Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with over 250 million people playing the game each year. You might be wondering why America doesn't get this memo. The truth is, soccer has been taking over America for some time now.
In recent years, soccer has become an increasingly popular sport among young children, and it's especially true for girls. This trend has led to more than 50% of youth teams being made up of young girls.
Soccer's Popularity in America
You might be wondering why soccer is so popular in the rest of the world but not in America. Soccer has already surpassed baseball as the number two most popular sport among kids aged 6-12 with more than 1 million girls playing the game.
Some have speculated that it's because soccer's mostly played by kids and they're getting older while basketball continues to be a very popular sport past childhood. In fact, 52% of high school girls say they prefer to play soccer compared to 18% who prefer basketball.
And although women are still largely underrepresented in professional sports, American youth are proving that it doesn't matter if you're a boy or girl, soccer is a great opportunity for anyone looking for something new.
Soccer is Becoming More Popular Among Kids and Girls
Since the early 2000s, soccer has been on a steady rise in the United States. It's been taking over America for some time now. In 2011, there were 3.2 million youth players in the U.S., which is up dramatically from a decade ago when there were only 1.8 million players. And those numbers are just getting bigger; back in 2012, it was reported that there were more soccer players than baseball and softball combined.
The popularity of soccer among kids and girls has also led to an increase in college-aged women playing the sport. The number of female soccer players jumped from 60,000 to 150,000 between 1993 and 2012. Research shows that 40% of these women played either high school or college soccer before dropping out due to lack of interest from coaches or teammates. With a continued rise in popularity among kids and girls, we can only hope these numbers continue to grow for female athletes too!
Fewer College-Aged Women Play Soccer in America
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but that doesn’t mean America is embracing it. But even though soccer is becoming more popular among kids and girls, not many college-aged women play the game anymore. Why? Well, it’s not because they don't want to play; instead, they often lack access to fields or any form of organized play.
This issue goes back to Title IX, the federal law that mandates gender equity in sports, and how soccer never really took off as a mainstream sport after its passage in 1972. With this law passed, schools, and universities, began cutting their men's soccer programs in order to comply with Title IX guidelines; subsequently, fewer and fewer adults are playing the game professionally or recreationally.
What would help? One solution might be to expand Title IX requirements so that they include sports like soccer and lacrosse. By expanding these requirements, there would be more opportunities for players of all genders, especially high school-aged athletes, to take part in these sports.
The Future of Soccer
The future of soccer in America is unclear. Many people believe that it will become a more popular sport, especially among kids and girls. The popularity of soccer has recently been increasing, and it's possible that this trend will continue. If you want to be ahead of the curve, consider investing in soccer now so your business will be ready when the trend catches on.
Some experts believe that within the next 10 years, there will be bigger crowds at professional soccer games because more kids are playing the sport than ever before. There are also many positive signs for soccer in America, such as its association with Major League Soccer (MLS) and FIFA World Cup 2026 coming to North America.
A study by ESPN revealed that 33% of Americans say they watch MLS games at least once per week or more often, which is a 9% increase from last year. With these numbers continuing to rise for soccer in America, we might see an increase in interest for the sport as well.
We are in the middle of a soccer boom in America. As the sport continues to grow in popularity, it will need to address a few challenges. One of these is the gender gap. Soccer is undoubtedly a male-dominated sport in America, with men making up 90% of adults who play soccer. On the other hand, only 23% of female adults play soccer. The soccer industry needs to work on getting more girls playing the sport, and on addressing the lack of opportunities for women to play at high levels. But there is hope for the future of soccer in America, with more and more kids playing the sport, and with more adults getting involved as well.