Recently, one of my news anchors (did I mention I’m a news producer) and I were watching a story about the World Cup craze in the US. The reporter was wearing a jersey and kicking around a soccer ball. We both groaned and rolled our eyes because as a soccer fan and a derby fan, we’ve seen that sort of stand up too often. No one does that with any other sport. But aside from the hokey bit, the reporter did a story that we in the derby community have been begging for: monetary impact.
A little over a year ago, Hard Dash wrote a fantastic post about journalists missing the $50 million dollar story about derby. She talks about how much money skaters spend on themselves a year and how much fans will spend on the sport. The issue was, and still is, making it apparent to journalists and companies that derby means money.
According to an article from the Savannah Morning News (that I may have “borrowed” from the break room at work), the Sunday draw against Portugal was the “most-watched soccer game in American history with 24.7 million TV viewers.” Compare that to the 14.9 million who tuned into the World Series game of Boston vs. St. Louis last year. Pretty darn impressive, and advertisers are ready to cash in on that popularity.
So why is soccer (or football as everyone else calls it) finally seeing that breakthrough in American media coverage? It’s the kids.
Soccer enjoyed a brief popularity in the US during the 70s thanks to Brazilian superstar Pelé. Since then, the sport has seen gradual rises and falls in popularity. But now that children who grew up playing soccer are hitting the 18-24 demographic, American companies are seeing dollar signs. They know those kids-turned-adults are watching the World Cup, and they have money to burn on all things soccer.
I’d like to think that derby doesn’t have to wait for our junior players to grow up before we start seeing that kind of coverage. It does help opening the door to more and more people to get involved in this awesome sport. The more we encourage junior derby, men’s derby, and co-ed derby the less of a “mysterious” sport it will be to those who have never played.
Oh, and one more thing.