I started playing soccer at age 7 through high school. I was asked to try out in college for some good teams and offered enough in scholarship money to pay for a book or two at small schools. I turned them all down because I knew the time commitment wouldn't lead to a career. This was the late 80s.
I don't tell you that to impress you about my "skills" but to impress you how far soccer in our country has come. I've been a youth coach for every spring and fall for the last nine years. I institute the same things I did as a senior in high school to 10-year-olds. They are so much more advanced. The development of young players is so much more advanced.
Every year, more and more kids are playing soccer. Every year, more and more parents are learning the game. The TV ratings for US vs. Ghana were the highest for any ESPN televised soccer game in U.S. history. Yes, we as Americans suddenly become big USA bobsled fans every four years, too, but we could care less about it a week after the Olympics. I think this one is different. I think America and soccer are coming together.
Each World Cup, there's a stronger buzz in America about the game. It must be because it's another four year's worth of educated fans. Educated because so many of us have played. I was 6'1" 190 lbs. in high school. I was ripped by adults and classmates because I didn't play football. I loved soccer too much to leave it. Now, no one bats an eye anymore when a kid says they're a soccer player. I wouldn't say it's mainstream, but it's moving in that direction.
As a radio station, we are airing every USMNT we can. We wouldn't do that as a patriotic gesture. We're in the business of making money. It made sense as a business decision because the audience is there. I think that audience will keep growing. Not just for this year's World Cup, but for all international matches.
There is no chance I'm trying to tell you that soccer is two years away from passing football, basketball and baseball in our country. I am saying soccer's popularity is growing as each set of teenagers moves into their financial independent stage of their 20s and 30s. Soccer is establishing itself in America.
How do you feel about that?
If you don't love soccer, what's stopping you? I don't ask as if there's a problem with you. I'd like to know because I'd love to convince you that it's a great game. I'd love to share my passion for the sport with you. Tweet me @doug987FM with issues you have with the game. If you do love soccer, follow me on twitter and please add on to any response I give.
Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf
Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week
D&W talk to all the top decision makers in Arizona sports.