A Changing Sports World: America and Soccer

The life of an immigrant in America is anything but conventional. There are countless things one comes to learn about this nation by way of pure exposure to culture. Having come from Bulgaria, I predicted that the passions of Americans would differ drastically from those most prevalent in the rest of the world. America has always presented itself as being divergent, but also as being a leader. The proverbial “city on a hill” has always set a political and economic example that other, less powerful nations use as a benchmark to evaluate their progress. The question is, can we say as much about America from a cultural perspective?

To evaluate this question, we can look to sports. There is nothing more global than a common passion that almost serves as a universal language. Throughout the world, football, or soccer (admittedly an American fabrication) serves this type of purpose. The majority of the world’s nations cite football as the dominant sport within their culture and some even go as far as comparing it to religion. If you think this claim is an exaggeration, I urge you to visit a nation such as Brazil, where the kick of a ball precedes the first roll of the tongue. The sport is entirely engrained in the culture and a single match has the power to unify or divide an entire nation.

Can this phenomenon be achieved in the United States? Basketball, football, and baseball all serve as national sports, but there are few people who harbor an equal amount of passion for all three. Football season always brings about feverish fanaticism, but it doesn’t ever seem as if the entire nation is unified over a single event, barring the heavily advertised colossus that is the Superbowl. Different regions of the country seem to swarm around distinct sports, so sectionalism is unavoidable.

Until recent times, “soccer” had been relegated to a lowly place on the ranking of sports in America. It was simply seen as a way in which kindergarteners, pre-schoolers, and elementary school students could get their exercise without any serious commitment. Starting in middle school, soccer was abandoned and most likely replaced by sports more in tune with American culture. The passion behind soccer has always seemed rather foreign to the American people. This is one of the first things I noticed when I initially set foot on an American playground as a ten-year-old immigrant. As late as the early 2000s, the majority of participants in soccer programs across the United States were likely to be of foreign descent. This begs the question, how has such a global phenomenon had such difficulty penetrating American culture? The question will likely remain unanswered.

An encouraging move was eventually made in 2007, when a footballing icon in the form of David Beckham made his move from Spanish giants Real Madrid to the Los Angeles Galaxy. America was buzzing. Youngsters were starstruck and, for the first time, felt passion for the beautiful game. Training facilities were expanded, the media increasingly began to integrate soccer into mainstream culture, and the nation’s attention turned to something it had been missing for years. There are bright times ahead for soccer in America and we can only hope its progress remains unimpeded.


Social Media for College Athletics 101

Facebook is not only used to stalk people you went to high school with and to keep in touch with current friends while in college.  Collegiate athletes have been using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to promote their games, to grow their fan base, and to communicate well throughout their team.

Aside from Division I basketball and football teams, college sports do not get too much recognition.  It is a sad sight when you and your team are all pumped up for a big game against a rival and you look at your stands and see only a few parents and maybe someone’s boyfriend.

To rectify this situation, getting the word out about your team on Facebook is one of the best steps to take.  Between 80 and 90 percent of college students are not only on Facebook, but also are daily active users.  Creating a Facebook event a week or so before that rival game and having everyone on the team invite their friends is a great way to sell those tickets.

Creating a Facebook page for your team is another great way to gain support.  Having a team member create the page and invite their friends, then have other teammates “suggest friends” to their friends could be a great way to keep fans involved.  Posting statuses bi-weekly or even daily about recent games would remind college students of the game on their Facebook News Feeds, which is a place they are known to look when using Facebook.

Twitter is another great promotional tool.  Having teammates tweet a link to the school’s athletic website is a great way to start, along with tweeting game information.

Within a team, creating a Facebook group is a step closer to great communication, and one step away from those pestering group text messages.  Ensuring that everyone has and uses Facebook is obviously essential before doing so.  Also creating the group based off of the roster is a must to guarantee no one is forgotten.

Finally, posting highlights on YouTube shows college students why they should go to your game.  Getting a parent or the school even to video tape a game and having a film student edit it into a highlight reel could then be posted to YouTube and posted on the team’s Facebook page, tweeted, and posted by teammates.

Good luck this upcoming season and best of luck packing those stands!


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