This is from Jonathan Nahous, an FAU student, who had a school assignment to get a sports memo published:
Embracing the Sport of Soccer in USA
Since the induction of Major League Soccer to the United States in 1996, the league has been trying to appeal to the casual American sports fan to embrace the game. Sport viewership in USA ranks like this, from high to low: National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, NCAA football, NCAA basketball, NASCAR, National Hockey League and then the MLS. Soccer ranks number one in the world broadcast ratings, followed by cricket and then basketball. Reasons behind Americans not embracing the game range from perception of players to the perception of the game itself.
American sport fans argue that soccer is too much of a low scoring game. The final score doesn't dictate how exciting a game is, just how easy it is to add points to the scoreboard. In the 2006 World Cup group play, 2.44 goals per game were scored which equals about a goal every 49 minutes. In the 2008-2009 NHL season a goal was averaged every 28 minutes and 2008 in the NFL a touchdown was scored every 41 minutes.
Another argument is the rule of only three substitutes. In soccer substitutions are limited so that the players that stay on the field have to be fitter and stronger, also the fact that only three substitutes means that the coaches have to be tactical with the changes they decide to make.
The American perception of soccer players is that they are “divers” and also waste precious game time. The argument could be made that the same problem also exists in the NBA. We see Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant complain about fouls continuously and have been witness to exaggerate contact and fake falls. Faking injuries and selling calls are an unfortunate part of sports, but hard to control.
American soccer has grown since 1996 and for the better. USA national players are now playing for big European club soccer teams and the MLS is now having record attendance. I think it’s just a matter of time before Americans accept the game as a part of their culture and embrace the sport like it is theirs.