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Soccer Fans and Non-fans Alike Rally for World Cup

BY Larisa Epatko  June 18, 2010 at 9:30 AM EDT

Depending on whom you ask soccer is either growing in popularity in the United States, based on the legions of youth who are involved in the sport these days, or by its design will never be as popular as basketball, football or America’s pastime baseball.

The NewsHour spoke to World Cup viewers in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to see what they thought about the world of soccer in the United States.

“I think that the sport has a lot of potential. It’s probably one of the fastest growing sports in the United States,” said Ben Owen, 25, a member of the Screaming Eagles — the fan club for the D.C. United soccer team.

One of the contributing factors is when star players come from other countries to play on U.S. teams, such as England’s David Beckham, who’s now with the LA Galaxy, and France’s Thierry Henry, who signed with the New York Red Bulls, Owen said.

“Stars who are, like, 30 in Great Britain or in Spain, they’d be put out to pasture,” he continued. “But they could come here, still have a career, still have people come out to see them play.”

Watch his full response, given at a large-screen viewing of the World Cup in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.:

Ray Ramelow, 39, of Arvada, Colorado, meanwhile, chose the ESPN Zone in Baltimore to watch the World Cup with his 12-year-old son Zach. He explains why Americans might prefer other sports, such as basketball, football and baseball, over soccer:

Soccer will likely grow in popularity in the United States, observed Stephanie Brooks, 24, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, who was taking a break from watching the televised matches in Baltimore.

“There are a lot of kids playing, and as they grow up, I find that a lot of people who played have become big fans of the game,” she said, so it’s only a matter of time.

Videos shot by Justin Scuiletti and Anna Shoup