Our European guru educates and enlightens
Who invented football? Though China has a respectable claim, England usually gets the credit. But G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Watergate conspirators who has inevitably become a talk show host in America, sees it differently.
“Soccer comes from Latin America," he opines. "The game, I think, originated with the south Americans and instead of a ball they used to use the head – the decapitated head – of an enemy warrior”. Course they did, Gordon. (The "G." stands for George, by the way - not, as you might expect from the quality of his sporting insight, Gormless.)
Why am I quoting this nonsense from a man most famous for a dinner-party trick in which he held his hand above a lighted candle until his flesh started to singe? Because it goes to the heart of why the self-proclaimed land of the free has never fully embraced the sport of the free-kick.
Many American right-wingers believe a theory encapsulated by Mark Thiessen, a former speechwriter for baseball aficionado George W Bush: “Many years ago my former White House colleague Bill McGurn pointed out to me the real reason why soccer hasn’t caught on in the good old USA. It’s simple really. Soccer is a socialist sport.” (McGurn, by the way, was Bush’s chief speechwriter.)
So that’s cleared that up. Because ‘soccer’ wasn’t invented on their side of the pond, many American patriots can’t contemplate the sport without “beginning to smell a big fat Commie rat”, as George C Scott’s twitching reactionary General Buck Turgidson put it in the chilling satire Dr Strangelove.
Jack Kemp, a former Republican presidential wannabe, once took to the Congressional floor to oppose America hosting the 1994 World Cup, on the grounds that gridiron was “democratic capitalism” while soccer was “European socialism”. Kemp was joking. Liddy, Thiessen and many others aren’t.
The fact that Barack Obama, a West Ham United fan, likes soccer seems sinister proof to America’s far right that the game is just a Communist plot to subvert the good old US of A.
And things can only get worse. Soccer’s image in America will surely sink lower than a lizard’s armpit after an anthropologist called Scott Atran told the Senate that a Muslim’s enthusiasm for the beautiful game is a “reliable indicator of whether or not someone joins the jihad” and that most of the people behind the bombings in Madrid 2003 played soccer together.
Atran’s scaremongering tosh – sorry, that should read "authoritative insight into the ever-ongoing War On Terror" – has even inspired stories in Newsweek. One, under the not-at-all-inflammatory headline "The link between football and jihad", swiftly followed another (by the same author) which Newsweek.com can't decide whether to call "Why Islamists Love the World Cup" or the more straightforwardly confrontational "Why Jihadists Love the World Cup".
(Editor's note: FFT.com cannot be held responsible for the content of other websites. Don't blame us if it's a turgid, fatuous, ill-conceived waste of ones and zeros.)
It can’t be long before Osama Bin Laden’s apocryphal status as an Arsenal season ticket holder is used in evidence against ‘soccer’. And sure enough, it crops up in both of David A Graham's pieces for Newsweek, which has halved its subscriber base in the last two years and can barely expect to pick up new readers from the footballing fraternity.
The round-ball game has been used as a – oh go on then – political football for almost as long as it has been a sport. But so far, to the chagrin of many dictators, columnists and rabble-rousers, attempts to link the game with a particular political philosophy, government or terrorist organisation have all come to naught.
Football is too unpredictable, amorphous and organic to be easily tailored to a cause. If Atran had been alive when actor John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, would he have urged the government to arrest every thespian as a Confederate insurrectionist?
