Monday, July 21, 2014

Soccer Will Grow Its Niche in America

Soccer is a niche sport in America. Always will be. That is okay because outside football, all sports are niche sports. College will always draw some fans from supporting the professionals because "it's not about the money" cliches. The size of the niche is what matters. Soccer can progress to a spot higher than even hockey and basketball. Baseball has a middle to upper white-asian and all hispanics niche. Basketball is a blacks and very few whites niche. Hockey is for whites on northern states. Tennis and golf are for upper middle and higher class Americans. Soccer can ride a nice wave to a larger niche.

If trends continue changes in American demographics will help soccer. A larger hispanic population will create new soccer viewers. Unlike the Democrats, soccer's hope is not all on hispanic wombs. Soccer can benefit from the current media scare about football related head injuries. Middle class white moms can guide their tots towards soccer and not football. Like all competitive endeavours, pro sports are a giant funnel with filters. More bodies helps regardless. The other benefit is a weird one. Soccer is a low equipment cost but large space needed sport. The suburbs and rural areas that are mostly white and hispanic and may soonbe filled with poor people will be fertile ground for soccer.

The massive draw for strategizing parents is that soccer stars do not look roided up nor are 300 pounds nor all over six feet tall. The premium for height in the NBA eliminates millions. Kid is not going to be 300 pounds? Forget being a lineman in football. A shorter guy like Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney can be a megastar. Allen Iverson was short for the NBA, and he was still 6'0". These soccer players are gifted natural athletes but look human and are immensely skilled. It is appealing to parents and to fans. How many fans talk quietly about how X player wouldn't be on the court if he was not 7 feet tall or ran a 4.4 40? Plenty. Does that happen in soccer?

The fan piece gets a bump from normal looking players. The other big fan piece that never was a factor in decades of old is each match is ninety minutes without commercials. Modern sports have so many commercials that it is annoying and breaks up the game (baseball excluded because inning breaks). Soccer is commercial-less, which is appealing. There are no viagra advertisements to roll your eyes at nor truck ads to break up the game itself.

Trends have to hold, but the trends look good for soccer. Soccer is a darling of the SWPL set, so any growth will be trumpeted. The NHL sells more tickets to games than the NBA, but ESPN/ABC paid big money for NBA playoff broadcasting rights so you will never hear about it. Soccer may have a slow path to a perch in the basketball-hockey realm, but it's destiny is there. With the World Cup, soccer has an Olympics style plug every four years. Given a global promotional vehicle like that, the mandarins of marketing and American soccer can carve out a space in the American entertainment sphere for the game that thinks it should be called football.

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