Ask me to quickly etch a list of the most influential growth drivers in professional soccer across the United States, my napkin scratching would look something like this:
- Gradual rise of MLS as the country’s most visible professional soccer property
- Related … splashy rise of go-go MLS markets in places like Seattle, Portland, Kansas City, etc.
- Related … the ongoing, critical MLS stadium development
- U.S. men’s and women’s national team success during the “oughts” (2000 until 2009)
- Elevation of English Premier League as a TV presence (especially in last two years as an ESPN weekend staple)
- Ubiquitous availability of global, high-quality soccer via internet and cable platforms (Fox Soccer, GolTV, etc.)
Again, that’s just a quick tumble off the top of my brain (in no certain order), but I’d say those represent some of the critical factors, at least.
Even in a bigger, more thoughtful discussion, I probably could have gone deep, deep into my list before I got to “FIFA Soccer 13” as a game-changer in this country’s evolving taste for professional soccer.
But maybe I’m behind the curve on this one. This piece makes a fairly compelling case that EA Sports, and all that it implies, has added significantly to soccer’s social currency.