The World Cup is a business. FIFA is a business. Sepp Blatter runs a business. Soccer is something else.

Where American soccer has grown the most over the past decade is in the area where sport exists outside the business of sport. Or at least outside the traditional benchmarks of the business. To understand a sport’s place in a culture you have to look beyond TV and even outside stadiums — you have to look at playgrounds and mall concourses and the jokes people you haven’t talked to in 12 years are making on Facebook. And I’m sorry, but by those measures, the condition of soccer in America is roughly a billion times healthier than it was 18 years ago. It’s countless little things. You see grown-ups playing soccer in the park. You see college bros in Messi jerseys killing time at the airport. Manchester United shows up on the front page of — not once, but regularly. Strangers you meet know about the Champions League. I hope this doesn’t sound too anecdotal/Thomas Friedman’s–cab–driver–ish, but the whole point is that you can’t really measure it. Soccer is just much more of a steady everyday presence than it was a few years ago. It just is.

Best take we’ve read so far on Sepp Blatter and his comments about soccer in America, by Brian Phillips over at Grantland. Read it.

(via pitchinvasion)