FourFourTwo.com: More to read...The Real American FootballFFT.com: Blogs * News
* Interviews * Home Join
us: Twitter * Facebook * Forums
The G.Gordon Liddy explanation is probably referring to the Mayans having invented "Soccer." Over here in the states, Mexico has a strong foot-hold in our preconcieved notions of the sport. That a slight xenophobia towards Mexico due to a byproduct of political-social exchanges, exists, is only natural. Bare in mind, the USA absorbs 20% of Mexico's disfranchised people, Mexico fails to provide for their own poor and are happy that they just "go away" to the US. I don't agree with the statement that the sport is a socialist tool, the problem to me is that football (lets stop calling it soccer) is the one sport the US has failed to put its own spin on it... The NFL derives from Rugby, but is now so alien to the original source inspiration that no rugby player would want to play it, the same is true of baseball which derives from cricket. Even NASCAR to a certain extent is some "redneck" re-interpretation of Formula One racing which we do have in this country (Indy 500) but it's NASCAR that has become the rage over here. Even Tennis, we seem to value power (Sampras) & Egotistical Me Generation athletes (McEnroe, Agazzi, William Sisters) over any type of clean-cut by the book professional tennis player.
America loves rebels, football however is a sport that is honest, there's not a lot of room for braggarts like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James... America would have loved Diego Maradona (circa '86) had the sport been already entrenched in this country, but back then America was still loving their baseball ('86 Mets) and basketball which was beginning its decade long dominance with the Celtics, Lakers and the Jordan-led Bulls. Maradona's Argentina came at the wrong time... had Maradona surfaced around the time of the NASL (NY Cosmos and the such) who knows? Maybe Football would have captured more "hearts and minds."
To me though, all this European barnstorming, with all these European clubs coming over here to play the still inferior MLS league teams is not really working. The time to maybe make a dent in American sports is now, the NBA has been horrible for the past 8 years... the product has been diluted to the point that an actual NBA game is unwatchable since it skirts all the rules set in place to watch a contest, Boxing has not recovered from the losses of De La Hoya, Tyson, Gatti... Hockey is still the ugly stepchild nobody wants. The only real competitors in this country are Baseball and the NFL, but the NFL is a beast unto itself, no sport in this country can compete with it, everything about it is near perfect, from the 16 game season to the playoff format to the actual Superbowl... Football(Soccer) could provide a nice alternative to baseball, but you would need a really aggressive push in terms of marketing. Americans will start watching more when we can sign the Rooneys & Henrys in thier prime and not when they're in their mid-thirties crossing over the pond for one last quick paycheck. Soccer hasn't made it yet, it might one day, maybe in another 15 years.
I am an American right winger. To me this means that I favor small government, low taxes and strong national defense. It doesn't mean, as left leaning journalists intimate, racism, xenophobia or homophobia. As a lover of the United States and football(soccer) I must honestly recognize the flaws in American Culture. One flaw is the need to be the best, to win, to dominate. Most Americans could never understand Accrington Stanley or Exeter City supporters. Victory trumps loyalty. Therefore, since America will never be a nation truly capable of world football dominance, the default position becomes dismissal of football altogether. We can't win a World Cup so we'll invent a sport ("American Football") in which chubby genetic mutants belly-buck and declare the best team "World Champions". The fact that the rest of the world doesn't participate is irrelevant. Soccer is ridiculed as boring or feminine. This is beginning to change. The Champions League Final was on network TV in the states this year and the World Cup final drew strong ratings. Legions of soccer-mad youths are now armed with the internet, FSC and Gol TV. Life long affiliations are being formed. Within a generation the old, provincial, dismissive American anti-soccer cave-dwellers will be (to reference famous Right-Winger Ronald Reagan) relegated to the dust bin of history.
To yoroguas list of distractions I would add college football. I am a 44 year old American who has loved soccer since childhood. I do hear "soccer is boring" a lot which is ironic as baseball is like watching paint peel. Unfortunately a recurring comment heard over and over from open minded friends trying to like soccer is "what is up with the diving and play acting?" this aspect has to go, as it is simply not sporting. Trying to win free kicks penalties and cards against the other side through chicanery really turns people off. I think the sport will gain popularity here. There will always be an uniformed reaction to this "foreign" sport as the article says but a pure product will enjoy limited status beneath "bigger USA " sports. Love 442.
You just copied this from the New Yorker
I too am one those "right wingers," that is, Constitutionalists. Football is my only sport.
