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Yet more soccer talk

Soon Natalie Solent will be going: “Boys, enough already with the soccer, there’s a nuclear war about to start over Kashmir, new laws trashing what little remains of our email privacy, a vile British government to be overthrown, a bizarre British monarchy to be argued about, leftist websites to be denounced, Weighty Issues to be Addressed, etc. etc.” And emailers should be warned that even my fascination with soccer, in the USA or anywhere else, has its limits. Nevertheless, I found this from Rick Drasch most diverting:

There are regional considerations with soccer in the US. I grew up in Connecticut (where all towns are named after English towns or Indian words), and let me tell you that soccer is THE sport in southern New England. I have been playing soccer since I was 5. In school, we had no football team; our baseball team was a joke; but our high school soccer team is one of the best in the nation. The dominance of soccer extends throughout Connecticut into Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In high school, I personally did not know of a single football team in the state.

And there was me thinking that US soccer was all South American immigrants or maybe British immigrants, or else hired foreign guns.

As kids, we were genuinely interested (or at least tried to be) in what passed for a professional soccer team for our region, which I think were the Cosmos or some lame name like that. But games were rare and not advertised, and certainly not televised.

This must now be changing fast. You can now presumably get some kind of soccer from somewhere on the internet at any hour of the day or night if you know where to look. If not now then pretty soon.

I’m not sure of the reason why soccer dominates in that region; it’s not a monetary one. One theory I have is that it is a population issue. When you have 30 kids per class (of both genders), try and field a football team. If you actually manage to do it, you’ll still get killed. Nobody wants to watch your pipsqueak quarterback get terminated with extreme prejudice by a linebacker from a school in Jersey with 3000 students.

Or it could just be that it tain’t called “New” England for nothin’, gov.

I don’t think that Rick’s heart is really in that last bit, do you? – but the point about the physical danger of American football is surely a good one. With soccer, when you are severely outclassed, all that happens is that you get beaten 8-0, the way that Saudi Arabia was beaten 8-0 by Germany the other day. In general, I’ve heard it said, soccer is less likely to inflict severe long-term injury than American football, despite and in fact because of all that pain-preventing equipment that the footballers wear which enables them to carry right on jarring themselves to what eventually turns into an early and painful death. Hence the enthusiasm of those soccer mums.

To take my imagined Natalie Solent objection seriously, why blog on about sports like this? For the same reason that all newspapers have sports pages, I guess. It’s part of life, and a big one.

There are lots of reasons why we who love sports love sports. Here’s one that I haven’t seen mentioned lately, which is that with sport you do at least know what the hell happened. The daily bread of Samizdata is, let’s be honest, politics, or more loosely, “public issues”. But the trouble with “public issues” is that so often they aren’t. Simply finding out what the hell happened can take you all the time you have to spare.

Sport isn’t like that. The USA really did beat Portugal 3-2. It wasn’t 4-2, nor was it 2 all. It was 3-2 to the USA. It was 3-1 at half time, and at the end it was 3-2. I know it, and if you care, you know it. Way to go, USA!!

Well, imagine if we didn’t know, but only had lying press releases and evasive performances from the FIFA Press Secretary to go on, like at a summit conference.

“Mr Secretary can you tell us the score?”

“Gentlemen, I’m not able to reveal the exact score at this moment in time. This will, we now anticipate, be revealed rather more fully next Thursday, after the FIFA Results Subcommittee Meeting. What I can say is that this was a clean, honest and vigorous game, much enjoyed by all concerned.”

“Yes, but who won?”
“Is it true that two of the Portugal goals were own-goals?”
“Was anybody sent off?”
“Which of the USA goalkeepers played in the game?”
“Did Figo play?”
“How well did he play?”
“Did he score any goals?”

“One at a time please. Yes madam.”

“Can you tell us what colour shirts the two teams were wearing?”

“Why yes I can ma’am, the USA’s players were wearing….”


World Cup Finals would be so vitally important that, as with Bilderberg meetings, it would be permanently denied that they ever happened. As for them ever telling us what the score was and who won, forget it.

But mercifully, sport is not like that. It has its intricacies and secret dramas and concealed scandals, but the basic story is out there for us all to see. Sport is egalitarian not only in who gets to play it and how likely they are to get hurt, but also in who gets to talk about it in a reasonably well informed manner. Answer: everybody who wants to! No wonder so many people prefer sports talk to politics talk.

And if we libertarians want to get our voices heard and our memes circulated in human as opposed merely to libertarian or more generally political company, then those of us who are inclined to join in with this sports talk should do so.

Bring on the Argies.

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