There is no doubt that the popularity of soccer in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past 5 years. The question is, which side is more popular, men’s or women’s soccer.
The death of U.S. Women’s Professional Soccer league in 2012 was a low point in the soccer world. The failure of the league was very eye opening and also sad to many fans. The League failed due to internal organization issues and also a very small fan base. The player’s salaries were little to nothing, which sent talented players on other career paths. In 2013 the National Women’s Soccer League took its place and has since been on the rise. The new league includes 9 competitive teams, which had an average attendance rate of 4,137 in 2014. The 2015 average attendance is 4,922 per game but that number is expected to grow due to the fact that it is still early in the season.
The men’s league, MLS, has been around since 1996. The League has had a loyal following for quite some time and has gained much support over the years. The average attendance in 2014 was 19,148 and has grown to 21,227 in 2015. The facts are impressive given that the U.S. is not known as a country that loves soccer. The average attendance for a Premier League game, which is the top professional men’s league, is 36,176. If the U.S. continues this growing trend, then someday the MLS may be as popular as the top leagues in the world.
The broadcast of the Women’s National Team against Japan was the most watched soccer game in U.S. history with 24.5 million viewers. This event has given women’s soccer a massive amount of publicity. Now, names like Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are known by almost everyone. This kind of recognition is great for the sport. It reminds people that there are sports other than football and basketball in the U.S.
The increase in attention soccer is getting right now is extremely good for the sport as a whole. When the top leagues do well, then the lower leagues see the same effect. Starting with and increase in popularity of collegiate soccer to the club level and even to pee wee soccer. From my experience playing Division 1 college soccer, we see an increase of fans at our games when there has recently been a world cup. I think people seem to forget about soccer because there is so much negativity surrounding the game. “There isn’t enough scoring”, is a common line I hear all of the time, but that just tells me that they don’t see the beauty of the game and what is happening in-between goals.
In my opinion, I would say that in the U.S., women’s soccer is more popular. My reasoning behind this statement us solely because of the recent world cup win. Soon enough the hype will die down and the men will take their usual spot back at the top. The NWSL really needed this attention, and I believe that it will be able to last for many years after this. I just hope that the US Women’s Nation Team will continue to win and keep women’s soccer relevant.
This blog post was written by Samford University student Anna Allen.