My upcoming World Cup article in The American Conservative: An excerpt:
Just as Brazil, soccer's dominant nation, has been the "Country of the Future" for, roughly, ever, the quadrennial arrival of another month-long World Cup reminds us that, for Americans, soccer is the Sport of the Future and it always will be.
Every four years Americans get lectured that the World Cup is the biggest single-sport competition on Earth and that we'll no doubt be hopping on this global bandwagon Real Soon Now...
Lately, though, a soccer-crazed fraction of our postnationalist verbal elite has switched tactics and now imply that Americans will never get excited about soccer as a spectator sport because we just don't deserve "the beautiful game." ...
This World Cup in Germany offers the soccerati the opportunity to flaunt their cosmopolitanism as they elucidate the exhilarating subtleties you likely missed in that Croatia-Japan nil-nil draw because you prefer native pastimes such as baseball, basketball, or, God forbid, NASCAR. The "celebrate diversity" folk want America to become athletically homogenous with the rest of the world. To them, the tepid American response to the World Cup is evidence of our bigotry, our xenophobic failure to get with the global program. As Kevin Michael Grace says, their slogan would be "One people, one world, one sport," if they weren't so freaked out by all the host country fans waving German flags. Ironically, while the World Cup is an occasion for globalist preening in the U.S., in the rest of the world it's a prime locus for jingoism...
Soccer is by no means a bad sport to play. It's fun, good exercise, cheap, and, unlike basketball or football, it doesn't help to be 7-feet tall or 300 pounds. In fact, soccer shares many virtues with hiking, but there are no hiking hooligans and nobody calls you a chauvinistic boor if you don't watch Sweden v. Paraguay on TV in the World Hiking Cup.
Thanks to Kevin Michael Grace for the phrase "One People, One World, One Sport."
And thanks to all readers who wrote into to bring me up to speed on soccer.
Here's soccerati Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic, on "What kind of governments produce winning soccer teams?"
Here's the New York Observer on why soccer is popular among Foer and friends.