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The 2014 World Cup final, Argentina vs Germany. Over 26.5 million Americans turned their attention to this event, breaking the previous record of 24.7 million US viewers. Since that fateful day, US viewership has dropped. The 2018 world cup recorded a stunning drop of 44% less viewers in the US. This is partially due to the fact that the US men’s national team failed to qualify for the tournament marking an all time low for the team. In 2014 the USMNT (United State Men’s National Team) managed to make it out of the group of death (Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States) which we were never supposed to make it out of. Making it to the knockout stages where they lost to Belgium 1-0. Since then the quality of our team has dropped and losing games many believed the team should have won, along with tournaments. The question has become why is there this diminishing talent and how it correlates to an unenthusiastic nation.
The state of the game is diminishing in the US. This is happening because the US is alienating the sport making it so only wealthy kids can afford to play. If you’re a parent who makes 30,000 to 40,000 a year how are you possibly supposed to pay $3,000 to $4,000 a year for your kid to play soccer, not including travel and hotel fees. Very few minorities can afford to pay which is upsetting because there is talent at every income level with passion for the game but are told if you don’t have the money, you can’t play. If you look at that compared to Europe or South America, some of the greatest players came from poverty. Dutch professional team AFC Ajax, widely known for their player development, sends recruiters all over to find kids with talent.
They don’t look for who runs the fastest or shoots hardest, this may be a factor of early development, they look for how the players run or their creativity on the pitch. Once they pick out the players they are invited to the Ajax academy. Where parents pay nothing but a insurance fee of 12 euros a year. Where in the U.S. soccer has been made into a pay to play sport.
Doug Andreassen, the chairman of the US Soccer’s “diversity task force”, looks at the game he loves, and all he can see is a system broken in America. He wonders why no one seems to care. He used to carefully word what he was saying, being careful not to push or offend. But nothing seems to change. “People don’t want to talk about it” He states “The system is not working for the underserved community, It’s working for the white kids.” Andreassen watches his countries national teams play, and wishes they had more diversity. Like many of us, he can’t ignore the fact that 2015s Women’s World Cup winners were almost all white, or that several of the non-white players on the US Copa America team grew up overseas.
The talents of America’s best prospects are being suffocated by a process that never lets them be seen.Now some people may say, soccer isnt a very american sport. Why should we care about it and try to make it better. We have enough sports in America why not just let it die. These people don’t want the game to progress in America, or want the sport the become more diverse. Some may argue that the US is making a comeback producing promising stars such as Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, and Weston McKennie. I agree with this but all these players ended up going to europe when they were young. They didn’t have to go through the system.
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