Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Z_CNHI News Service

July 3, 2014

U.S. loss on World Cup pitch was a win back home

(Continued)

The question becomes whether U.S. soccer can build upon that interest, or if the game returns to hibernation until the next World Cup rolls around in 2018? There’s no way to maintain the current fever, but soccer needs to devise marketing strategies on how to grow its base.

Where do we, as fans, turn? To the men's and women's professional leagues? To leagues overseas? To college soccer?

It’s apparent that soccer has a serious fan base among young people - and not just males. Women of all ages  rooted on the American team.

This stands in stark contrast to a moment I recall from years ago, as soccer was being introduced into the amateur sports scene. The sport was met with disdain - especially from those running youth football. Bumper stickers appeared around town that read: “Soccer is a foreign disease."

Not only was there resistance to the introduction of a new sport, it was under attack by a generation that saw it as a threat to a valued American tradition – that other game called football.

That episode may serve as an example of how attitudes change, however gradual as it may be.

Part of the explanation for our reluctance or resistance to adopting a new sport may rest with this country’s isolation from much of the rest of the world. Oceans do more than separate us geographically; they've kept us apart culturally.

But a wave of technology, via the Internet and social media, have brought us together in ways previously unimaginable. Soccer seems poised to benefit from emerging possibilities. And who better than youth — the new audience - to adopt a new way of doing things?

Old barriers to soccer are coming down. It's clear that the U.S. men’s national team caught captured imagination and spirit of an intrigued sporting public. Soccer’s future here could be big, if those who say “I believe” demonstrate that they do.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

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