Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The World Cup In The U.S.

SPOILER: if you haven't seen the U.S. game yet, then don't read this post. You have been warned.

Several international readers e-mailed today and asked if the results of the U.S. game today will change our level of interest in the sport.

Believe it or not, it's already changed.

There were watch parties at local eateries for the morning game today. The game was on radio as well as television. Overall, the buzz for this World Cup is substantially greater than it was even eight years ago.

I was working out at the gym (which has loads of televisions) during the U.S.-Slovenia game, and when the second goal was scored, a cheer went up. That's unheard of, really.

Part of this is due to ESPN. In many ways, ESPN is the Sports Death Star, because they create trends that often completely suck, but what they've done this time is legitimize the World Cup in the U.S. They've gotten people far more involved in the World Cup than ever before.

Also part of what's happening is demographics. I dug up a Gallup poll from 2008 that asked for Americans to identify their favorite sport to watch. Results:
Football: 43%
Basketball: 12%
Baseball: 11%

Soccer was at 3%. 

More revealing, though, were the age-related demographics. In the 50+ demographic, 14% said that baseball was their favorite sport to watch. Soccer didn't even register.

In the 35 to 49 demographic, 10% said that baseball was their favorite sport to watch. 3% said soccer.

In the 18 to 34 demographic, though, only 7% said that baseball was their favorite sport to watch, while 5% said soccer.

That's baseball's problem: lots of their best fans will be dead soon. 

I don't know if soccer will eventually replace baseball as the third most popular sport, although I think there's a good chance of that happening. Wait, that's not really how I feel. I really do think that it's going to happen in the next 15-20 years.

I would have thought that was totally ridiculous ten years ago, but that's where we're headed.

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