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WORLD CUP USA '94 : Soccer in America

July 03, 1994|Researched by Jacquelyn Cenacviera / Los Angeles Times

Its roots firmly established in the scores of immigrant communities across the country and its rules nurtured in the well-groomed fields of the Ivy League, soccer has built a substantial following in the United States. But this country's lack of success in international competition has relegated the sport to minor league status for decades. In the late 1960s, however, soccer gained a foothold. First came the professional leagues. Then the ranks of youth soccer began to grow. Soccer can now boast of being one of the most-played youth sport in the United States. World Cup organizers and U.S. soccer officials are gambling that by holding soccer's biggest tournament in America, interest in the professional game would prosper.

Here is soccer's story in numbers:

SOCCER STATES

The top 20 states with the highest average participation in 1991-93. (youth leagues, high school and college participation).

California: 1,630,000 New York 1,304,000 Pennsylvania: 1,094,000 Texas: 860,000 Ohio: 839,000 Florida: 708,000 Missouri: 575,000 Washington: 559,000 Massachusetts: 494,000 Wisconsin: 494,000 Oregon: 452,000 Michigan: 447,000 Maryland: 429,000 New Jersey: 408,000 Minnesota: 405,000 North Carolina: 383,000 Illinois: 379,000 Indiana: 371,000 Colorado: 270,000 Oklahoma: 244,000

WHERE SOCCER STANDS

How soccer ranks among other youth sports.

With participants under 18 years old . . . (in millions) Basketball: 21 Volleyball: 13 Softball: 12 Soccer: 12 Baseball: 10 Football (tackle): 9 Ice Hockey: 1

With participants under 12 years old . . . (in millions) Basketball: 9 Soccer: 7 Softball: 5 Baseball: 5 Volleyball: 4 Football (tackle): 3 Ice Hockey: .5

A SMALLER DRAW

The relatively low cost of maintaining soccer programs make them more attractive to NAIA and small NCAA schools. These smaller schools had more men's soccer programs than football programs in 1993-94.

Soccer Football Division I 194 221 Division II 127 142 Division III 288 198 NAIA 253 117

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

The number of adults signed up to play in the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association. 1992-93: 154,636

YOUTH SOCCER: IT KEEPS GROWING

The American Youth Soccer Organization has nearly half a million players registered in 1993, more than twice the total in 1980.

1993-94: 436,315 * * as of Dec. 31, 1993. Note: Years refer to school years

SOCCER IN HIGH SCHOOL

The number of students participating in soccer has consistently risen. 1992-93 Boys: 242,095 Girls: 149,053 Total: 391,148

COLLEGIATE SOCCER

The number of men's and women's soccer programs in NCAA-member schools.

1993-94 Men's: 609 Women's: 445

THE PROFESSIONAL GAME

The lack of homegrown talent perhaps one of biggest reason professional soccer leagues in the United States have failed to muster a profitable existence. Here are the soccer leagues, past and present, and the years they were established.

Existing: * Continental Indoor Soccer League, 1993 * National Professional Soccer League (indoor), 1993 * American Professional Soccer League (outdoor), 1990

Defunct: * National Profession Soccer league (outdoor), 1967

* United Soccer Association (outdoor), 1967

* North American Soccer League (outdoor), 1968-1984 * North American soccer League (indoor), 1980-82, 1984

* Major Indoor Soccer League, 1978-1992 * American Soccer League, 1921-1984

HAVENS FOR YOUTH SOCCER Concentration of soccer activity in the United States. Ranges show the number of children signed up for U.S. Youth Soccer in 1992-93.

More than 100,001 California Massachusetts New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Texas

50,001 to 100,000 Colorado Connecticut Florida Ohio Virginia Washington

30,001-50,000 Georgia Indiana Michigan Minnesota North Carolina Oklahoma Oregon Wisconsin

10,001-30,000 Arizona Idaho Illinois Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maryland Mississippi Missouri Nebraska New Hampshire New Mexico Rhode Island Tennessee Utah

0-10,000 Alabama Alaska Arkansas Delaware Hawaii Maine Montana Nevada North Dakota South Carolina South Dakota Vermont West Virginia Wyoming

Sources: U.S. Soccer Federation, American Youth Soccer, Sccer Association for Youth, U.S. Youth Soccer Association

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