Chickashanews.com

Opinion

January 3, 2014

Fightin' Words: New Year brings new sport to OKC

(Continued)

CHICKASHA —

With attention drawn to the world's game, it could easily translate into a higher than usual interest in soccer locally. For the first time in decades, Oklahomans will have a professional soccer team to support, if they so choose, while also thinking about their own national team lining up against the world's best. It's the sport's perfect storm, and Oklahoma will be in the middle of it.

Of course, there is still the matter of how the public will actually react. Energy's stadium for the first season is at Bishop McGuinness High School on the north end of Oklahoma City. It's hardly in the thick of things. Then there's the tendency for first-year teams to struggle, making it difficult to keep a solid fan base coming back week after week. Sure attendances and television viewers tend to rise during world cup years, but by how much and the after effects of this are up in the air.

Regardless, 2014 will be a big year for America's fastest growing sport in Oklahoma. Growth and expansion can only be seen as positive at this point. It will also be interesting to see how the state embraces the game after the success of the Thunder. The fanfare around the Energy won't come close to that of the basketball franchise, but there is still a lot of sports passion to be given in a state with only one professional team to support. The newest franchise will also have to contend with the still popular view that soccer is strictly a foreign game, despite more and more evidence to the contrary popping up with each passing year.

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