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Could Soccer Become the Next Big American Sport?

Yesterday, the United States was knocked out of the World Cup by Belgium in a pretty exciting match in Brazil.

Neither team scored for the first 90 minutes of the game, with the US trying to keep the scoreboard at 0-0. Unfortunately, Belgian players Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku both scored goals in overtime, and although American substitute Julian Green was able to deliver one goal in the last 13 minutes, the US wasn't able to secure a tie or a win, losing 2-1 in the round of 16.

The US team received more attention than usual this year, both national and worldwide, due to its roster of great players like Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, and Julian Green. According to the Associated Press, "about 100 credentialed U.S. media members [were] covering the tournament," and millions of Americans watched the game on every screen from office monitors to HDTVs in sports bars. Soccer was certainly a big deal this year, and it seems like it will only expand.

In fact, I think it could easily rival America's biggest major leagues, and it could change the way broadcasting works forever if it succeeds. It just needs to avoid the trap that every other major league, like the NFL, has fallen into:

Before the 1960s, major-league football couldn't be followed without the newspaper, and since people had to buy a ticket and travel to watch a game, regular people had no interest in it. Once the TV set came along, consumers could watch every game on their tubes, and since then, the NFL has become the biggest major league in the US, with over 112 million people tuned into Super Bowl XLVIII. The NFL has signed exclusive contracts with channels and TV providers to ensure that football is available for millions of Americans who are hungry for sports.

Exclusive contracts aren't future-proof, though; in my opinion, the NFL is strapped to a sinking rock. Cable companies are notorious for overcharging their customers, and since they have the exclusive rights to broadcast NFL games, they will only give customers the ability to stream football games through the internet. This means consumers have to pay an expensive rate to get streaming that would otherwise be free.

By comparison, the FIFA World Cup is streamed online for free. This means that the World Cup is available for people who don't have TV providers, so you can cut the cable and still access the world's most popular sport. As online content grows, the number of TV customers will undoubtedly shrink little by little, and if the World Cup stays free to watch, it could explode in popularity like the NFL did. If the NFL refuses to embrace streaming, it will lose steam as people start to migrate to the internet for content.

Personally, I'm a fan of soccer, so I would be fine if it became a huge sport here.

- Intern Tyler

 

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