Wolves are Circling

One of the things I’ve thought a lot about over the past few years is the way in which soccer is building a massive global constituency that will ultimately make its way to the US and knock the traditional American sports of football, baseball, and basketball off the top.* I believe the way this will happen is that the big soccer clubs throughout the world will develop international audiences, and this will make them incredibly wealthy of a magnitude far beyond any American sports franchise.

This increased wealth will allow the clubs to make a more concerted push to attract the American sports audience, whether through traveling summer tours and an increased presence on American television, but that alone won’t budge the Big Three B-sports. Nor will MLS develop a large enough fan base to challenge the Big Three, though do believe it will continue to grow incrementally.

What will work to both build soccer and weaken the Big-Three is a massive push to attract young athletes in the US to play soccer.  How this will work is that the big soccer clubs will establish youth academies in the athletic strongholds of the US, particularly in the big cities in large states like Texas, California, and Florida, places where currently most of the college football and basketball talent comes from.  These youth academies will have tremendous facilities, be staffed with high-quality coaches and trainers, and will recruit heavily throughout the youth ranks.

At this point, naysayers may point to the fact that we’re still talking about getting these kids to play soccer when the Big-Three are far more prominent in the American sports culture.  My answer to that point will be addressed more at length in a post tomorrow, but the short version is that the recruiters from Manchester United, Barcelona, AC-Milan, or some big club from Russia or China, will have a financial sales pitch that show an aspiring athlete and his parents just how much more money he stands to make from a career in soccer than he would from any other sport.

*Given the explosion of the serious study of both sports and economics (and to some degree, sports economics, though not as much as I would have thought), I don’t know why this issue isn’t debated more in the popular press.

 

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