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Soccer vs. Baseball: Which is America’s Favorite?

The 2014 World Cup has been garnering phenomenal television ratings. 18.2 million viewers watched the U.S.-Portugal matchup last Thursday according to Nielsen ratings. 10.7 million tuned in for the U.S.-Germany matchup on Sunday.

In comparison, the 2013 World Series averaged 14.9 million viewers with 19.2 million tuning in for the Game 6 clincher by the Boston Red Sox according to Fox Business News. The World Series overall has had lower television ratings compared to the past, but soccer can hardly be considered the reason for that.

Baseball vs. SoccerBaseball is America’s Pastime, although many people would argue that football has taking over that reign. The NFL is definitely a moneymaking machine, but time will tell if the league can sustain its popularity and continue to trend upwards. Basketball has some superstar power in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, but the league ultimately is not typically in discussions as the most popular American sport.

One thing that Americans love is country pride. The Olympics are popular and have larger viewership on television. The other event that happens every four years, the World Cup, also brings together fans from all over the country. The key part is every four years. Soccer is not at a point where the following would be as big if the World Cup happened every year. It would definitely gain attention due to the few number of matches.

There are three guaranteed World Cup games in comparison to 162 regular-season Major League Baseball games and four guaranteed World Series games. The United States can play up to seven games if it advances to the finals or 3rd place game. That is seven games every four years. Of course it is a bigger deal than one game of a World Series or even an entire World Series to some fans.

Here is how I know that soccer is not close to taking over baseball in terms of popularity in the United States: I would rather pay to watch a baseball game than watch a soccer game for free. I am referring to television and the ability to buy an MLB.TV season pass (or other baseball subscription) to watch most live games. Major League Soccer is aired on television, but I couldn’t tell you when the games are without looking up the information. Football is Sundays at 1 and 4 PM. Baseball is everyday at either 1 or 7 PM. Basketball is at night. I really don’t know when soccer matches are played for MLS.

Maybe that is just me being a lifelong baseball advocate and very new to the soccer fandom. I am definitely intrigued to get into Major League Soccer after seeing the popularity of the World Cup. I even went to watch the last U.S friendly match before the team left for Brazil.

Baseball vs. Soccer

Baseball’s WBC is nowhere near as meaningful to fans as the World Cup

Baseball has tried to get a multinational following with the World Baseball Classic that it holds every four years just like the World Cup. However, it is held during spring training and not every country has its best players. The country pride is not equal among all teams, as it is especially lacking for the U.S., and the concept is not even close in comparison to soccer’s World Cup. After attending the WBC in Miami, it was apparent that the Dominican Republic and Cuba had much more pride on the line as seen by both their players and fans. The American players treated it as spring training and really didn’t care about winning or losing.

Soccer more popular than baseball?

Could soccer overtake baseball in terms of popularity in the United States? Not anytime soon. There is too much history and money in baseball. MLS is in its infancy and will hopefully grow and succeed, but it is nothing compared to Major League Baseball in terms of firepower. The other big factor is getting top talent to play in America whether it is signing players from other countries in their prime or grooming American-born soccer players. Soccer has to compete with other sports for athletes, which is probably the biggest obstacle it faces.

If there was more money to be paid to professional soccer players in MLS, do you think that would attract more kids to practice soccer over football or baseball? Probably. The prospect of getting paid intrigues every young athlete. The problem is that every kid wants the salaries of LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez, and Peyton Manning.

Baseball and soccer are more different than they are alike, but it isn’t entirely fair to compare the two as equals. Soccer is played in virtually every country in the world. Baseball is widespread but is less popular in places like Europe and Africa. Each succeeds on its biggest stage. The difference is that baseball’s biggest stage occurs in America every year and soccer’s biggest stage changes location every four years. There needs to be a monumental event in U.S. soccer to get people’s attention and hold them over the three years there isn’t a World Cup.

Comments

  1. I AM A SPORT PHOTOGRAPHER, AND HAVE THE BLESSING OF ENJOYING ALL SPORTS IN THE FRONT LINES (AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN GET). I CAN SAY, I ENJOY MOST SPORTS. BUT I ALSO HAVE TO SAY THAT BASEBALL IS THE LEASE OF ALL. IT IS A TORTURE COVER A BASEBALL GAME FOR ME, LESS WATCH ONE FOR FUN. THE LACK OF CONTINUES ACTION AND THE LONG THREE PLUS HOURS ARE NOT QUITE PLEASANT. TWO YEARS AGO I COVERED THE FINALS FOR THE BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE IN LIBERTY UNIVERSITY, AND ONE GAME LASTED FIVE HOURS. OUTCH…

    MANY PEOPLE IN MY AREA SHARE THE SAME FEELINGS FOR BASEBALL. COME TO GREENSBORO, NC ON A SATURDAY AND VISIT BRYAN PARK. DURING EARLY FALL AND SPRING THE GUSA TOURNAMENTS ARE GOING ON; WE HAVE 16 FIELDS WITH SOCCER GAMES ALL DAY LONG. WE START WITH KIDS AT 4 YEARS OLD. IF THIS IS HAPPENING IN ALL OUR COUNTRY, I SAY WATCH-OUT BASEBALL, WE ARE TAKING YOU PLACE AS THE AMERICAN SPORT OF THE 21ST CENTURY.

    BY THE WAY, I AM PUERTORICAN, AND I GROWTH UP PLAYING BASEBALL AS MY PRIMARY SPORT FOLLOW BY BASKETBALL AND VOLLEYBALL.

