Traditionally, the U.S. has never been as interested in soccer as other countries. However, the 2014 World Cup has seen a massive spike in American soccer fans, prompting a debate as to whether the U.S. could become a soccer nation.
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The New York Daily News reported that the recent game between the U.S. and Portugal was the most-watched soccer game in American TV history. Forbes reports that the USA verses Belgium game on Tuesday had the highest rating for a World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2, and ESPN’s viewership peaked at 1,500,000 concurrent viewers.
“The number of people who watched Sunday's game in the United States is more than twice the entire population of Portugal,” according to Dan Levy of the Bleacher Report.
The numbers, wrote Levy, have something important to tell us.
“For starters, there is an audience out there of fans who care about the sport of soccer,” he wrote. “And while the numbers aren't as big as some of the more traditional American sports on television, it doesn't have to be for the game to thrive.”
People are paying attention, he concluded, even if the sport isn’t yet as mainstream as American football.
“The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet,” he wrote. “This year, it's really starting to feel that way in America.”
A large part of this newfound popularity is due to the changing demographics in the U.S., reports the Daily Beast’s Kristen Anderson.
“The rise of World Cup soccer in America is being driven by two colliding, massive forces that have been in the works for decades: the preferences of the young and of the growing Hispanic population,” wrote Anderson. “The same forces that have recently reshaped politics, media, and commerce have fed the swell of support for #USMNT.”
Anderson went on to say that after the World Cup ends, “many will wonder if the fever will pass and Americans will go back to being apathetic about soccer. It wouldn’t be the first time that a major national trend, driven by the preferences of a diverse young generation, was dismissed as a fad.”
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