Soccer ‒ or football as it is commonly referred to ‒ is the world’s most popular sport. It has about 300 million players, and around 4 billion fans worldwide. But despite its popularity ‒ and the fact that it has been around for many centuries ‒ soccer has yet to gain mass appeal in the United States.
American Football, on the other hand, is extremely popular in the US, despite having relatively few worldwide fans. So, why is American football more popular than soccer in the United States?
Read on to find out.
These are 12 reasons why American Football is more popular than soccer in the US.
1. American football has American roots.
Unlike soccer ‒ which traces its roots to England ‒ American football was created in the US. It has been at the core of America’s history since the early 1860s, and its professional league was created in the early 1900s.
Americans are proud of their past, which is a reason that American football is king there.
2. American football rewards size and strength.
Along with winning, Americans also love size and strength. The more athletically built the player, the more appealing they are to the American public.
This obsession with size and strength can be attributed to their fascination with winning, as a well-built player can display the country’s prominence better than an average one.
Soccer doesn’t give you this. Most soccer players are slimly built and are rated based on their skills on the pitch. With respect to that, it’s easy to see why American football is the favorite sport of people who live in America.
3. American football has more advertising opportunities.
America has a materialistic culture. As such, American business leaders love to squeeze money out of every available opportunity. This includes sports ‒ especially if those sports are televised.
American football is great for making money, as it has four 15-minute quarters and a half-time intermission. There’s plenty of airtime for businesses to run ads during all of these commercial breaks.
Soccer, on the other hand, is a 90-minute match with two 45 minute halves. This means advertisers only have a single break, which makes for less marketing opportunities.
4. Soccer doesn’t use hands.
Americans are naturally hardworking and believe in using their hands to achieve things.
That’s one reason why most of their favorite games ‒ basketball, baseball, and of course American football ‒ are played using hands.
Only the goalie can use their hands when playing soccer, which may make it less attractive to some Americans.
5. Americans love to win.
It’s well-known that Americans like winning. They like to win in businesses, sports, wars, and basically everything else. To add to this, America is currently the world’s foremost superpower ‒ the fact that there’s only one major league for American football sport enables them to maintain top-tier status in this sport.
On the other hand, soccer is a global game with a lot of international competition. Since Americans are not that good at soccer, they quickly get knocked out of international competitions. They’d rather stick to a game they’re proficient in instead of losing to other countries.
6. Americans don’t like ties.
Americans don’t like games that result in ties. They like games that have a clear winner, and American football almost always ends with someone winning outright.
Soccer has a lot of ties. Because ties are harder for Americans to accept, they prefer watching American football to soccer.
7. There’s no flopping in American football.
Flopping ‒ or pretending to be injured to get a foul call ‒ is quite prevalent at all levels of soccer.
Americans hate flopping. Pretending to be injured is seen as weak, and the habit is socially typically rejected in American sports. It’s such a big deal that any player who flops in an American sport gets fined. This applies to not only American football but also other sports Americans love, such as basketball.
In soccer, on the other hand, flopping is the norm ‒ and according to some fans, one thing that makes the game beautiful. When you consider this factor, it’s no surprise that American Football is more popular than soccer in the US.
8. American football has clear stop times.
Americans are a punctual lot when it comes to time and sticking to schedules. They like their games to end at a set time ‒ and soccer games rarely end at the 90-minute mark. There are always extra minutes added to the end of every soccer match.
Sometimes, this additional time is even added before the break. The added time usually isn’t fixed or exact. The exact length varies depending on the game and the referee.
9. There are no distinguishable American names in soccer.
Because Americans prefer American football, more attention is usually paid to the sport at the youth level. This means that talented football players are given more resources and training than talented soccer players are.
Soccer also has a much larger international talent pool to compete with. While talented American football players only have to compete with other Americans for the top spots in the sport. American soccer players have players from all around the world to compete with, which makes them much less likely to become internationally famous.
As a result, there are very few recognizable American names in soccer. Having no one to support in the top professional leagues is another reason that Americans prefer American football over soccer.
10. American football is more action-packed.
Americans love action. They enjoy big hits and aggressive physical plays. American football was designed with physical aggressiveness in mind ‒ the rules even encourage hits that can seriously injure players.
Soccer, on the other hand, is slower and less action-packed. It involves players running around kicking a ball ‒ much of the game is spent watching players walk around and pass the ball back and forth. And when hits do occur, they need to be done in a way that minimizes the risk of injury.
Because of this, Americans find soccer to be slow and boring ‒ which is why most Americans wouldn’t want to sit through a Premier League match when the Dallas Cowboys are battling it out with the Chicago Bears.
11. Americans like higher scores.
Americans like things bigger ‒ a fact that is reflected in both the size and speed of their players and in their scoring systems.
In basketball, professional teams routinely score more than 100 points a game. American football is similar, with the average score usually sitting between 20 and 29. Soccer matches often have zero or one point scored during the entire 90-minute game ‒ a fact that turns many Americans off to the sport.
12. American football has more substitutions.
Americans believe on equality. They also believe that, for a game to be clean and fair, players need to substitute frequently, so the whole team remains strong enough to win.
Soccer teams are only allowed three substitutions per game, while American football teams can substitute as much as they want. Some Americans feel that the substitution limitations imposed on soccer players can cause the sport to be slow and boring, which leads them to prefer the faster pace of American football.
Despite the apparent preference of Americans for their brand of football, both games are exciting to watch and to play.
The negative perspective that people once held towards soccer in the US sport is also slowly changing, and more people are getting more involved in the sport. Major League Soccer ‒ the primary professional league in the United States ‒ continues to grow in popularity each year. However, the dominance of American football in the United States isn’t likely to change anytime soon. It’s the most popular sport in the country, and it will take a monumental effort for soccer to unseat it.