  2. The reason why the World Cup is every 4 years is because 1) there are 180+ teams registered in World Cup qualifying by FIFA/ and this sabbatical allows these other countries that may not have qualified for the previous World Cup an opportunity to qualify for the upcoming World Cup. 2) Having those (up to) seven games every four makes scoring and winning in them even sweeter when the time rolls around because the stakes are higher than ever before. In baseball, there are 162 games in an average season which means that winning EVERY game is not neccessaey, but if one is to have success in the World Cup or domestic competitions it is just about required that a win is needed from every game. 3) if the World Cup or any other internationally rebound soccer tournament was held every year the players would be worn out. Plain and simple. Depending on which league and division the player plays in, they have 38+ league games, multiple domestic single-elimination tournaments, international friendlies and Confederation tournaments (Euros for Europe or the Copa America for Conmebol- S. America), confederation wide tournaments for the top teams from each country ( Champions League for Europe, one for N. America, S. America etc). All of these could potentially add up to more than 50 matches not even counting the World Cup Qualifiers. The elite players from each country that compete in the World Cup more times than not play for a club that participates and is successful in each of the previous mentioned competitions. If the World Cup was held every year there would be a mass exodus of players leaving the game due to overuse and injury because the players that play in the World Cup aren’t average Joe’s, they are the world’s best and push their bodies to the limit in every 90 minutes in every game.

    Thank you

    • Travis Coverston says:

      Professional soccer players and professional baseball players are both the world’s best at what they do. That’s why they are paid and called professionals. There is a surplus of soccer games and a surplus of baseball games. To compare the World Cup schedule to the regular MLB season is unfair. Comparing the playoffs to the World Cup is a more accurate debate. A baseball team in the playoffs is allowed to lose games as long as they win the series, but in the World Cup, teams are also allowed to lose matches as long as they win the group.

      Single elimination games are the same either way – win and advance or lose and go home. There are more single elimination games in the World Cup than in baseball.

      As far as pushing one’s body to the limit every game, it depends on the player and the situation. Soccer requires constant movement with moments of explosion. Baseball is steady with moments of explosion. Players rest between those explosion moments no matter what sport it is.

      No matter what the argument is, soccer is not as popular as baseball in the USA. Baseball’s biggest stage, the World Series, is a domestic event that happens every year. Soccer’s biggest stage, the World Cup, happens every 4 years and is an international event. That is perhaps the biggest factor.

      • Losing games in the World Cup results in elimination from the tournament no matter the stage of the tournament. If a team loses the game, they only have 2 other games to make up for a loss. In the modern game displayed by the best players in the world, just about every player has constant explosiveness and little to no rests. The resting period comes with a 15 minute halftime and a couple of seconds for a stoppage of play (throw in or goal kicks) fouls cannot be considered a resting period because if any player defending rests, they opposition will catch them out and exploit the weak link. Outside backs/outside mids are probably the positions with the greatest explosive demand due to their need in the final third of the field and their defensive duties heavily needed to combat the counter-attacking style of the opposing outside backs/mids. Center midfielders also have the requirement to be “box-to-box” mids that constantly contribute in fast-paced attacking and maintaining leverage over tricky attacking midfielders on the defensive side of the ball. Baseball players on the other hand, lounge around the dugout on the offensive inning with a slight chance with good pitchers, of actually hitting the ball and running a short distance at full speed. On a baseball defensive inning, players have shown tremendous athletic feats that I am impressed with, such as a full length diving catch or stealing a home run over the fence but those moments happen only once and a while. Point is, baseball players move little but their movement is fast and athletic and soccer players are in constant high pace movement with little time for rest.

        • Travis Coverston says:

          There are pros and cons that can be made for athletes of both sports. That is not the point of this article. The point is that baseball is more popular in America.

          • Julien Carlos says:

            Soccer Game: 2 hours of Monotonous, continuous play

            Baseball game: 3-4 hours of slow, staggered play.

            Take your pick.

          • Travis Coverston says:

            Monotonous and continuous does not always equal entertaining. What you consider slow and staggered is based on prolonged concentration and short bursts of full speed. Hitting a Major League fastball is somewhat like defending a PK. Think about doing that for 3-4 hours.

  3. "A lifelong soccer advocate" says:

    This explains everything. “Maybe that is just me being a lifelong baseball advocate”.

    • Travis Coverston says:

      It doesn’t matter what sport you personally like; baseball is a bigger sport in America.

      • 70,000 people recently went to Arizona to watch the US Mens national soccer team play Colombia in the Copa America Centenario 3rd place match and 80,000 also went to see the US take on Argentina in the semi finals of Copa America. When has baseball ever attracted 150,000+ fans for two games? The tides are turning in America. Soccer is a bigger market in Ameroca now and also on the rapid incline to being a top, respected sport in the US

        • Travis Coverston says:

          Baseball does not have stadiums that large. It is a sport that is tailored more for television. Soccer is tailored more for live action… the television viewers watch big US games, but that is about it. How many fans go to MLS games vs MLB games? The biggest soccer events in the US are when the Men’s National team is in an international tournament, unfortunately… those tournaments happen every 3 or 4 years. There is too much idle time between marquee events. To say soccer is a bigger market is completely relative – if those US games happened 162 times a year, there wouldn’t be 70,000 fans at every match.

        • In 2008, for an exhibition game between The Red Sox and Dodgers a red crowd 114,000 was there. If you don’t believe me look it up. And Mexico has recently said they want to be seen as a baseball country over soccer. And Colombia says they have a bright future for baseball. Italy isn’t even bad in the WBC and the WBC is expanding every time with the number of teams in subqualifiers and qualifiers.

  4. The Hobbs Family says:

    baseballs asome soccer is super boring and sucks

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