Why isn’t Soccer Popular in the USA

If you think about the most popular sport in the whole world, soccer will be the answer. Almost every country in the world, in every continent, engages with soccer. However, when it comes to the USA, soccer is not a popular choice amidst the American lot. Unexpected, right? Have you ever realized why isn’t soccer popular in the USA? Ever wondered why? We are here to talk about why isn’t soccer popular in the USA.

It is not even like they call soccer by a different name, such as football, as it is known in the remaining part of the world. 

Americans prefer to play other kinds of games over soccer for quite a few reasons. However, there is one big underlying truth which answers the why in our question. It is simply the American culture.

You might find it interesting to know that there are quite a few parts of the game which does not sync with the social beliefs of the Americans. Furthermore, there have been a few events in the past which contributed towards not attracting the nation to soccer. 

We are here with a few reasons to depict why soccer is not popular in the USA.

Americans are not the best in the game

As you may already be aware, the people of the USA want to be champions or number 1 everywhere. If we look through the pages of history, the Americans have always tried to win in almost everything and fought to reach the number one position amidst the super powers of the world.

And, they have pretty well succeeded in most cases. This tendency continues through the WWI and WWII and as per the American culture, they have always wanted to stay in the top of everything to maintain control over the situation in hand. 

It is the same case with sports. If you think of the three most popular games in the country, they are Basketball, Baseball and American Football. And, guess what? The Americans are the best players in all three.

However, some of these games, just like American Football, are only played in the country itself. Hence, whoever wins, it will be the national pride for the USA.

Soccer is, on the contrary, played all around the world, comprising of the top-class teams and players in all the continents. It is even impossible to have a dominating league in a specific country for soccer.

It happens to be quite a competitive sport and the USA soccer team is not the best team in the world. Rather, they failed to make it to the last World Cup. Europeans hold the power in this sport, and have successfully defeated the USA in several occasions in the World Cups. 

Do you see enough reason for the Americans to not love the sport? After all, no one likes to be constantly losing in a game and yet call it their favourite.


If you have been to the USA, you will know how much Americans like ‘huge’ things, or going overboard. Be it is in case of a fast food chain or a mall, the scale is always big. Similarly, when we try to take a look at the top 3 sports of the country, you can see that each of the games have big scores.

When, for example, we talk about American Football, the average amount of points that a team can get is usually around 20-29 points in one game. Likewise, it is around 9 points by one team per game in baseball, 97 points per game in the NBA (basketball) and 68 points on an average per team in NCAA. Big numbers, are they not?

When it comes to soccer, you will miss this. You will not see how many goals are scored at the time of the game. Back in the early years of soccer, an average of 5 goals per game, quite a high scoring pattern, was used. However, with the rise in the competitiveness of the sport, you will hardly see anything above 2-2.6 goals per game. This again comes down to the American culture- it is too low of a scoring to accept.

The Heights and The Weights

Once again, the heights and the weights needed for the game of soccer is too less for the Americans. When considering the top 3 American sports again, the average height tends to be 2 meters (in basketball), 1.92 meters (in American football) and 1.85 meters (in baseball).

The average weights for basketball, American football and baseball happens to be 220 pounds, 250 pounds and 200 pounds respectively. What does this tell us about the size of the players on an average? They are huge. They look impressively giant or big everywhere.

However, soccer is quite a rebel. You will not need to attain any specific speal features or characteristics physically, in terms of the weight or the height, in order to get into the game.

In countries where the people are generally tall, the average height of the soccer players tends to be 5 feet 11 inches, while in the other countries, a 5 feet 9 inch player talks for the average.

Moreover, the tallest player in the game is usually the goalkeeper. If we look at the statistics, the height of the tallest goalkeeper in the World Cup 2018 was less than the usual height of NBA players. 

Does this speak enough against the American social mindset and hence explain why it might not appear to be much appealing to the Americans?

Marketing and Commerce

Material value matters a lot for the Americans. If you look at the American companies and corporates, they are thirsty to engage in money making business. This also applies to the leading TV channels and media networks of the USA.

And, not to forget, a huge part of the yearly revenue stream for these TV networks comes from the ads that are shown during the broadcasting of sporting events or games. 

What does this tell us? Well, this simply means that the TV channels will only be interested or more inclined to show and promote sports which attract more advertisements or advertising agencies.

Once again, the winners in this regard happen to be Basketball, baseball and American Football. For instance, when watching American Football, you can expect advertisements to be aired at the end of the first and the third quarter, timeouts, injury breaks, halftime, stop after a score or turnover, two minute warnings, coach challenges etc. 

When it comes to soccer, the picture is very different. You can only have one break- and that is the halftime. Is that suitable for advertising firms? No. And hence, this game will not make it to the priority list of the big media channels.

The Tie: Americans Hate it!

How do you feel when you have watched a game for 2 hours only to see none of the teams win or lose but to end up with a tie? Americans regard a game to usually be completely not worthy of watching if it does not have a winning team.

As you can see in their top three sports, they will always, in general, have a winner. When there is a tie, the Americans regard it as a loss for both the team. 

In a game of soccer, around 55% of the time, the teams end up with a tie. After 90 minutes of the game, all you find is a score of 0-0. Annoying, right? However, not all games which end up with a tie are boring to watch.

Some people enjoy the thrill during the game and the result does not matter as much as the game. The Americans, usually, feel otherwise. And hence, soccer does not make it to their top of the list favourite sports.

Opportunity Cost

This may not be a conscious choice, but the Americans usually work with the concept of economics called the Opportunity Cost. It simply means the costs you incur due to the loss of prospective, probable gains from other alternatives, when you make the choice of one of the alternatives.

To put it easily, Americans value the efficient use of time to bring money to their pockets. This also means, they take less off times and have very little leisure time. 

The little leisure they get, Americans want to spend in doing things or engaging in activities which are better than watching a game of soccer, which lasts 2 hours and ends up with a tie or a maximum of 2 or 3 goals. It does not excite the American heart and hence does not make it a popular sport in the USA.

Concluding Remarks

Soccer has a potential to become a big sport in the USA in the future, given the increasing number of young players today. However, we have already seen what challenges lie on its way towards gaining the popularity amidst the Americans.

You can also read: How Long is a Soccer Game?

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