnessed the U.S’s nerve-racking, last-minute win over Algeria, will understand that soccer has the potential to take a hold on the American psyche. The crowds of nail-biting co-workers, crowded around office TV sets, and the spontaneous explosion of joy when Landon Donovan scored, testify to that.
Yet why do so many Americans find it hard to embrace a game played in every country in the world?
Is it the melodrama of so-called ‘injuries’? Ninety low-scoring minutes?
Jeffrey Doss, owner of New York’s 77-year-old Soccer Sport Supply, says soccer’s popularity could be solidified in a generation if the U.S. continues to succeed and acquires some star players. “It’s getting the kids following players they can emulate,” he said.
“Maybe the sales pitch is wrong,” author David J. Rothkopf wrote in The Washington Post. He suggested soccer play up its abundance of “chaos, violence, scandal, corruption and controversy” because that’s what Americans love.
Darren Prince, CEO of Prince Marketing Group, cited the disappointment over Freddy Adu, the Ghanaian-American phenom, as one reason for the lack of interest in marketing soccer here. Adu, signed as a 14-year-old in 2003, made endorsement deals with Nike, Pepsi and other companies, then flopped. Since that debacle Prince said that, “The advertisers and the agencies shy away from the soccer players.”