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Ted Lasso is back. Do Americans care about soccer, I mean, football?
The third season of Ted Lasso has begun. The incredibly popular Apple+ show about an American college football coach recruited to bring his coaching talents to an English soccer (I mean football) club.
Vlad Dima, a professor at Syracuse University. Dima has taught classes about soccer and popular culture for the course “Soccer and Africa,” offers some thoughts about what it will take for Americans to bring the same level of enthusiasm to soccer as they do to watching Ted Lasso.
- “Given the series’ immense popularity, it is fair to wonder if Ted Lassohas changed the perception/reality that Americans do not know or care about soccer. It must be said that, ever since the US last hosted the World Cup in 1994, this has cyclically become a modish question. The short answer is…marginally so. Yes, the Premier League has respectable TV ratings in the US; yes, MLS has become bigger and more fun; yes, the US Women’s national team continues to dominate the world and we should all care about that much more; yes, the US men’s national team continues to show good promise for the future, as talented young players—Pulisic, Reyna, Adams, McKennie—will all be in their prime at the next World Cup, co-hosted by the US along with Canada and Mexico; but, no, this is still a sport that barely cracks the top five of main US sports. Ted Lasso cannot make Americans care more about soccer, because only consistent winning can do that in the US,” said Dima.
- “The series became a hit by relying on the excessive American fascination with everything British. It is also funny, well-written, really well-acted, and, most importantly, almost obnoxiously optimistic. Is there a more typically American quality than obnoxious optimism? I believe in ‘Believe,’” says Ted in the first season finale. Optimism, belief, hope, and ridiculousness are all wrapped into this one motto that also represents a distillation of the American spirit—one that does not break when coming face to face with the (stereotypically) stern, stoic, and undemonstrative English philosophy of life,” said Dima.
- “Ted, unabashedly, is who is he—he does not change. If anything, it feels like it is Ted who is meant to change everyone else. His unfailing ethic of care positively affects those around him, but he himself does not change. This means that in essence, he is still an American football coach. It is not soccer, then, that wins the hearts of the viewers, it is American exceptionalism, sugarcoated with a double dose of “believe.” And whenever this exceptionalism translates into the US men’s national team regularly winning on the world stage, it will be then and only then that soccer will gain in popularity,” said Dima.
For reporters looking to connect with Professor Dima, please contact Ellen James Mbuqu, executive director of media relations, email@example.com or 412-496-0551.