The 20th Century of the United States was largely dominated by an industrial economy. The US rode the wave of the industrial revolution into prominence on the world stage. Factories flourished thanks to interchangeable parts and largely interchangeable people. Most workers in the 20th Century were able to earn a substantial living by doing simple repetitive tasks under the orders of their bosses.
In this system, it is no wonder that the sport of the century was Football. In so many ways, football was representative of the American way. It was progressive. Moving forward was success and moving backward was failure. It mirrored our historical land acquisition with its own “land acquisition”. The decisions were made by a few bosses and executed by largely interchangeable people. The sport was the perfect corollary for the industrial age and both served the country well in their time.
Now that the industrial age has passed and we have moved into what many are calling the “Connection Economy”. The people who create value in the market place are not interchangeable cogs in a vast machinery. Cogs can be replaced, automated or outsourced to other countries. True value in the modern economy is created by an individual whose contributions are irreplaceable and unique.
This change begs for a different representation in sport. The football model of “run the play” holds little value when the rules of the game change so quickly. Soccer’s flexibility and subjectivity require that players deal with complex problems and must make individual decisions for the betterment of the collective. Since each player is a decision maker, principles rather than directives are the dictating forces. No one person is in control. Therefore players must learn to control themselves and direct themselves in an uncertain environment.
The beautiful game will become “America’s Game”. It is just a matter of time.