For many kids in the United States, playing football, or baseball is a natural choice as far as a team sport.
But for many reasons such as low risk of injury or effectiveness in fitness, soccer is becoming the better and safer option for kids in the US.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world in terms of player numbers. According to the 2006 FIFA Big Count, there were 265 million soccer players in the world, 270 million when referees and match officials were included.
Soccer players don't need the physical strength of football players. Athleticism and fitness are important, but you don't need to be physically imposing to play soccer. Some of the world's top players, such as Lionel Messi, rely purely on skill and creativity rather than strength and stature. This makes soccer a more inclusive sport than football.
Soccer players don't need to spend large amounts of money on equipment. The two most costly items are soccer cleats and a ball, and neither need be overly expensive. A jersey, shorts and shin guards are the only other requirements. Football players must buy a large number of protective items for competitive play.
Easy to Learn
It doesn't take long to learn the basics of soccer. The rules are straightforward and easily defined, with only a few regulations -- such as the offside rule, leaving much room for confusion. Football is a more complex sport in terms of set plays and regulations.
Between videogames and families that do not eat at home anymore, children have a hard time staying fit and healthy. Junk food diets, sedentary lifestyle, and parents who work and are rarely home or involved in their lives have led America's children down a spiraling trend towards childhood obesity. Obesity doesn't simply affect children as they experience their youth, but will carry into lifelong habits and lead to the proliferation of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and other weight related syndromes. The best way to combat childhood obesity is to encourage parents to provide good eating alternatives for the children and to get kids off of the couch and into the park. Soccer with its ease of play and lack of equipment is a perfect sport to allow kids to run, jump and keep their bodies more healthy.
If you dream of being an Olympic athlete, football is not the sport for you. Though football was featured in the 1932 Summer Olympics as a demonstration event, the International Olympic Committee has yet to accept football as an Olympic sport. Soccer has been a regular feature of the Olympics since 1900.
Soccer has a truly global reach; football is largely contained within North America. Soccer is like an international language that crosses cultural barriers, allowing you to share your love for the game with other fans throughout the world. Whether you are in Brazil, Burundi, Belgium or Bangkok, you find people with a common interest in soccer.
Soccer provides more opportunities to compete internationally, at amateur and professional levels. Youth teams often go on tour abroad, and individual players can train in soccer camps across the world. At the highest level, soccer also gives you the chance to represent your national team against all other nations on the planet, something that football does not offer in any comparable way.
Soccer players are less prone to injuries than football players, according to the 2006 High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The one-year study found that football players had the highest injury rate, with 4.36 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures. Male and female soccer players had a rate of 2.43 and 2.36, respectively.