Date of Award
William W. Berry
Globally, soccer is the most prominent sport, drawing devoted fans from nearly every country in the world. The World Cup grosses the highest attendance and viewership rates of any international professional sports tournament. For many countries, the game of soccer is a source of national identity and pride. Despite soccer’s global impression, the sport has failed to fully captivate its American audience. The introduction of the professional men’s league, Major League Soccer (MLS), in 1996 spurred interest. The sport has experienced slight growth in popularity, but its national attendance and viewership ratings are trivial in comparison to America’s elite three sports of football, baseball, and basketball. After twenty-three years of the most successful professional soccer league in American history, soccer should not be significantly overshadowed by the elite three in the way that it is today. Soccer’s disposition in the United States has been of much discussion in recent years; especially after restructuring the United Soccer League (USL) and the ongoing misconduct occurring among soccer’s international governing body, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). My thesis work aims to answer the following question: why is soccer the most popular sport in the world but has failed to be so in America? In order to answer this question, I apply a theoretical framework constructed through relevant news and sports articles, scholarly and academic journals, scientific investigation, personal interviews, and personal experiences to analyze what causes soccer to be unable to come to fruition in the American sports industry. The results of this investigation conclude that a root cause of soccer’s disposition is accredited to cultural differences between individualistic and collectivist societies. These culture differences factor in to many facets of the sports industry, including the sports media, financial investment, audience attentiveness, and athlete interest.
Neely, Catherine Reese, "The World’s Game, but not America’s: An Analysis of Soccer’s Disposition in the United States" (2019). Honors Theses. 1084.