As for this article, yikes. For a second I was thinking that 442 might be able to (partially) fill the void in an American media deficient and illiterate when it comes to the beautiful game. In turn, this guy Paul Simpson is the standard, two-bit American hack who chose a variant of journalism as his/her "profession."
Bush was not even close to a "right winger" as his spending habits were much more in line with leftists; supporters of big government. Also, leftists hate football and sports in general. After all, who else would condemn the "obscene profits" that Beckham (5 million) and Donovan (2 million) make each year. :)
Americans---like most primates have an aversion to change that transcends political philosophy. Even something as non-threatening as support for a "different" sport only comes about slowly. And you conservatives should be more reluctant to ID yourselves as "right wingers." The right wing is a fringe philosophy that includes Palin/Liddy/Limbaugh/Scarboro/O'Reilly, etc, and does not represent the more moderate conservative ideals of low taxes, limited government, and strong defense. The right wing HATES SOCCER. The fact that you like it is another sign that you're not right wing. Unfortunately limited government is usually code for: "I want the government to do less of something specific that benefits someone in particular." But no one considers limited government regarding the government benefits they enjoy EVERY DAY like clean water, well built and maintained roads, fire and rescue, police, telephone/internet/electrical grid reliability, child welfare, schools, restaurant inspections, etc... ALL GOVERNMENT. Limiting government led directly to the BP oil spill. Too many true "right wingers" just mean "I hate poor people" when they want government limited.
This article is not too far off base, although it is fact that football is growing here. During the World Cup, one of the right leaning shows complained that too many immigrants played for the national teams, even though only two (Feilhaber, Holden) were born outside the U.S,
I have to say I enjoyed this article, and the comments left.
It seems, from my position anyway, that America favours the athletic rather than the skill based sports. Perhaps a reason why the national team is very fit but lacks that bit of quality to make them a recognised big team. Also having played an American football team (on tour in a 1 half rugby the other american football) and a soccer team this is the case. The players are fit as anything but when it comes to the more technical aspects they are let down.
Yorugua - Your opinions about Basketball being horrible for 8 years?! Many would disagree. Hockey the ugly step child? -- You haven't been watching Ovechkin or Crosby...or you simply can't skate and therefore outcast the game with the typical outsiders point of view as a goon sport. Hockey is an amazing game.
The attraction with American Football is strongly linked to gambling -- it's perfectly designed for marketing with continuous breaks in play --- the build up each week for games with an abundance of time for the media to search for stories and pre-game drama.
Football(Soccer) has about the same historical significance to Americans as Tea and strumpets -- It's not something you strive for as a child based on the idea that your father's-father never kicked the ball growing up.. Never passing on their childhood memories to the following generation. The ONLY way 'soccer' will grow is if major moneybag enthusiasts bring money to Major League Soccer. That said, MLS would then have to raise the salary cap --- bring over big name players and then build a strong youth program with American born players. It all starts from a generation --- a generation that grows up aspiring to be the next...Landon Donovan rather than Payton Manning.
It's all based on GRASSROOTS -- (no pun intended )
My response became too long to be a comment so, like a caterpillar into a moth, it has metamorphosed into <a href="www.thetruefootball.com/.../soccer-in-america-series-2010-response.html">this article</a>.
I was disappointed in a number of the devices used to marginalize American sporting culture. Suffice to say: Mr. Simpson, we usually respect your work, which is why we landed on this article in the first place. However, we would appreciate your support rather than your antiquated disparagement. If this is not a reasonable request, then maybe it's best then that the magazine remain entitled 4-4-2, as opposed to the more contemporary 4-2-3-1.
Oops, perhaps my link in the above comment didn't work out because I don't fully understand this interknots thing. Here it is in full form.
LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS
Bayern sell out Allianz for cup final screening
Ferguson seeking anything but quiet life
Riquelme stunner sends Corinthians crashing
Ivanovic wins Europa League for Chelsea
FIFA: Sao Paulo stadium will be ready on time
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010