Some may say that “soccer isn’t a real sport” or “soccer isn’t popular in the United States”, but we have some facts to prove otherwise.
Soccer ranks as the highest sport for social media engagement
Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel
The NFL is the most popular sports league in the U.S., but in terms of social media, it doesn’t come close to top tier soccer teams. To give perspective, the entirety of the NFL (32 teams) has a combined social media following of 141 million followers between Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Barcelona-on its own-commands a following of 148 million. Who’s socially awkward now?
Among all youth sports, soccer has the highest enrollment
One would think the most popular sport in the U.S. would carry equal weight in youth enrollment, but as of right now, it doesn’t.
3,055,148 was the number of youth players officially registered with U.S. Soccer programs in 2014, an 89 percent increase since 1990. Enrollment of youth football had 2,169,000 participants recorded in 2015, close to a million less than youth soccer.
Also, the number of people who play soccer at some level in the U.S. is 24,472,778, placing the U.S. second behind only China in the world.
FIFA is the best selling, most played, sports video game in the U.S.
Do video games matter? Yes! Considering society’s electronic revolution, video games carry a heavy influence; so of course video games make a difference. Consider these facts.
- 960 million gamers play on a smartphone or mobile device
- 59 percent of parents play video games with their children weekly
On top of people that simply play video games, FIFA has changed the way professional athletes play the sport. Alex Iwobi, a teenage striker for the Premier League’s Arsenal, used the game as preparation against players he had never faced.
“I’d look at his name,” Iwobi said, “and then try to remember how good he was on FIFA.”
People not only play video games, they are willing to watch other people play them! In 2015, 27 million people watched the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship. This was more than the 2015 NBA finals’ viewership of 18 million.
Let’s not forget the most popular channels on YouTube are video game based, “let’s play” series, whereby a host will stream themselves playing a video game while others watch.
Major League Soccer is a crowd puller
For a third year in a row, MLS broke its attendance record, averaging 21,692 in attendance across the league. In terms of average attendance, the MLS beat the NBA and NHL, ranking it as the third-most attended sport in the U.S.
The Seattle Sounders also ranked within the top 30 soccer teams in the world in average attendance, at 43,547, beating many international giants, including Chelsea.
Premier League clubs to top NFL TV earnings by 2017
A few years ago it would have have been hard to watch a Premier League match on TV, but now EPL currently holds a massive TV deal in the U.S., broadcasting matches on networks such as NBC and FOX.
In 2015, it was reported that European football revenues added up to 80 percent of the four major U.S. sports (football, baseball, basketball and soccer). If one factors several U.S. national players involvement in soccer abroad and the international market of soccer, the EPL’s revenue totals are sure to pass.