CBC Digital Archives

Behold the 'soccer mom'

It's been called "the beautiful game." Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, draws an unwavering devotion from its fans. Yet soccer as a spectator sport has never quite caught on in Canada, despite growing youth participation rates and a series of professional leagues. Still, we've had star players and tasted World Cup play, and many immigrant communities have imported their passion to Canada. CBC Archives looks at soccer in the Great White North.

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Professional soccer may not hold a prominent place in North American culture, but "soccer moms" certainly do. They're stereotypically known for ferrying their kids to soccer practice in mini-vans across suburbia. They're also the demographic politicians want to win over, explains political analyst Will McMartin. With their focus on health care and education, so-called soccer moms are said to have played a big part in electing American president Bill Clinton. And according to this 2005 TV clip, they're expected to play a role in the upcoming B.C. election too. 
• The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a soccer mom as a "middle-class suburban housewife committed to driving her children to their soccer games and practices, viewed esp. as a member of a particular class of voter or consumer."

• A 1996 article by Jacob Weisberg in the online magazine Slate was one of the first to delve into the soccer mom phenomenon, as it applied to the upcoming U.S. federal election. He began the article by discussing how children's soccer had become much more mainstream in the U.S. than when he was a kid. "Indeed, the sport is now so populist that in the opinion of all the experts, it is the 'soccer moms' who will determine the outcome of next month's election."

• In the article, Weisberg traced the historical evolution of the term. He found an early reference to soccer moms in a 1982 article, but said it didn't really appear much again until a 1991 tragedy when "a soccer mom in California got so stressed out that she shot her two daughters." But he said the first time he could find the term being applied to politics was 1995, "when a Democratic candidate for the Denver City Council... described herself as a soccer mom - and won."

• Since the 1996 U.S. election, the soccer mom vote has often been highly coveted in North America. Canada's 2006 federal election was no exception. When Conservatives promised a tax credit for enrolling children in organized sports, the Red Deer Advocate called it "a direct appeal to soccer moms." And when the Liberals were about to make a new child-care plan announcement, the Guelph Mercury called it "a move that will surely attract the attention of every parent in this country, including 'soccer moms,' whose vote every party wants."
Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: Feb. 17, 2005
Guest(s): Linda Carville, Will McMartin, Liane Venasse, Kim Williams
Reporter: Belle Puri
Duration: 1:42

Last updated: May 14, 2012

Page consulted on October 27, 2014

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