|Brazil gets it.|
Whenever the World Cup rolls around there are always some NOT-SO-HOT TAKES that range from "Soccer is going to take over the US sporting landscape" to "I like my football's oblong you fucking commie ball kickers". I imagine most of you fall closer to the latter than the former. You like your sports with hands and thumbs showcased because Dan Shaughnessy is your chosen leader of the old school. Baseball, basketball, and football will reign supreme forever in your minds. I don't agree with that, as I think baseball SUCKS and is fading fast, but that's not what this post is about.
How can soccer become a mainstream sport in the US? There isn't a single answer and I don't even think there is a plan to work it out. I think this is something that needs to happen organically with a little luck. Like, create as many youth soccer associations as you want, but if that buy-in doesn't continue into their teens then who really gives a fuck. How do we grow that buy-in? I have some ideas.
Find a way to coexist. There are over 300 million people in this country, I can't see any reason that soccer can't coexist with the other leading sports and we can dominate the world in all things athletic. The worst thing that soccer fans or advocates can do is come in and try to directly compete and compare with the current US mainstays. You can't just show up and pick a fight with basketball and football because you will be obliterated. And the truth is soccer doesn't need to compete with them. Don't get me wrong, the idea of watching LeBron, Adrian Peterson, and Megatron just destroying motherfuckers out there gives me all the boners, but you aren't seeing guys like that being the best players in the world in soccer. Most of the Messi's, Ronaldo's, and Beckham's of the world aren't standing over 6'. How many awesome high school and college athletes are out there that couldn't make it big in their sport because they just didn't have the size? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Athletes are out there.
Develop a black superstar.
10 of those 13 athletes listed above are black, or at least half black if we are talking Tiger Woods. That obviously means something(other than the NBA is really fucking good at marketing its' players). Black kids, Latino kids, and white kids look up to black athletes. That's an indisputable fact. If soccer wants to take off then it needs to find its' black superstar. And not some fucking Freddy Adu-type 14 year old prodigy. A real star who has succeeded on an international level.
And I don't mean go into the hood and get all those kids on the street playing soccer. The athlete escaping from the hood storyline is played out and almost entirely false, as illustrated here. For every LeBron James there is a Michael Jordan and a Chris Paul. You want to be a professional athlete? Coming from an upper-middle, two parent home gives you much better odds than coming from the hood.
Become "pick-up" friendly. Growing up, I spent my time playing sports outside 90% of the time. Those other 10% were spent on Napster or looking up fatality codes for Mortal Kombat. Every single day, when the weather permitted, I would play basketball. I may not play a full game, I might even just be out there by myself, but I shot a basketball every single day. Hell, even on days when my driveway was covered in snow I would shovel that shit just so I could shoot some hoops. And I wasn't even fucking good. I mean, I'm good enough to play basketball and be competitive, but I never even tried out for a basketball team.
And if I wasn't playing basketball, I was playing football. Growing up the Good's side lot was host to the best backyard football games you could find. And it was the ultimate socioeconomic mix. The city law directors son was out there playing next to a kid who was locked up by the others dad. It didn't matter. We started calling people at 7 AM on Saturdays to get the game organized. If we could only get a few guys around we would play "Smash Football", a game we created in my backyard where the field was only stretched from the rose bushes to the sidewalk...or about 8 feet. That's where the real men showed up.
When I was in middle school I played street hockey all the time. We would shut down the street, drag out some goals that my dad got from the hardware store, and all the neighborhood kids would show up. I can't even count how many pucks we lost down the sewers at the end of the street.
The point is, I never ever ever ever played "pick-up" soccer. I'm pretty sure I never owned a soccer ball. Yes, I played soccer growing up, when I was maybe 5-8 years old. I never touched a soccer ball after that outside of gym class. I would be shocked if this isn't the experience of about 75% of guys my age. How in the fuck is the US supposed to put out a soccer team that can even sniff a World Cup Trophy with the majority of their potential players not even playing the sport when they turn 10? It's impossible.
So..... I don't know exactly how to make that happen. Like I said at the beginning, it's not a simple answer. I do think that there is going to be a slow migration of young athletes towards soccer, if only because less young people are interested in baseball and more parents are holding their kids out of football. I'm sure sometime in the next 5 years we will see those numbers bare out. But, that's a snails pace when it comes to catching up with the countries that year in and year out are World Cup contenders. So does the US Soccer Association(I assume there is such a thing) just need to go into every neighborhood and handout soccer balls? Do MLS teams need to start letting people under 12 into their games for free? Is it possible for billionaires to get involved with US soccer and bring over #ELITE talent? I don't know. But I think any of those things would be a great start.
|No seriously. BRAZIL GETS IT.|