A decade ago, the Houston Major League Soccer team danced around the University of Houston’s marching band during training sessions and even avoided javelins and shot puts being flung across their training pitch. It was evident soccer hadn’t arrived yet in Houston or in our country.
But we’ve come a long way. Soccer has taken off in America, settling behind only football, baseball and basketball in nearly all statistical measures of popularity. However as the three leading sports are seeing a steady decline, Forbes and The New York Times reports soccer participation — from playing, watching, attending, and conversing — is seeing a dramatic increase, especially in Houston. Here are a few key reasons why:
- Increase in youth participation: Up by 89 percent since 1990, the first year the U.S. qualified for the World Cup since 1950, there are approx. 3,060,000 youth participants. The kids of the 90s are also bringing an understanding and appreciation to the game that had not been seen in the US before.
- Exposure to role models: Soccer role models like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Alex Morgan are not only seen in Sports Illustrated, but in US main stream media like Vogue, H&M ads, and Health Magazine, proving to us these athletes are here to claim the money and glitz like all the other celebrities in the business. Not to mention the US Women’s National Team just clinched their 3rd world championship title in 2015 demonstrating what it means to #playlikeagirl on a global scale.
- Shift towards fast-paced exercise activities: People are busier than ever today, so they are choosing activities which enable them to burn off energy (calories) quickly in a fun, social environment.
- Soccer doesn’t discriminate: The oldest sport in the world is appreciated by all ages, sexes, races, and socio-economic levels across the world. You are just as likely to see a 6 year old rich girl with a ball at her feet as a 45 year old poor man. Everyone is welcomed.
- Local Houston support: Thanks to key sport ambassadors and the growing Hispanic population, Houston is rated the #2 soccer market in the US. It is only out ranked by Los Angeles (see chart reference).
This is why we are launching Sphere in our home of Houston. The appetite for being a part of the game is greater than ever. No matter what a person’s past familiarity with the sport is — whether advanced or just starting — we want to open the locker room doors and invite everyone to get soccer fit…mentally, physically, and socially.
Soccer is a simple game that belongs to the world, and, in return, the world finds a way to put its myriad of problems on hold and simply enjoy it together.
Come join the club!