High-Profile Victory is Expected to Translate into More Programs, More Demand for Fields, Field Time
As the world heads into an Olympic cycle, soccer – particularly women’s soccer – is riding high. In fact, according to an article in Forbes, girls soccer is on the rise since the spectacular performance of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
According to U.S. Youth Soccer, girls’ club soccer participation is up 37% in the last 20 years, while participation in high school soccer programs also has seen a boost of 45% between 1999 and 2014.
The National Federation of State High School Associations records similar gains. In fact, soccer has rarely left the top 10 sports at the high school level, according to its annual participation survey.
“There is no question that we will be a beneficiary of this victory,” Ian McMahon, national executive director of the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), told Yahoo Parenting. “Anytime there is a success as high profile as this, with this record number of viewers, for us as an organization, we would expect to see a surge in young girls wanting to play soccer. We believe that, with what we offer, they’ll come in and want to play soccer longer and become advocates for the game.”
It’s expected the boost this will lead to a growth of the sport at all levels – the rec, youth, school and travel team levels – as well as even on the adult side. That will translate into more competition and more demand for field time – and for facilities as well.
The numbers are pretty impressive. The U.S.’s recent win was the most-watched soccer event in the history of American television. The women’s match this year brought in around 23 million American viewers to its Fox broadcast, significantly more than the 17+ million viewers who tuned in to watch the men’s final just a year ago. It is unprecedented that a women’s sporting event would pull in that sort of viewership, as it blew other “elite” women’s sporting events like the Olympics and the WNBA Playoffs completely out of the water. The ratings are not even close.
Oh, and by the way, this comes at a great time, says the Sports Fitness Industry Association, which noted that electronic gaming is being described as a ‘sport,’ and that many parents are buying into the phenomenon.
“There is a growing category of electronic gaming called ‘e-sports’, which is basically organized multi-player video competitions,” noted SFIA. “This has become a huge industry with millions of participants. Ironically, if you look at the list of the top 50 ‘sports’ (see list here), only two or three seem to be traditional sports or games.”
In fact, SFIA notes, nearly one in four children age 5-16 think video gaming is a form of exercise and two universities, Robert Morris University (IL) and the University of Pikesville (KY), are now giving athletic scholarships to those playing video games.