Cleveland (WOIO) - The critics claim that soccer can't grow in our country? Well, the numbers are in, and they tell a different story. An estimated 21.6 million people in America watched Belgium knock out Team USA on Wednesday, more than the average of viewers who tuned in for the NBA Finals, and last year's World Series, and those two series were in prime-time. The USA-Belgium game kicked off at 4pm Eastern, when many people were still at work.
More than that, Neilsen doesn't measure viewership in bars or offices, and we've seen enough Watch Parties to know that the final ratings would be much higher if Neilsen did.
Does this mean that soccer is going to be King someday? Of course not. This is the World Cup we're talking about. It only comes along every four years, which adds to the excitement. Also, thanks to Brazil's time zone, the games were played at reasonable hours. And, of course, we're talking about the best players in the world. For soccer to truly ride this momentum in America, we'd have to keep the top players on our soil and create a top league, and be able to watch them on a consistent basis. That isn't going to happen. Yet.
But the U.S. Men's National team isn't going away. They've taken another step forward, and will only increase their fan base. And the drama of watching multiple nations come together, to compete at the highest level, and put on a spectacular display, will only grow this sport.
Someday, maybe soccer will be part of the ongoing national discussion when it comes to sports in America. If the games are anything like what's taking place in Brazil, I'll be watching, and I won't be alone.
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