Football, is the most popular sport in the world. Whether in a stadium or in front of a television screen in a living room, flocks of people come together and watch football matches. The enthusiasm, love, and drama towards this sport is unmatched. Every four years for example, FIFA, the governing body of football around the world, hosts the most watched event in history: The World Cup. This monumental sports event is watched by billions of people around the world dwarfing the viewership of the Super Bowl, NBA championship, and the World Series combined.
Football is everywhere, everyone watches it, and love it. Throughout its many years of existence, Football has been growing in the United States but it has never really been the sport in the country, that is before the 1994 World Cup. It is this World Cup that revolutionized a nation and a sport. It wasn’t just an event that put to sleep a doubtful public about football in the U.
S, but it is the most impactful event in U.S football history, culturally, economically and from a footballing perspective. It went from having a miniscule soccer culture, to a top tier professional football league. For purposes of clarification, in the context of this essay, football is referring to the sport of soccer. The 1994 World Cup had the biggest impact on youth development. Nowadays, American youth view football the same way they do with the NFL, basketball, and baseball.
It wasn’t always that way, or at least growing at the same rate, before the 1994 World Cup. Because of it, football grow and flourished but it can also be loved and watched by millions. Particularly, over the course of the past 10 years, football has vastly influenced the youth in the United States. “The number of participants in high school football programs has recorded an all-time high in the 2014/15 season, with over 800 thousand boys and girls playing the sport across the country” (Steve Fuller).
These staggering numbers, resulted in football “becoming the second most popular youth sport” (Insports Center) in the United States of America, behind Basketball. Not only has the 1994 World Cup broadened American children’s spectrum of football, but it has opened up endless career opportunities. Now millions of Americans, mostly the youth, have the opportunity to become professional in their own country. At a college level, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, has “78,761 students competing across 1,676 school sponsored varsity football programs” (NCAA Soccer).
Those same students, if they chose to, would be part of the Superdraft, which draft players from university to the 8th best football league in the world, the Major League Soccer, or MLS. The United States of America, for a long time, has always been a nation that has focused on its own home-grown sports. However, thanks to the 1994 World Cup, the U.S has become a more football conscious nation.
No longer is the sport underestimated in the country, rather given the credit it deserves. Gary Hopkins, a member of the Advisory Board for Warwick Business School’s Centre for Management in Sport at the University of Warwick said, “Some of America’s wealthiest and most savvy sports investors are behind Major League Soccer, nine new soccer Stadiums have been built (with more to follow) to support it, cities are lining up to embrace it.” Not only has exposure for MLS increased, but for other leagues as well.
This was perfectly portrayed in the summer of 2009, the “Summer of Soccer,” where “The USA which witnessed 94,000 fans turn up to watch Barcelona play LA Galaxy, 72,000 to see Real Madrid play the D.C. United and 72,000 to watch the USA play Mexico” (Hopkins). Furthermore, football related advertisement, including sponsorships, has increased drastically throughout the years. In fact, “Sponsirship spending on MLS, U.S Soccer, and other North American leagues, teams, and events grew 9.2% last year to $333 million” (Schultz).
Even though this number is dwarfed by the NFL, it is much larger than it was back in the 90s, and has been growing at an outlandish rate. Football’s global popularity is partly due to it being the least economical impactful sport, making it the most convenient sport in the world. Like every other country in the world, the United States has poverty; “14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line” (Gongloff). Naturally, anyone who would want to play sports, but economically cant, would gravitate towards football. This about this for a second, you only need a ball, and some crude way to set up goals.
On a side note, the fact that you can play football with as many people as you want makes it even more helpful; you can’t play baseball with three people. Conclusively, you don’t need a lot of stuff to play football compared to other sports. For example, if you need to play American Football, you must purchase helmets kneepads, chest guard, etc..
.; it’s extremely costly and not convenient. Furthermore, because of its cheapness, it binds cultures and social classes because you don’t need much to play. On another note, health for any sport is the number priority. The more the health risks the less likely people would participate in it and even like it. Because health risks are now portrayed through media more than ever, Americans are starting to shifting to safer sports.
“More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year” (Stop Sports Injuries). Clearly, whether you are a child or not, chances are, you are going to get injured while playing. At the same time, some injuries are way more severe than others. The NFL, which is the number one sport in the U.
S “revealed that there were 271 player concussions in 2015, an increase of 31.6% over 2014″ (Breslow). Moreover, these concussion lead to extremely long term, lethal problems. Sports like the NFL and hockey are extreme collision sports, while football is a contact sport. Because of major, life threatening injuries like concussions, Americans have responded with American football seeing a, ” 6-14 participation drop from 3 million in 2010 to 2.
169 million in 2015—a massive 27.7 percent drop”(Gartland). The shift towards football because health and inexpensiveness, were made possible thanks to the exposure of World Cup on the American back in 1994. To conclude, the 1994 World Cup revolutionized a sport and a nation culturally, economically, and from a footballing perspective. It opened up doors that helped make this sport part of American culture.