Soccer is played all over the planet. This vast outreach makes it difficult to measure the popularity of youth Soccer. Not every area in the world has organized leagues and many children only play the sport for fun at home. The ones that are able to join a league often lose interest or are unable to progress. Measuring FIFA game sales is a much easier task, making it a far more valuable developmental tool.
Clubs can spend thousands of dollars funding camps. Parents can spend hundreds on traveling teams, etc. Both investments can be valuable. According to Soccerly, FIFA 15 sold 11.6 million copies. These sales numbers are proof that youth Soccer development is unable to compete with the video game, but it can coexist as the article points out.
When a child’s Soccer camp, and/or game is over, their involvement is normally done.Developmental programs only have access to children for so long. This limited time period hinders their effectiveness. If they have access to a copy of FIFA the involvement has just begun. Not everyone has access to either resource making it difficult to gauge the influence either method has on the youth. Development is definitely important, however from a marketing perspective engagement is even more valuable.
Video games are definitely influential and the increased popularity of Computer Science studies is proof. If they can inspire children to pursue a career they can inspire children to fall in love with the sport. A love that should and could transfer away from the television.
When children enter their own world the influence of marketing is gone. Youth Soccer development must maintain a tricky balance. They need to let children explore, but they also need to retain engagement. Their global retention success is extremely difficult to measure. Children all over the planet like Soccer, however it’s a tricky statistic to measure how much of the interest is sparked and maintained by youth development. It’s fair to say there are definitely areas where the sport is more popular than others. These vague statements don’t translate into concrete numbers.
On the other hand, sales numbers are written in stone. If the product is sold globally it’s even easier to determine it’s popularity. FIFA games are embraced by the global soccer community, proving that the game is better at engagement than traditional youth development. A pivotal victory for the gaming franchise and the sport.
The internet has created a smaller world. People from every region in the globe have an opportunity to talk to one another via social media and email. The sport that is able to utilize this to their advantage will capture the interest of the current and next generation. A generation that represents the future of the sport. Sports that are unable to perform this task, such as MLB, have experienced significant decline in recent years. In order for the other major sports to avoid this fate they must use multimedia strategically. Soccer already had a global fanbase giving them a major advantage. The recent success of the FIFA video games has left other sports in the dust.