Is soccer becoming America’s pastime?

Which sport is America’s national pastime? For decades the answer was simply baseball. Now, the answer is football. But does football’s grip on our nation’s collective heart wane a bit as another type of “fútbol” grips the nation through the World Cup?

For many U.S. Hispanics, the answer is yes. Soccer has been a game of many Hispanic nations and cultures for decades, so it’s a natural extension to expect a certain degree of that fandom to transcend into these culture’s American lives. And while the National Football League’s Hispanic-focused promotions have paid off in the form of 25 million Hispanic fans, it hasn’t necessarily come at the expense of one of their more native games.

If a young person in your household plays soccer, it’s not surprising. Soccer is now the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., with 15 million players, and 30 percent of all households have at least one member who plays the sport, according to ESPN.

Huge sports figures like English soccer star David Beckham have made the sport more popular than baseball among young Americans, age 12 to 17. In fact, soccer, in general, is the second-most popular sport for Americans aged 12 to 24, bigger than pro basketball, pro baseball and college football.

Our nation’s Hispanic population consists of a large number of passionate sports fans. 94 percent of Hispanic men call themselves sport fans, with 56 percent falling into the avid category.

The two demographic groups most passionate about soccer are young adult, those ages 18 to 29, and Hispanics. Demographers expect the Hispanic population to triple by 2050 making up roughly one-third of the population, and Hispanic sport preferences differ starkly from those of other Americans.

Football remains the most popular sport among young adults, but soccer is the runner-up. Thirty-two-percent of young adults say football is their favorite sport, compared to 13 percent who say soccer, 10 percent who say basketball and just 7 percent who say baseball. Further, soccer fans tend to be much younger than other fans. The average age of Americans who say soccer is their favorite sport is just 37, while the average age for football fans is 46 and for baseball 53. If baseball is America’s past and football is its present… then soccer may be its future.

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