June 3, 2019 – Soccer can be the number one spot in America with an easy fix. Soccer has done most things right. For example, more young kids play now play soccer in America than any other sport. Unfortunately, for Major League Soccer “MLS” once these children have grown up, interest in the sport normally wanes. Most kids who grew up playing soccer would rather watch the NFL or the NBA than professional soccer.
I came up with an idea 35 years ago that would make soccer the number one sport in America. I think it is now time to implement this idea. My strategy is to Americanize the sport with some small rule changes. We Americanize everything else: our regional accents, Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, etc. The problem with soccer is that it does not fit with our American attitude.
There is too little of scoring in soccer and at times it is very boring. Worse, it does not touch our American upbringing of always believing we can win. The poorest man on the street believes he can still strike it rich. Many people who are told that they have only days to live go on for decades. In the Super Bowl a few years ago between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots the announcers thought the lead of the Falcons at halftime was so large it could not be overcome. But it was overcome, and the Patriots won that game and in grand style. The quarterback, Tom Brady when interviewed said he never doubted at halftime that his team would win.
So, what does this have to do with soccer? Everything is the answer! Such an easy fix to Americanize soccer. Make it so no lead is to insurmountable to overcome. First bigger, wider goal posts. In 1979 the NBA average salary was 146 thousand a year. National Television viewership had dropped by 26 percent. Two teams were ready to declare bankruptcy and attendance was down 11 percent in several big markets: Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
The league needed to do something, and the 3-point shot was instituted. The 3-point shot made the game more exiting and television friendly. The 3-point shot made it so that any team could from behind and win a game. The NBA is now considering adding a 4-point shot.
Fast forward to 2019 where the valuation of basketball teams has skyrocketed, and the average NBA salary is 7.77 million a year. For the MLS the average salary is 316 thousand and the medium salary is 117 thousand.
In the USA the game is considered by many to be less than exciting due to the low scoring. As one person put it, at least another low scoring sport the NHL has hard checking and fighting to keep it interesting. The solution for the MLS is simple, follow the lead of the NBA by making goals from further distances have higher points attached. Possibly 1 point within 10 yards, 2 points if shot from 20 yards and 3 points if kicked from beyond 30 yards.
The 3-point shot was first used in professional basketball in 1960. It took the NBA many years to adopt it. It also took fans and purist time to accept the change. However, in the end it made professional basketball go from financial disaster to what it is today. Soccer in America should follow this lead and watch average salaries and values of teams rise dramatically over the next ten years. Like the NBA at first the purist will hate the changes, but after some time has passed, the changes will bring the popularity of the game in America to new heights possibly even surpassing the NFL.