Of course, participation isn't the total measure of popularity.
It might surprise some to know that the average attendance for the U.S. pro soccer league, Major League Soccer, is higher than average attendance for the NBA. This year, MLS signed an 8-year contract with ESPN, Fox Sports and Spanish-language Univision, which will also dramatically increase the sport's profile.
Events such as this year's World Cup help that growth by raising the sports profile.
That's something Short noticed in relation to another sport. Short said that when women's fast-pitch softball was added as an Olympic sport in 1996, it created an burst of interest in fast-pitch softball among America's young girls. That interest began to decline, however, when softball was dropped as an Olympic sport in 2008.
There is one factor that could stimulate the popularity of the sport in the U.S.
Soccer is perceived as a good alternative to American football, which is struggling with safety issues. The NFL recently settled a class-action lawsuit for $765 million that involved 4,500-plus plaintiffs over concussions. More and more incidents of concussions on the college and high school level are beginning to give some parents pause when it comes enrolling their sons in youth football. Participation in the two large national youth football leagues had dropped by 6.7 percent and 9.5 percent over the past three years.
It isn't much of a prediction to say that soccer will continue to grow in popularity in the U.S.
This year's World Cup is another touchstone in that growth.
Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on Toyota philanthropy:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi on Monday further enhanced its enviable record of exceptional philanthropy for the region with an announcement that it will donate, with other local business help, $100,000 worth of materials and labor for a water garden and gathering area in Blue Springs, its home community in the state.
Toyota and Blue Springs officials gathered in downtown Blue Springs, a community of about 400 people, to reveal plans for the Toyota-Blue Springs Water Garden and Education Park on a three-quarter-acre tract near the post office. B&B Concrete and MMC Materials will donate concrete for the pavilion area and for a side walk to encircle the garden park.
Labor will be provided by Toyota employees and residents of Blue Springs.
Toyota, in addition a $50 million education endowment announcement at the 2007 ceremony revealing it would locate an assembly plant in Blue Springs (within the PUL Alliance of Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties), has made approximately $1.5 million in other philanthropic investments since 2007.
In 2013, Toyota's philanthropy in the PUL Alliance region exceeded $500,000 and empowered the work of several dozen agencies and programs, including libraries and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Toyota assembles Corolla automobiles at the Blue Springs plant, which employs 2,000. A company brochure, Toyota Operations 2014, states that 2,699 indirect jobs are tied to the plant through suppliers and dealers, with a direct investment of $870.8 million.