Every day, there is a reason to think Soccer is getting a bit closer to being called a ‘Mainstream Sport’ in the U.S.
Indicators pop up in all corners of the country. It feels like a movement. Fans are displaying passion for Soccer and MLS in powerful, indescribable ways.
Soccer has passed being a phenomenon in the U.S.; it is beyond anyone’s imagination, the level in which it has become part of the culture. People are attending matches, playing on teams, and buying merchandise like never before in this country.
Articles and blogs are documenting this massive yet subtle turn in consumer tastes with unprecedented coverage. The Internet, more importantly, technology, has made a major difference on all of it.
Ironically, it might be faux Soccer that ultimately tips the scale over for real Soccer becoming a mainstream spectator sport.
Video games are now infiltrating a part of society that Soccer has failed to reach in the past: the inner-city.
Without a doubt, Soccer video games are present in middle and upper classes of families throughout the U.S. But not until recently did Soccer become a video game fad for the underclass. EA Sports, the same video game company that designed the super popular Madden NFL, has also pioneered FIFA Soccer, a game even more popular than Madden.
The world’s game is also the world’s video game.
Its success is due to the popularity of the sport, but more impressively, it is due to the incredible sensation of operating leagues, teams, and players with the same kind of ball control, coordinated attacking play, creative passing, and superior marking by defenders that one might see in a real game.
Graphics and detail are a hallmark of EA Sports and they are done with finesse and realism. Working the ball down the field, defending the ball up the field, scoring goals, and making great saves are all part of the fun.
Gamers play because it is a cool, breathtaking game. It’s the same reason gamers from the inner-city are playing it, too. They appreciate how much fun it is, how real it looks, and how easy it makes Soccer seem to play.
In the U.S., inner-city youth rarely play any extended periods of Soccer. Football and basketball have been the major attraction for decades.
But this video game is changing the perspectives of many young people towards Soccer. This is important for Soccer because if Soccer is seen as ‘cool’ by inner-city youth and descendants of inner-cities, than it will make big strides towards mainstream status and get there a lot quicker. A sign of the times is most easily detected when the ‘cool’ factor is in play.
In general, the EA FIFA Soccer video game brings in more people and more fans to Soccer. This is a result of pop culture just being pop culture.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com