A recent report commissioned and published by Telemundo Deportes has shown soccer as the fastest growing team sport in the United States. Entitled The Future is Soccer, the report also revealed additional fascinating information about the fan base and sport of soccer in the US.
For a long time, soccer has been touted as America’s “Sport of the Future” (this writer is looking at a vintage NASL “Soccer: The Sport of the ’80s” banner nailed to his wall right now), but As the demographics of the US have evolved, the data seems to finally catch up with that claim.
The latest research findings explore the sport of soccer in the US.
Based on a Gallup sports poll, the report states that as of 2019, 52% more adults consider themselves soccer fans compared to 2012. This growth outpaces the other four “top” American sports, such as hockey on ice (+42%). basketball (+27%) and baseball (+8%) trail soccer, and football (-7%) loses supporters. The 1994 FIFA World Cup, the creation and growth of Major League Soccer, and the success of the United States women’s national team are cited among reasons for the general growth in interest in the sport over the last three decades.
Another big part of the success of the sport in the US is the fact that we have a plethora of soccer available on television. Everything from our men’s and women’s national professional leagues and college soccer, to just about every league anywhere on the planet, can be found on US television and streaming services. In 2021, there were only six days where not one soccer game was broadcast on television in the US, more than 4,600 individual games. That is a simply staggering statistic. More than half of those games were broadcast in Spanish, demonstrating the popularity of the sport among the Hispanic demographic, the fastest growing population in the US between 2010 and 2020.
Surprisingly, among those surveyed, football is the most followed sport among Hispanics, with 59% saying they follow the action on the field of play, slightly topping soccer, which came in at 57%. Soccer, of course, remains king around the world, grossing more than $40 billion in profits in 2019, twice the global revenue of the American game.
The enormous importance of the World Cup
FIFA reported that in 2018, the World Cup in Russia reached more than half of the Earth’s population, 3.57 billion viewers.
Such a massive event is an important milestone in the lives of many people around the world. Among Hispanic fans surveyed, their country winning the World Cup ranks second in major life events, trailing only slightly behind the birth of a child and ahead of landing their dream job, getting married or buying A car.
Additionally, the World Cup was recorded as the second favorite celebration among Hispanic fans; only Christmas scored higher.
And the big event is easier to watch than ever, with multiple ways beyond traditional television to watch the games. While television remains the most popular viewing option, 34% of Hispanic viewers surveyed say they plan to watch games on their smartphones, with computers, tablets and even game consoles being preferred options for some.
Optimism for football continues to grow
Most importantly for the future of sports in the US, the game is fast becoming a “first choice” sport for young people. Participation in high school football grew 32% between 2002 and 2019, by far the largest growth, outpacing baseball (+6%), hockey (+7%) and basketball (-6%), and soccer (-6%). -2%), where the participation decreased off. Furthermore, participation was almost even between girls and boys, with girls not far behind the total number of boys playing in high school.
With the explosive growth and strengthening of the game nationally over the last 30 years, it’s especially exciting to think about where we go from here. The 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA still holds the all-time tournament attendance record (despite having only 24 teams and fewer games than subsequent tournaments) and was the most commercially successful edition of history When 2026 brings the World Cup back to North America, with an expanded field of 48 teams, those records are sure to be broken.
As the popularity of international and domestic soccer rises, and the US population continues to evolve, it is only a matter of time before soccer begins to overtake the traditional pastimes of the United States, and the game of the world. truly become America’s game.