America's Forgotten Game: How the 1994 World Cup Revitalized American Interest in Soccer
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Association Football, or ‘Soccer’ here in the US, has long been considered the World’s Game, and connects individuals from all over the world. Teams and players have international renown and some rivalries trace their back to before 1900. Despite this rich history, up until recently, the same did not hold true for the United States. This thesis aims to examine how and why soccer has exploded in popularity since 1994. I focused on 199. the 1994 World Cup had record attendance, viewership numbers, as well as help lead to the founding of Major League Soccer (MLS) two years later in 1996. In a bid to help make my argument, I looked at the four aspects of sports popularity: Television Viewership, Stadium Attendance, Media Coverage, and Youth Involvement.Using figures dating back to the early sixties, newspaper articles, historical footage as well as multiple books covering American Soccer, this thesispaints a picture of how soccer’s popularity in the US has waxed and waned since 1967, with the 1994 World Cup as a spring board for the surge of popularity in the past two decades due to the exposure it brought to the sport here in the United States. Soccer continued to gain in popularity within the US especially amongst the 18-35 age group, as well as amongst the Hispanic population, the fastest growing demographic within the US. Should soccer go on to displace one of the traditional ‘Big Three’ of sports (Baseball, Basketball, and Football), the opening of a whole generation’s eyes and pocketbooks during and after the 1994 World Cup will be a key part of that story.