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Why the Soccer World Cup is bigger than any American sporting event

Hi all!

Let's talk about the World Cup today!

As the German I am, it saddens me to see so little attention being paid to the World Cup here in the United States. I wonder, why is that? I talked to an american friend today, who said the World Cup is nothing in comparison to the Super Bowl. I couldn't believe that and looked up some numbers...

In December of 2005 the draw for the World Cup finals was made in Leipzig, Germany. Without a ball actually being kicked, more than 350 million people tuned in via their television sets while millions more followed the proceedings over the Internet just to see whom their country would be paired with. The Super Bowl, is watched by less than 100 million people, stateside!

It's get's even better:
The last World Cup in South Korea and Japan was watched by a cumulative audience of a staggering 28.8 billion people, while the final itself between Brazil and Germany attracted 1.1 billion viewers, the largest TV audience in sporting history. By the way, these figures only account for home viewing so when you take into account the number of fans in bars and restaurants it would be much higher. So, looking at pure numbers there can be no doubt what is bigger.

I did go to a few football and baseball games here in the States, just to check it out. Both sports enjoy increasing popularity in Germany. The football team of my hometown (Hamburg Blue Devils) draws crowds in the thousands every weekend.

What I noticed though, here in the states especially, is that for a lot of people the sporting event seemed to be more of a family picnic, rather than a competitive sporting event. I was irritated by cheerleaders on the side, trying to amuse me when the game was slow, or some PA announcer telling the crowd to make some noise.

In soccer you don't have those elements, no cheerleaders, no PA announcer heating up the crowd, or dramatic music when the ball gets closer to a goal. The noise in the soccer stadiums comes from the people, it's organic.

I believe that is the main difference here. Personally, I think American sports are to a big part about pure entertainment. That is not the case with soccer. The bottom line is winning in soccer. Whole nations go ballistic with joy, there is an identification with it, that I have not seen in the US.

Well, before I go off here, let me finish with a quote by a famous coach named Bill Shankly who once said the following when asked if football (soccer) is more important than life and death:

"Listen, it's more important than that."


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I agree 100%, and I'm not even that into soccer. The Super Bowl is a drop in the bucket compared to World Cup Soccer. The Super Bowl just doesn't inspire the same kind of nostalgia that WCS does.

Okay, you can be friend again. :)

I too agree with this assessment.

As a sport, soccer is a much bigger draw globally. American Football, although popular around the world, is more of an American tradition, so it's limited in that scope.

Marko, Marko, Marko - you must have missed the month of march. Our college basketball tournament is probably one of our biggest events. I won't speak to the world cup vs. the super bowl because its clear. The world cup is well....the world. The super bowl is one game, two teams, that I rarely pay attention to myself anymore. This is where I do agree with you slightly. American professional sports are missing a lot of key elements to the passion of sports. You have to look to college basketball and football to see where the heart is. I'll take you to an apple cup, where the Cougars will surely prevail - and you'll see the true spirit of sports. Now cheerleaders...nevermind I won't get into that.

I can relate to the last comment about college sports. It seems to make sense to me, to find more "heart" there.

I think most people in the US understand that the world cup is a much bigger event than the Superbowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, NBA Finals, the NCAA basketball tournament, and , combined. Of course, all these sports only hold relevance in the US but to most Americans, compared to all of these sports, the WC is a drop in the bucket. Its neither good or bad, just the state of affairs. I like soccer, and enjoy the WC every four years, but I love american football.

Very well said.

I keep hearing about how many young men and women are playing soccer though. Maybe in the future soccer will become a bigger thing in the US too.

Also, should the US team be able to move on into the Group of 16, that would surely help!

Its strange really. I, along with a whole generation of American kids, have been playing soccer since we were kids. But for whatever reason, its not caught on as a big spectator sport. Perhaps, my parents generation just didn't get it, or it could it be that we're a bit naive to think it would catch on as quickly as we would hope.
10 years from now, I suspect there will be a much greater audience as the US game matures and its media exposure increases. Its very rare we see a US national game on TV. Its a shame really, but its come a long way since USA 1994.

I'd like to see the round of 16, but infortunatly, should we knock off Italy and Ghana, I think the goal differential will do us in.

I hope the US will win tomorrow, and expect Ghana to lose.

Group would be then:
(depending on goal difference, ITA might be 2nd.)

1. CZE = 6 pts
2. USA = 3 pts
3. ITA = 3 pts
4. GHA = 0 pts

Now, if we then hope that ITA loses against CZE on June 22nd, while the US wins againt Ghana the same day, the US would travel to the next round, without depending on any other team or goal difference.

Group would then look like:
1. CZE = 9 pts
2. USA = 6 pts
3. ITA = 3 pts
4. GHA = 0 pts

Let's hope! Even if the US ties tomorrow, there is still a chance, but it will be in the hands of the other teams.

Wow. Didn't this coming. Now everyone in the group is still in it.

Yep, real suprising outcome!

Now we gotta hope that the US team can get a good result against Ghana. Then there is a good chance for them to advance! Wow!

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