Originally posted by @mchill
Back in the 70's and 80's when I was a USCF member American players were still living in the space cadet glow of the post Fischer era. Membership stood at just over 100,000 and enthusiasm was high. Today, membership struggles to reach 85,000 most new members are school kids who soon drop out after a year or two, and the USCF has to borrow money to stay finan ...[text shortened]... tunities to learn. Sorry USCF, the 70's are over, disco is dead, and I'm staying right here!
Obviously, an era which had such a high-profile American who was regarded as a hero for defeating a Russian during the height of the cold war, would make the sport much more popular in the U.S. than now, a time when most Americans can't name one current professional player.
Also, I'm assuming there are membership fees for USCF, correct? If so, I'm sure most U.S. chess players simply don't find the value of paying money to an organization they will then have to make time to travel to, when they can play any time the want for free online.