Americans have always struggled to enjoy soccer—the world’s most popular sport—with the same fervour that they enjoy home-grown sports like football, basketball and baseball. It is one of their fastest growing sports and currently ranks as one of the top ten biggest spectator sports in the country, but it hasn’t grown with the speed that many have predicted.
For decades people have been saying that the current generation of superstars plying their trade in the MLS will be enough to win over more adherents, but they’ve been saying that since the 1980s, when George Best lined up for the San Jose Earthquakes.
The truth is, in the US the world’s most popular sport is a fringe sport and probably always will be. But what about the second most popular sport in the world, cricket? Streaming live cricket through Youtube and other online platforms can attract young generations easily. Right now it’s a game that is barely known in the US and does little more than confuse American eyes that happen upon it, but that could be set for a drastic and sudden change in the near future.
Cricket could do what soccer failed to do and bring the US onto the world stage, with a truly global sport that they could become truly world class at. To show you just where we’re coming from, here are a few reasons why cricket could become a leading sport, and why the USA could become a leading team, in years to come.
Some of the fastest rising cricket teams in the world right now are relying on an increasing immigrant population to support their national team. Such is the case with the German national team, which consists of many players from India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and is considered to be one of the fastest growing teams on the continent.
The US could benefit in much the same way, utilising its Indian, Pakistan and Afghanistan population to field a world-beating team. It’s a similar story north of the border in Canada, where their fast-rising cricket team consists mostly of Indian immigrants.
Support from Governing Bodies
Cricket’s governing bodies are desperate for the game of cricket to become popular in the United States. It is the richest country in the world and with money from American investors and support from American people cricket can become just as big, if not bigger than football.
As a result, the governing bodies are doing all they can to promote the game here and are always looking for opportunities to give US cricket a helping hand. The same applies to foreign owners, players and fans, as they all know that an American following would provide a massive injection of cash, leading to bigger stadiums, better leagues, more TV coverage, higher wages, and more.
You might be thinking that all of this is redundant considering the US don’t have a cricket team, but they do, and they were granted test status in 2019. This essentially means that they have an official team and have been granted the right to play in the international setup.
They are listed amongst the top 30 cricketing nations, their name can be found on the international league tiers, and they are currently scheduling games against many established nations.
Many cricket betting sites are predicting that the US will struggle over the next few years as they will come up against a lot of experienced teams and players, even if they are poorly ranked. However, experts agree that they experience will prove invaluable for Team USA’s growth and some are going are far as to suggest that they could do what Afghanistan did by rapidly climbing through the league system and then earning a place in the ICC World Cup.
Money and the Franchise System
Soccer doesn’t follow a franchise system and doesn’t work in the same way that all of the USA’s homegrown sports do. It relies on grassroots and typically doesn’t use a franchise system, which is one of the reasons there is so little support for MLS outside of the US.
It’s a different story with cricket though. The biggest domestic leagues in this sport are all franchise leagues that function in much the same way as the NFL, allowing big investors to come in and to build a team from scratch.
A Strong Foundation
Cricket was first played in the US in the 17th century, after being introduced by British settlers. By the middle of the 18th century ig was commonplace throughout the country, albeit to a much lesser extent than many modern sports.
There have also been several attempts at establishing domestic cricket leagues in the country and there are a number of purpose built grounds as well. This isn’t much of a foundation, to be fair, but then you have to consider that many baseball grounds can be quickly converted in cricket fields and many clubs and leagues devoted to the game of baseball can also switch to cricket short-term.
The US has a habit of doing this. In the early days, many of the country’s biggest soccer stadiums were originally designed to host football games. The US also has some of the biggest and most extensive sports training facilities in the world allowing it to quickly train the next generation of superstars whenever it takes to a new sport.
Just look at rugby. Not too long ago it was just as obscure as cricket, but these days the USA is one of the best 7s and 15s nations in the world and has produced some of the best players in the world. These players got their start training to be football players and sprinters, before making the transition to rugby when their talent was spotted.
The same could happen with cricket, and even if it doesn’t everything we discussed above is more than enough to give rise to a successful future for Team USA in the word’s second most popular sport.