When Tony Allegretti was growing up in the Panhandle, he couldn’t turn on the TV to watch football matches in Liverpool.
“I had to rent the greatest goal of 1984 over and over again,” he said. “That’s why I chose Everton. The volley from Graeme Sharp. With so much available now, it’s a dream.”
Now not only can he watch his Everton FC, my Liverpool FC or any other Premier League team, he can wake up before dawn to catch Serbia and Cameroon in the 2022 World Cup group stage. He could even use part of the weekend to visit Wrexham, a lower division Welsh side owned by actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds.
He will not be alone in America.
I know this partly because I’ve done all of the above, but mostly because when the US played England on Black Friday, over 15 million Americans tuned in, making it one of the most watched football games ever in the country One (but still nearly $10 million behind the 2015 U.S. women’s race). There are several viewing parties in Jacksonville that can be found everywhere from the ballpark to Culhane’s Irish Pub on the South Side.
“The restaurant has a capacity of 350 people and we were able to take the last spot,” Allegretti said.
For Team USA’s game on Tuesday — against Iran, to decide whether the U.S. advances to the round of 16 or goes straight home — they plan another viewing party at the Intuition Bier Hall.
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It all bodes well for plans to bring professional football back to Jacksonville, with a team to start playing in 2025, under the leadership of a team that includes Allegretti and an American soccer player named Tim Tebow — — that is, the year before the World Cup returns to North America.
I’m writing this ahead of Tuesday’s game. But without knowing the outcome, and without knowing what will happen nationally and locally over the next four years, I can predict a few things:
A) Those Americans who are already football fans will wonder if this is a tipping point and if the sport will finally become as popular here as it is almost everywhere else on Earth.
in american football is king
In America, the national pastime is no longer baseball, my first love. It has clearly become American football, from college to the NFL.
While soccer’s foothold in the U.S. has certainly increased — it’s now the fourth most popular sport in the U.S., according to a 2019 Gallup survey — soccer has cemented its place in the U.S. sports food chain. status. Some people who follow American football have no interest in adding football to their sports diet.
After the 0-0 draw between the United States and England, there was a saying: “I don’t watch football. If I want to watch a guy trying to score in 90 minutes, I’ll take my friend to a pub.”
I saw a post on Facebook where someone rants about it and concludes: “Stupid third world sport. Football absolutely sucks!”
Everyone has their own. I watch football. a lot of. I have a hard time watching full NFL games, but I’ve been known to watch multiple football games in one weekend.
It does involve a different way of seeing. Americans are used to movements defined by circumstances and statistics, interrupted from time to time by repeated interruptions of advertising. It is 4 inches on the 2 yard line. It was the eighth inning, two outs, a runner in the second inning, a hitter with a .
I still love baseball, which I guess means I watch two sports that many Americans find boring.
I can try to explain how I got into football. How it probably started playing in high school and college (simply put, low level). How it really took root when I spent a term in England and played in a top game (Arsenal vs Liverpool) and a couple of games at Cambridge United’s old Abbey Stadium. How memorable it was to cover the 1994 World Cup and the US women’s gold medal win in Athens (Georgia and Greece). Deciding to choose a club to follow not only made me passionate about that team, but also made me watch more games involving more teams, leagues and countries.
I can try to explain the appeal.
But for the past 40 years, I’ve probably written about it in some form or fashion every four years. I know other people try to convert non-fans to see the light, which is probably one of the reasons many non-fans are against the sport.
This won’t be another of those columns. I’m not saying, “Tim Tebow’s into football and so should you!”
Instead, I had a kind of epiphany.
When to Become an American Football Fan
Never mind the future of American soccer.
For American football fans, we may already be living in a golden age.
Some of it is technology. Gone are the days of renting the ‘Greatest Goal of 1984’. Technology has advanced to the point where it’s possible to watch live games from around the world (although it does require quite a mix of streaming services).
Let me say that part of what might make this a golden age for American football fans is the development of the game here, both on and off the field. By some measurements, there are seven times as many followers as there were decades ago. It has definitely reached the point where you know you are not alone.
If I was wearing a Liverpool shirt or hat in public, chances are someone would comment on it. A player or game can even be mentioned. Even if they support another team, there will be a partnership. We are football fans in America.
This leads to an epiphany.
have something to say because football no the king of this country, it No Developed to the same extent as the rest of the world, being an American football fan is still like being in your own club. A steadily growing club. But still a bond between fans, unlike football fans in Argentina or England, or NFL fans in the US.
Roger Bennett, host of the popular Blazers podcast, likes to quip that soccer has been America’s “sport of the future” since 1972.
Fifty years after 1972, discussions about the future continue. But for American fans, there is something to be said for cherishing the present.