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Subject: Will Gen Z popularize Major League Soccer (MLS)?

Written By: SeaCaptainMan97 on 01/24/19 at 10:11 pm

Soccer is the world's most popular sport, by far. In most countries, they know it as "football" rather than "soccer", as they don't use the imperial measuring system from which gridiron (American) football got its name. The World Cup is the world's holy grail of sporting events, even more popular than the Olympics. It's most popular in Europe, Africa, and Latin America, with a few exceptions, but not so much in Asia or North America (Canada and the US). The US is an interesting example that's the topic of today's thread.

Since the mid-late 20th Century, the big four major sports leagues in the United States have always been the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, so gridiron football, basketball, hockey, and baseball.
You'd be more likely to prefer one over the other if your city hosted one of those sports and not the other, but if you were lucky, your city hosted all four, and you had teams to root for in all four leagues, like how the Boston area has the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Red Sox, how Denver has the Broncos, Nuggets, Avalanche, and Rockies, how Dallas has the Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, and Rangers, you get the idea, so if your team had all four, you were more likely to care about all four.
All four of these sports franchises are well established and go back before the advent of television, the NBA has been around since 1946, the NFL since 1920, the NHL since 1917, and the MLB going way back to 1869, which is 150 years ago!
Now, what about soccer?
Enter the MLS, or Major League Soccer. This league is often touted as the "fifth major sports league", so bumping the big four into the big five major sports leagues for the US. Yet, the MLS has become more of a laughing stock than a great addition. Average viewership of MLS games on ESPN tend to top about 350 thousand views. Average PGA viewership, on the other hand, averages over 3 million, and that's golf! Americans would rather watch golf than soccer, that just goes to show how detached the US is from the rest of the world. I live in the Denver area, and most people I know tend to not even know the Colorado Rapids even exist, I'm sure it's also that way with New Englanders and the Revolution, or people from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area with FC Dallas.

But can a certain demographic change that?
Enter Generation Z, the demographic I define as being born since 2000 (with 1994-1999 borns having varying degrees of Z influence).
One survey showed the MLS to be twice as popular amongst Gen Z as it was among older generations. It's ranked more popular among them than the NHL, and possibly even the MLB as well given the 3 point margin of error.
One explanation as to why MLS is growing in popular among Gen Z is likely due to the fact that the cohort has a higher percentage of Latino Americans, whom are far more likely to support soccer than their White American counterparts as most of them come from countries like Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, etc. where soccer is a huge deal.

Do you think Gen Z will help make the MLS more mainstream in the American public, or do you believe it's a small growth that doesn't mean much in hindsight?
As for me, I do believe the MLS has potential, but I do believe it needs to be re-marketed if it truly wants to be relevant.
One major suggestion is for MLS teams to stop using the "FC" tagline following their city, or using other tag-names like "Real" or "Sporting" , that kind of thing may work well in Britain, but here in the US, they should stick to using actual mascots, like the teams in the other four major sports leagues do. Here's how the names should be;

Western Conference
Colorado Rapids (no name change)
Dallas Sheriffs (FC Dallas)
Houston Dynamo (no name change)
LA Galaxy (no name change)
San Diego Seals (Los Angeles FC, relocated)
Minnesota Yetis (Minnesota United FC)
Portland Timbers (no name change)
Salt Lake Stingers (Real Salt Lake)
San Jose Earthquakes (no name change)
Seattle Sounders (minor change, Seattle Sounders FC)
Kansas City Bandits (Sporting Kansas City)
Vancouver Whitecaps (minor change, Vancouver Whitecaps FC)

Eastern Conference
Atlanta Alligators (Atlanta United FC)
Chicago Fire (no name change)
Cincinnati Farmers (FC Cincinnati)
Columbus Jets (Columbus Crew SC)
DC Capitals (DC United)
Montreal Impact (no name change)
New England Revolutionaries (New England Revolution)
New York Captains (New York City FC)
New Jersey Red Bulls (New York Red Bulls, remarketed since they play in New Jersey)
Orlando Oilers (Orlando City SC)
Philadelphia Union (no name change)
Toronto Polar Bears (Toronto FC)

What do y'all think? Also, what's your imput on the main topic of Gen Z and the MLS?
Let me know in the comments below.

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