With Soccer More Popular Than Hockey, You Should be Watching the World Cup
Are you watching the FIFA World Cup? Considering that soccer has overtaken hockey in popularity, according to a recent Gallup poll reported on by Forbes, maybe you should. Additionally, the United States will co-host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico.
The poll indicated that 7% of Americans said soccer was their favorite sport to watch and was the only sport that showed an increase. Hockey was at 4%. Baseball was at 9% in the survey completed last December. Basketball was at 11%. Football remained king at 37%, but that was down from 39% four years prior.
I have watched as much as possible, even picking recorded matches over live Twins' games occasionally. I enjoy the flow of a match and the skill that the players exhibit in moving the ball. There are no commercial breaks during the action and video reviews are completed quickly. Granted the ball hardly goes into the net.
There are a surprising number of scoring chances, even if many games end up low scoring. The knowledgeable announcers get keyed up when a scoring opportunity presents itself and they lose their mind when someone actually scores. Watching the players flop around on a close call is no worse than NFL wide receivers claiming pass interference on every ball thrown their way.
If pulling for an underdog is your thing, Iceland is a candidate. They tied Argentina, who had them quite overmatched and outplayed. It also begs the question, "How is Iceland in the World Cup and the U.S. isn't?" Mexico upended defending champ Germany this week. The host country Russia has exceeded projections by winning their first two matches by blowout margins.
A recurring theme when commercials do run is a jab about the U.S. not being in the tournament. I'm not sure if I should be offended or amused. Did I mention that Iceland is in the tourney? Each time remote TV reports went to their homeland during their match with Argentina, it looked like it was still winter there.
I still hear people say that Americans don't care about 'football.' But four years ago, I was in a small town bar in the mountains of Colorado. When the U.S. played its game, the place was packed with red, white and blue-clad fans.
This seems like a touchy topic in The State of Hockey. And I'll still take hockey over soccer. But this soccer is pretty fun to watch. And the survey says soccer may soon take over baseball too as Americans favorite sports to watch.