Last year, much of the country was abuzz after seeing the number of American viewers who tuned in to watch the Men’s World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.
But on Sunday, July 5, the final Women’s World Cup match-up between the U.S. and Japan brought in an even more momentous viewership — and the U.S. women’s victory is already turning out to be hugely influential, especially for young girls.
According to Forbes, an incredible 23 million American viewers tuned in to watch this year’s Women’s World Cup Final. That’s significantly more than the 17 million or so Americans who watched the Men’s World Cup Final last summer. The broadcast brought in unprecedented ratings for a women’s sporting event.
The success of our women’s national soccer team is a testament to the huge leap in popularity that soccer has made in the U.S. since its last World Cup victory in 1999.
This is no more apparent than it is in the world of girls’ soccer. U.S. Youth Soccer data has revealed that girls’ participation in youth soccer leagues and soccer summer camps has gone up 37% over the last two decades.
Between 1999 and 2014, there was an incredible 45% rise in the number of girls playing in high school soccer programs, as well. Currently, 209,000 girls across the country play high school soccer. Thanks to this, soccer is the second most popular youth sport in the country.
Given the huge viewership of this year’s Women’s World Cup Final, it’s safe to say that these percentages will only continue to go up in the near future, explained Ian McMahon, National Executive Director of the American Youth Soccer Organization.
“Anytime there is a success as high profile as this, with this record number of viewers, for us as an organization, we would expect to see a surge in young girls wanting to play soccer,” McMahon said. “We believe that, with what we offer, they’ll come in and want to play soccer longer and become advocates for the game.”
With children needing at least 60 minutes of exercise daily to stay fit, getting more girls to play soccer is a fantastic way for them to stay healthy while emulating their heroes on the women’s national soccer team.