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The Fervent, the Ambivalent, and the Great Gap Between: American Print-Media Coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup

David R. Novak and Andrew C. Billings

No longer is there a question of whether the football World Cup is an immense media spectacle; instead, the question now is how immense the World Cup is in the overall human experience. Despite all the global excitement related to the World Cup, the bulk of the general U.S. public is seemingly exempt from the charms of the World Cup. This article examines American media coverage of the 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup. A qualitative content analysis identified 6 major themes in U.S. popular-press coverage of the event in South Africa, highlighting the communicative undercurrents of media discussions in order to comprehend the disconnect between American attitudes toward the World Cup and those held by the rest of the world. Themes of media discourse range from the increase in participation of Americans in soccer to resistance to mainstreaming soccer in popular culture to how soccer affects cultural literacy. Overall, the results indicate some enthusiasm for World Cup soccer while outlining stronger resistance for the sport in general. Potential future research projects related to this line of inquiry are also suggested.