By CAITLIN MURRAY
The future of Major League Soccer is looking bright – at least according to a new poll out by ESPN.
MLS has caught up with Major League Baseball in popularity among Americans aged 12 to 17 as both leagues have 18 percent of that demographic calling themselves avid fans. While MLB was founded in 1869, MLS has been around since 1996.
“It is phenomenal that in just one generation it has gone from zero adherents to tying MLB,” Rich Luker, the study’s creator, told ESPN FC, “especially when you recognize this is the first generation to only know the United States with a professional soccer league. MLS is in their generational DNA.”
The poll points to David Beckham’s massive celebrity status and the popularity of EA Sports’ FIFA video game franchise as contributing factors in MLS’ growth – but the report says it’s ultimately unclear what is driving the change.
The research also suggests respect is growing for MLS from American soccer fans born in other parts of the world, such as Europe and South America.
The same annual poll had two years ago determined soccer was America’s second-most popular sport among the 12-24-year-old group ahead of baseball, college football and basketball.
What do you think of this poll? Is this a positive sign for MLS? Is MLS on its way to overtaking one of the other major sports leagues in the U.S.? What is helping drive young Americans toward the MLS?
Share your thoughts below.