July 13, 2006

A Dutch reader on soccer

Here is something to that will make you laugh: Andrei S. Markovits, an American professor who wrote Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism, recently cried in all German newspapers that he felt so uncomfortable among those European soccer fans. He was shocked, shocked, to learn that European soccer fans are not nice PC soccer moms, but very naughty men who are the embodiment of all bad stuff like racism, sexism (the horror!), xenophobia and beer drinking (how plebeian!).

I think you are deluding yourself when you see the current anti-soccer reaction as a sign of red blooded American maleness. Liberals have plenty of reasons to hate soccer. Didn’t The Weekly Standard publish an article about the awfulness of the game. I rest my case. I think anti-soccerism is the only outlet for expressing American chauvinism that is still allowed by your ruling class, just as soccer-enthusiasm is the only form of patriotism that is allowed in the European Union. My guess is that the boys of The Weekly Standard got very upset when they saw those very German Germans sing their national anthem. They probably thought that all modern Germans were like Siegfried and Roy.

Which brings me to the main reason why many liberals must hate soccer: in spite of all the cheers for The Black Stars of Ghana, all semi-finalists turned out to be the better organized European teams. It must be very painful to them that the Global Game is still dominated by a bunch of white boys. It’s the Winter Olympics all over again! Of the four semi-finalists only France resembles an American Basketball team, but that’s because the French had until recently the same attitude towards soccer as Americans. It was/is seen as an immigrant sport, a ‘foreign’ British sport, unlike cycling (Tour de France). In the 80s, when the French soccer team was mostly white, many players had Italian and Spanish surnames.

The most ethnically homogeneous white team (Italy) is champion of the world. Germany and Portugal had (mostly) white teams. Portugal still succeeds -like England and the Netherlands- to produce many crack white players, in spite of a sizeable black population. Apparently Portuguese, Dutch and English whites are not athletic lotus eaters like you Caucasian Americans, who have yielded all of your sports to ethnic minorities (and of course a few walrus shaped white freaks without necks).

P.S. I promise to be really bored when those American Football matches are on Dutch television in January.

The European club system for organizing sports, where a pro team is often just the summit of a vast local club of amateur and youth teams who compete in many different leagues, means that pro soccer teams are often much more the organic expression of a community than are American college and pro teams.

American colleges used to recruit mostly from their home state, and that's still somewhat true for schools in huge states like Texas and Florida, but the success of UT-El Paso in winning the NCAA basketball tournament in 1965 with an all-black core of 7 players recruited from northern cities (celebrated in the recent movie "Glory Road") showed that coaches had to go where the talent was. When John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, was criticized for going all the way to New York City to recruit 7'-2" Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) instead of finding some big California stiff and teaching him how to be a great basketball player, Wooden said, "You can't coach quickness."

The NBA used to have local preferences in the draft, so Philadelphia got Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain in 1959 (although Wilt chose to live in New York City, where the girls were hotter, and just drove down to Philly for games), but that disappeared about 40 years ago, so now the draft serves to randomize the geographical distribution of players.

So, American teams are now wholly artificial, with few players who were born in the cities they represent. Soccer teams have gotten much more globalized, but an authentic Liverpool yobbo like Wayne Rooney will still at least start his professional career with a local Merseyside club like Everton before moving on to big Manchester United.

That may explain why American sports have more of a genteel facade than does proletarian soccer. An American football or basketball college player might be a complete thug, but he is still supposed to publicly pretend he sort of almost cares about the opportunity to get an education that his scholarship supposedly affords him. And when he becomes a pro, he tends to see himself much as the corporate warriors who hold the season tickets see themselves -- as free agents who might be in Dallas this year and Chicago next.

So, the club system means that European colleges aren't corrupted by sports, but it also explains why soccer players outside the U.S. tend to be such yobs, as we saw with Zinedine Zidane going all Bob Hoskins on that Italian player, who claims he couldn't have called Zidane a "terrorist" on the quite plausible ground that "I'm ignorant. I don't even know what the word means."

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

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