The Seattle Sounders were mentioned in a fascinating article today in the Sports Business Daily/Journal regarding the rise of soccer’s popularity in the United States. This is one of my many bailiwicks, the growing interest of the world’s favorite sport in our country.
I don’t know why I am so fascinated by the star-crossed love story between America and soccer. Maybe it’s because I just love soccer and am egotistical enough to want to see the world in my own image. Maybe it’s because I’m a pinko socialist and I see us embracing soccer as a harbinger of the end of American exceptionalism and hegemony. If Americans fall in love with soccer, are we admitting that we are just another citizen of the international community and must respect our peers and play nice? I don’t know, but it is pretty exciting, for all American soccer fans, that MLS is elbowing in at the NFL and MLB’s table. I am not a huge American chauvinist, but I am for Seattle. And the Sounders were one of the few MLS franchise mentioned directly:
[Sports Management professor Galen] Trail saw the impact of that stadium experience when studying season-ticket holders of the Seattle Sounders.
Buyers in that first year most often bought because they felt an attachment to their city, and also because they wanted to support MLS. They typically were not avid fans of soccer in general. Those people — the aficionados who were watching matches from around the globe and reading about tactics and transfers — wanted no part of Sounders season tickets.
But in the second season, Trail saw a significant shift among Sounders buyers.
“Watching the Sounders the first year caused a bunch to buy the second year,” Trail said. “And these people were totally different in their behaviors. They followed the game internationally. But they didn’t see the product of the Sounders being of sufficient quality to follow the first year. After seeing it a little bit, and seeing the crowd, they became interested sufficiently to buy season tickets. They’re the ones who follow the EPL and are in the soccer bars. Now they follow the Sounders as well.”
I mentioned earlier in this blog that Seattle has a unique soccer destiny. As soccer’s popularity grows, so do the Sounders’ fortunes. This franchise will be a Big Four, or whatever, team in American sports for a long time. It is odd to think the Sounders will nestle in among the other international sporting giants: Lakers, Yankees, Cowboys, Barcelona and Arsenal. We are lucky to live and breathe Sounders at the advent of their coronation.