Why Soccer Struggles to Capture American Attention During Copa America

Kaylee Everhart

Updated Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 9:22 AM CDT

Why Soccer Struggles to Capture American Attention During Copa America

Sparse Promotion in Host Cities

The Copa America is currently taking place in the United States, but a glaring lack of visible promotion or decoration in host cities is evident. Unlike European countries hosting the Euros, where flags and decorations are ubiquitous, the U.S. cities seem indifferent to this major soccer event. This lack of enthusiasm is noticeable, especially when compared to the vibrant displays seen in European nations.

The contrast is stark and raises questions about the marketing strategies employed. While European countries go all out to create a festive atmosphere, American cities appear to be missing the memo. This might be a reflection of the general American attitude towards soccer, which has yet to deeply integrate into the national culture.

Media Coverage and Public Awareness

American news media have given little to no coverage of the Copa America. This is not a new phenomenon; a couple of decades ago, during the World Cup in Dallas, many locals were unaware of the event, showing more interest in NFL games instead. This lack of media attention contributes to the low public awareness of the tournament.

Most Americans do not follow soccer closely, which is a significant factor in the low awareness of Copa America. The World Cup, however, is expected to generate more hype in the U.S. than the Copa America, thanks to its global appeal and the extensive media coverage it typically receives.

Infrastructure and Hosting Capabilities

The U.S. boasts impressive infrastructure, including 80,000-seat stadiums and major international airports, making it easier and cheaper to host large tournaments. NFL stadiums in the U.S. are expected to be packed for World Cup games, and the endorsement money will be substantial. This infrastructure advantage positions the U.S. as a prime location for hosting major international sports events.

The upcoming World Cup will be expanded, putting a bigger strain on resources. However, the U.S., with its robust infrastructure, is well-prepared to handle the increased demands. The shared hosting duties with Mexico and Canada will also distribute the load, making it a collaborative effort among the North American countries.

Cultural Integration of Soccer

Soccer has not deeply integrated into American culture beyond youth sports, although it is slowly becoming more popular. Shows like Ted Lasso, a popular TV series about soccer, represent the extent of the average American adult's engagement with the sport. This limited cultural integration is a hurdle that soccer needs to overcome to gain widespread acceptance in the U.S.

Hosting the World Cup in the U.S. could increase soccer's popularity, similar to how Americans enjoy the Olympics. The event could serve as a catalyst, drawing more attention to the sport and encouraging more people to follow it. The NBA Finals and NHL Finals are currently capturing more attention in the U.S. than the Copa America, but this could change with increased efforts to promote soccer.

Efforts to Grow Soccer's Popularity

U.S. Soccer is making significant efforts to grow the sport's popularity. Despite the slow growth, soccer is gaining traction in the U.S., even if it has a long way to go. Some American cities mistakenly believed they would host World Cup matches when they were announced as home bases for teams, indicating a growing interest and excitement about the sport's future in the country.

Soccer in the U.S. is still developing, with many players treating the MLS as a retirement league. However, the increasing number of young talents and the efforts to improve the quality of the domestic league are positive signs. The shared hosting of the World Cup with Mexico and Canada is expected to further boost the sport's popularity and integration into American culture.

While the Copa America may not be capturing the American public's attention as much as other sports events, the future looks promising for soccer in the U.S. With the right promotion and continued efforts to grow the sport, soccer could eventually become a staple in American sports culture.

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