Monday, June 16, 2014

Concussions Help USA Win First World Cup Trophy

July 24, 2026 – NEW YORK

Over one million people packed the Canyon of Heroes on Friday for a ticker tape parade in honor of the United States Men’s National Soccer team and their hard fought 2026 FIFA World Cup Championship. 

After failing to reach the knock-out stage of the world’s most popular tournament in 2014 and back-to-back heartbreaking losses in the quarterfinals to Germany in 2018 and Argentina in 2022, Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad notched a 3-2 victory over a heavily favored Brazil squad to secure the first World Cup Championship for the United States, and a ticker tape parade down Broadway.   

When asked what changed in the 12 years since the US was unceremoniously ousted from the 2014 tournament after three straight losses, Klinsmann took a few seconds to think and responded with one simple word - “concussions.” 

Klinsmann followed up, “obviously our guys worked incredibly hard, played as a cohesive unit, peaked at the right time, and performed beautifully when it mattered most.  But without the concern about concussions in the 2010’s, I’m confident you would instead be watching many of our best players in pads and a helmet on Sunday’s in the NFL instead of on my squad in the FIFA World Cup.”

Starting in the early 2010’s parents started steering their kids away from sports with a high risk of head injury, American football in particular.  Parents have always been concerned with injuries in football, but the risk of concussions and their long term impact, was just too high to bear.  By the end of the 2010’s a large majority of parents and even some local governments banned full contact football until high school. 

Soccer was the primary beneficiary of this movement away from football.  As Klinsmann explains, “12 years ago, many, if not most, of the elite American soccer talents would have never even known they were elite soccer talents.  At a young age, these boys would have been gobbled up by the sexier and better funded fall sport of football and never again touched a soccer ball.”

The 2010’s was the height of the NFL’s popularity, but with that popularity came an increased scrutiny of head injuries, particularly the cumulative effect of multiple head injuries long after a players career was over.  Multiple ex-NFL players had committed suicide due to the lingering effects of years of football related head injuries, and many more were diagnosed with various brain afflictions that drastically reduced their quality of life.  Studies even came out showing the negative developmental effects of hits to the head as early as pee-wee football.    

As a result of the increased focus on concussions in football, parents started to ban their children from football.  The decline in football participation, coupled with the surge in popularity of a vastly improved and better funded professional soccer league in the US (Major League Soccer), created the perfect environment for US Soccer to thrive.    

And thrive it has, culminating in this year’s World Cup triumph.  The past 12 to 15 years has proven that the concern over concussions has been football’s loss and soccer’s gain, and with it, America’s standing as an international soccer powerhouse. 

US Men’s National Team Captain, and the winner of the 2026 Golden Boot, Joe Smith echoed his managers remarks, “despite my temper tantrums, my mom would not allow me to play football as a kid.  As a 10 year old, I was distraught, but looking back, I’m forever indebted to my mother for not letting me play football as a kid.  The other fall sport of interest was soccer, so I poured my time and effort into soccer and became the world-class player I am today.  To be the captain of the first US Men’s National Team to win the World Cup is an incredible feeling and I owe it all to my mother, and in a weird way, to the concussion controversies.  A Super Bowl victory could never mean this much to me, my family or my country.” 


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