The 2018 World Cup final is this Sunday between Croatia and France, and with all the hype and awesome games we’ve seen so far, it got me thinking if I would ever see a men’s team from the United States take home the title within my lifetime. The simple answer to that is a NO. Unless we change our culture.
Soccer, or fútbol, as the rest of the world calls it, is the most popular game on the planet. It is the cheapest off all sports to play. All it takes is a ball, a field and some players and you’ve got a recipe for a game that starts riots and tears families apart.
In order to play soccer at a high level in the United States, you have to be on some sort of travel team or play in several different leagues that are ongoing throughout the year. Travel teams cost parents thousands of dollars as they utilize nice facilities and purchase new, high-quality jerseys every year. So most of the kids that participate in them aren’t from low-income families due to the high expenses on what in the rest of the world seems to be a pretty affordable, accessible sport. America literally takes the cheapest game on the planet and price gouges potential players out of it, which makes us have a smaller pool of players at the end of the day.
A young soccer player in the USA can’t just go to the park with a ball and grow into a phenom as they do in other countries. Without years of summer camps and travel leagues, you’re pretty much guaranteed not to make it to a high level of competition.
It is a figurative mountain a player must climb to be able to get noticed and nurtured with the soccer culture we have in the U.S.
Not to mention the 1,000 other sports we play here. Our natural athletes don’t really gravitate towards soccer. They play American football, baseball, basketball, hockey lacrosse…etc. Soccer just gets lost in translation until every fourth year when the public is outraged that we can’t field a team on the world stage.
Croatia literally has just over one percent of our population and they just made the damn final! We can’t even beat or tie Trinidad and Tobago, something USA needed to do to qualify for the World Cup. Instead, we got beat by a team that had nothing to play for from a country that has less than two million people. In fact, the population of Trinidad and Tobago is less than San Antonio. Just let that sit for a sec.
Something has to change. I’m not saying that I have the solution, but we need to rethink the whole soccer infrastructure in this country. It shouldn’t be hard for a country with 325 million people to filed one of the top 32 teams in the world.
PS: I’m also really jealous of other countries being able to celebrate their teams and have national pride while they demolish their livers at Biergartens. I really want that in my life. Instead I have to live vicariously through other countries.
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