June 25, 2006

The Secret of Soccer

From my article "One World Cup: Soccer Gives American Elites the Chance to Celebrate Nationalism in Other Countries But Not Ours" in the 7/17/06 issue of The American Conservative (not online):

While soccer is usually extolled or derided as a Eurosport -- Tom Piatak calls it "the metric system in short pants" -- it is actually another triumph of Anglo-Saxon culture. Sports have been played all over the world for all of history, but 19th Century Britain and its offshoots possessed a genius for self-organization. The Victorian emphasis on fair play created enough trust for local sportsmen to be able to cooperate nationally. Most of today's major spectator sports, such as baseball, basketball, track & field, ice hockey, boxing, cricket, tennis, and golf, were formalized by English-speakers in the 1800s.

Soccer, rugby, and American football evolved out of medieval English mass mêlées in which the livelier lads of rival villages would celebrate Shrove Tuesday by trying to propel an inflated pig's bladder past the other mob. In England, soccer became the gentleman's game played by thugs and rugby the thug's game played by gentlemen...

Tellingly, one place where soccer is not terribly popular is in Britain's cultural offspring. Being equally blessed with cooperative creativity, Canadians instead devised ice hockey and Australians developed Aussie rules football.

Similarly, Americans didn't need to import soccer or rugby because we could cultivate our own variant. American football was adopted by the Republic's commercial classes and refined into the most perfect sport for television the world has known. While soccer remains hamstrung by the need to keep the game affordable in the Third World, Americans could adopt costly innovations such as separate offensive and defensive units that make the football far more exciting than soccer, where tired players often visibly dog it on the field.

In summary, Americans play soccer (at least until we grow coordinated enough to try other sports), but we don't watch it on TV. Quite possibly, we've found the world's best way to deal with soccer.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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