I declare with absolute certainty that the USA will never win the Men’s Soccer World Cup. You’re probably asking your-sexy-self how I could possibly be so sure of this. Well my friend, I had an epiphany.
As an American, I got hungry while watching the first half of the France-Belgium semi-final and reading through a soccer to American dictionary, I decided that I wanted to make some spaghetti. I told myself that I would start boiling water during the next commercial break. That’s when the horror set in—actually, put a pin in that.
The USA has a competitive sports scene and produces great athletes. Surely there must be some great soccer players out there, right? There are, sugar bear! But there are two key problems. One is that the best athletes gravitate toward the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, and American Ninja Warrior, all of which are far more popular than the MLS. The other problem is that athletes play for money and top talent demands a lot of money in order to even show up.
But when the top athletes are signing contracts for over $200 million dollars for four or more years, the MLS will never be able to afford to draw the talent it needs in order to become popular. Even David Beckham—arguably the most recognizable “footballer” (soccer player) in the world at the time—joining the MLS didn’t draw much American attention.
Now remove the pin and resume feeling horrified with me—during play there are no commercial time outs! There are no significant breaks until half time, the final whistle, and the three years and ten months between World Cups.
It all comes down to money and ad revenue. There are not a lot of soccer fans, so there isn’t a lot of money to be made playing professional soccer in the United States of America. But even if the U.S. Men’s National Team did manage to pull off a miracle and win at the biggest stage, thoroughly pissing off the rest of the world, it still wouldn’t improve the sport’s popularity. Results don’t necessarily improve ratings.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has won three World Cups, four Olympic gold medals, seven CONCACAF Gold Cups, and ten Algarve Cups (I’d wait for you to Google that, but we both know you don’t actually care). The USWNT has had all of this success and they still have to advocate for more pay that still wouldn’t equal what the Men’s team “earns.” Sure, there’s a degree of misogyny, but it’s more a result of low television ratings and merchandise sales.
If we have learned anything from failed cartoon shows, it’s that if the tie-in merchandise doesn’t sell well enough, the show gets cancelled. The only way to improve the USMNT is to start buying jerseys of subpar players.
I can practically see you now—you look great btw—sensually rubbing your temples while you ponder what could possibly be done to improve ratings of soccer games in the USA. You can rest your beautiful mind as I’ve already considered several ways we could Americanize the world’s most popular sport; monster trucks, cheerleaders, casual racism, t-shirt cannons, Beyoncé halftime shows. None of it will work to cure American soccer’s woes.
Come with me, not on, like, a date, but a thought exercise, and think about what the U.S. would be like if soccer were popular. ESPN would cover MLS games like they mattered. As a result, Americans would start learning how to pronounce names of players from other countries. Away games for the national team would become a gateway to increased travel and desire to learn about other cultures. This would, in time, lead to the U.S. government developing a stronger, more peaceful foreign policy which leads to world peace.
Far-fetched? Yes. Ridiculous? Also yes. Plausible? You tell me…