Will Soccer Overtake Baseball? A Look at the Growing Popularity of Soccer in the US

It's no secret that soccer is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. It's already the fourth most popular sport in the country and could overtake baseball in third place by the end of this decade. Historically, soccer has been slow to gain traction in the US, but with a FIFA World Cup scheduled for later this year and the world tournament to be held in the United States in 2026, it's clear that football is set to grow even more. I work with young children and can confirm that soccer is much more popular among them, at least in my home country.

You can see it on social media during a big soccer match, whether it's the World Cup or the English Premier League on a Saturday morning in the fall. The growing popularity of soccer is partly due to its accessibility - you only need one ball to play a game - so much of the American population has at least tried it. The baseball All-Star Game will be held for the 89th time on Tuesday, just two days after the end of the soccer World Cup and a week before most NFL teams begin reporting to training camp. It would be difficult to find a single player in baseball's All-Star Game besides Bryce Harper, who is as well-known and recognizable among Americans under 40 as any of the best international soccer players. Suffice it to say that football was a sport that had new and available markets to acquire and perhaps imitate the culture that complements it. While soccer has been slowly being introduced from Europe to the US sports market, the NFL and the NBA have made strides to extend their product in a reverse way.

A study reveals that 49% of American sports fans say they enjoy watching soccer on television, ahead of ice hockey, with 37%. Soccer has become the sport of young and urban people, who tend to live in large and diverse metropolitan cities and don't care that the best players in the world aren't American or play on American teams. Soccer was a project that had hardly been played with in recent decades, but only recently was it discovered that its marketability made the game reach the American public. It's certainly an uphill battle, but soccer is a sport that's taking hold in American sports culture and probably won't go away. And also in the stadium: Major League Baseball has a higher average attendance, of 28,000 per game, than the 21,000 in Major League Soccer.

It's a question of whether an unstoppable generational realignment is taking place, which will eventually lead to soccer replacing baseball among America's favorite pastimes. Not men's soccer, but soccer is already the most popular women's team sport in the U. S. Department of State and will probably continue to grow in that regard. However, personally, even as someone who watches much more baseball than football (soccer) these days, I have always felt much more sympathy for the argument that baseball is boring than for football.

Sue Ayars
Sue Ayars

Wannabe travel fanatic. Freelance bacon fan. Incurable sushi trailblazer. Friendly music junkie. Infuriatingly humble zombie junkie.