‘Fast’ Eddie Johnson was in town last night to get a feel for the New York scene and learn more about how we do things here. Eddie, you see, is our newest London employee and quite the amateur athlete: he plays cricket and soccer.
As we kicked around sports topics over a few drinks, Eddie inquired as to David Beckham’s impact on professional soccer in the States. I had to pause to recall that, indeed, the Euro soccer god with matinee idol looks was in fact toiling away for some American team.
That’s when I shook my head and told Eddie the sad truth about professional soccer here in the Colonies. Despite at least 25 years of all-out marketing, advertising and word-of-mouth, pro soccer has failed to take root in the States. Aside from a few avid fans (a la ice hockey), US pro soccer matches are primarily attended by ex-pats and foreign nationals. And why does this matter to soccer? Because America is the world’s largest market. Soccer could earn billions and billions in additional revenue if they could conquer the US market.
There are probably any number of sociological and psychological reasons why Americans have turned a cold shoulder to the sport. In my mind, though, it goes back to the product. For whatever reason we don’t find the product interesting. And when consumers don’t like a product or service, all the advertising and PR in the world can’t help.
So, Beckham can keep on bending it here in the States, but the only necks that will be bending to watch will be his fellow Brits and others from countries outside our borders.