University should add soccer program

We already have the facilities for it. The interest level is more than there.

American soccer fans have an unfortunate affliction. The sport that commands a passionate following in almost every country across the globe receives less respect here in the United States. But, as Bob Dylan put it, “the times, they are a-changing.”

The ranks of youth soccer have swelled in the last decade, earning the sport widespread recognition and popularity. Our University should take note of this trend and give some thought to making room for a men’s soccer program at Minnesota.

Only three other schools in the Big Ten – Illinois, Iowa and Purdue – don’t have a men’s soccer program. Our school has a women’s team, but the men’s team only has club affiliation, meaning it receives less recognition and faces milder competition.

A chance to compete against our rivals would increase the program’s popularity and offer another activity to University students.

Of course, athletics programs have to abide by Title IX. We don’t suggest the University should establish two additional programs to remedy the conflict. In fact, we don’t advocate spending any additional money to start a soccer program. To make the situation work, we should get rid of one of our men’s sports to make room for soccer.

The Daily reported earlier this year that NCAA gymnastics rests on tenuous footing. Let’s not ignore its ultimate demise. Furthermore, soccer’s following dwarfs that of gymnastics. Soccer offers a better chance of sustainability and a better return on our investment.

Starting a program makes sense for a number of reasons. Most importantly, University athletics would reach out to a broader share of the student population. It’s likely that a large number of international students would follow the program if we had one. Soccer also appeals to many students who don’t enjoy our nation’s traditional sports (i.e. baseball, basketball, football).

Administrators would make a smart move by adding a men’s soccer program. We already have the facilities for it. The interest level is more than there. The University just needs to sponsor it.