Exercise on Choosing Articles II

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Soccer — or football (or foosball or futbol), as it is called by rest of world outside United States — is surely most popular sport in the world. Every four years, the world championship of soccer, World Cup, is watched by literally billions all over the world, beating out the United States professional football's Superbowl by far. It is estimated that 1.5 billion people watched the World Cup final between Italy and Brazil in 1994. And it is also genuine world championship, involving teams from many countries (as many as 172) and played in venues all over globe, unlike much more parochial and misnamed World Series in American baseball (that doesn't even involve Japan or Cuba, two baseball hotbeds). But although soccer has become important sport in American sports scene, it will never make inroads into hearts and markets of American sports the way that football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and even tennis and golf have done. There are many reasons for this.

Recently New England Revolution beat Tampa Bay Mutiny in game played during horrid rainstorm. Nearly 5000 fans showed up, which shows that soccer is, indeed, popular in the United States. However, the story of game was buried near back of newspaper's sports section, and there was certainly no television coverage. In fact, biggest reason for soccer's failure as mass appeal sport in the United States is that it doesn't conform easily to demands of television.

Basketball succeeds enormously in America because it regularly schedules what it calls "television time-outs" as well as the time-outs that teams themselves call to re-group, not to mention half-times and, on the professional level, quarter breaks. Those time-outs in the action are ideally made for television commercials. And television coverage is lifeblood of American sports. College basketball lives for game scheduled on CBS or ESPN (highly recruited high school players are more likely to go to team that regularly gets national television exposure), and we could even say that television coverage has dictated pace and feel of American football. Anyone who has attended live football game knows how commercial time-outs slow the game and sometimes, at its most exciting moments, disrupt flow of events. No one raises objection, however, because without television, football knows that it simply wouldn't remain in homes and hearts of Americans. Also, without those advertising dollars, the teams couldn't afford sky-high salaries of their high-priced superstars.