When everyone is a little kid, youth soccer seems to be the most popular sport to partake in. Yet, after the United States Men’s national team failed to even qualify for the the World Cup competition. Not the finals of the World Cup, but the actual qualifying rounds. With this embarrassing loss, it begs the question whether kids are actively sticking with soccer in the long-term or if the sport is fading in popularity as the years go by?
While the sport isn’t as well-watched as football, baseball, or basketball, it’s still in the top ten for college scholarship opportunities. However, the thing with high school sports nowadays is that unless you plan on pursuing it as a potential career, it’s hard to get kids motivated to join teams. Why? The rise of club teams have taken over normal high school extracurriculars because it’s full of players who are passionate enough to spend all of their free time for the club. Soccer, in particular, is an incredibly time consuming sport to get into. In fact, it’s played almost ten months out of the year because soccer is a fall and spring sport with the potential to play indoors throughout the winter. After that massive loss by the U.S. Men’s National team, is there much of a drive for people to sacrifice so much time to a failing franchise?
Men’s soccer might be suffering in the United States, but for the women it’s like a badge of honor. While the boys have been a disappointment, the girls have consistently performed well to exceed expectations. Yet the ongoing fight for pay parity, despite being the best in the world, seems to diminish their accomplishments for girls who are considering a career in soccer. In fact, they make so much less that many players are forced to play in clubs here in America as well as overseas year round. If FIFA has no interest in promoting the sport for women, it definitely wouldn’t help get younger kids to stick with it overtime.
The biggest problem with soccer though is that the men’s team is simply not good enough. Women are forced to play alongside teams throughout the world in club just to make up decent wages therefore they get to compete on another level. Most of the MLS players do not leave America because they aren’t good enough for other countries’ clubs. The experience of facing tougher opponents as well as training alongside them would be an excellent way to learn. However, that would mean the United States team would be able to swallow their pride to admit that the organization is as laughable as the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. Of course, soccer isn’t the only team sport that has suffered a decline in participation, with all of the major ones reporting declines. At this rate, has our country just sacrificed the former glory of participating alongside a team in favor of solo sports like gymnastics, golf, or tennis? With sports scholarships favoring single player athletics, it definitely seems like soccer might not be the only one on the chopping block.