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Elrond Hubbard

The Nation called Joao Havelange a fascist?
The Nation calls everyone a fascist, the word has become an all purpose pejorative and has lost any meaning it once had. It's the Left's "n" word.

John Pepple

Well, I suppose, but I think part of it was just that they had no idea of what he had done for Africa in terms of soccer.


Isn’t hating soccer also the equivalent of racism? If not, why not?

No. Because "hating soccer" is a personal preference, not a political or social program. Some conservatives hate Islam and want to go to war with it. Even if you grant your premise that leftists have something against soccer, which I seriously doubt, they don't want to wage war, or oppress soccer fans, or anything even remotely like that.

Speaking for a large segment of the left, we could not give a rat's ass about professional sports of any kind. Your obsession with it borders on lunacy.

John Pepple

1. A religion is a personal preference, too. It is not primarily a political or social program.

2. If leftists don't have anything against soccer, then why isn't soccer treated the same way that our sports are in even the most progressive of America's newspapers? It is always treated as a second-class sport, at best.

3. No, leftists don't want to oppress soccer fans. But they don't want to help them, either. Many immigrants from Latin America love soccer, but they get no support for this from the typical "Anglo" leftist, though they get tons of support for other parts of their culture. It's inconsistent.

4. "Speaking for a large segment of the left, we could not give a rat's ass about professional sports of any kind." A number of years ago, Katha Pollitt complained about how most leftists she knew were obsessed with baseball.

4. Whether I'm a lunatic or not, all I'm doing is taking leftist principles and applying them to foreign sports. What does multiculturalism entail about foreign sports? Obviously, it entails that leftists ought to respect it. Yet, the typical multiculturalist in this country, especially if they are older, treats foreign sports no differently than the average redneck.

5. I may be obsessed with soccer, but then lots of people in the Third World are obsessed with soccer, too. How any leftist can ignore this and imagine that he or she is somehow in tune with the Third World is beyond me. It's just self-deception.


It seems to me the left pays just about the right amount of attention to soccer, but obviously you disagree.

Far be it from me to tell someone else where to spend their mental energy. If you think you are going to remake the left by obsessing about soccer, knock yourself out.

John Pepple

1. You write, "It seems to me the left pays just about the right amount of attention to soccer." Let's see, baseball is hierarchical (the pitcher gets vastly more action than the outfielders), as is football (quarterbacks get more control over the action than the other players). In addition, football privileges the big, while basketball privileges the tall. Soccer is not hierarchical and it avoids privileging the oversized.

Nevertheless, you think that the left should continue to allow our media to emphasize non-progressive sports over a progressive sport like soccer. That speaks for itself, and I don't need to say anything more about how absurd it is.

2. You write, "If you think you are going to remake the left by obsessing about soccer, knock yourself out." Anyone who reads my blog can see perfectly well that I discuss many topics, not just soccer.

But in writing about soccer, I want something to be noted for the historical record, namely that when confronted with part of the Other's culture, the left was repulsed while people on the right were not.

I'm tired of reading articles and books by leftists about the Other, because the assumption is always that the left is good and the right is bad. The left is good because it treats the Other with respect while the right doesn't. Sorry, but that wasn't what I saw when I got involved in soccer. As a leftist, it wasn't what I wanted to see, but it is in fact what I did see, and I think leftists should be honest enough to admit this.


Your blog software doesn't seem to allow links or italics in comments. You might want to turn that on. I included this link:

to show that the left (represented by The Nation) does write about soccer.

Also, you say "...the left was repulsed while people on the right were not." I have not been studying the history of political takes on soccer for the last 30 years like you, but in the recent World Cup the right was all over mocking it for its foreignness. EG: http://www.thenation.com/blog/glenn-becks-blues-why-far-right-hates-world-cup . I did not see anything remotely comparable from the left.

John Pepple

Thanks for the heads-up about tweaking my blog.

This is the ninth World Cup I’ve watched, and the first eight had the same pattern: lots of soccer bashing, and no leftists defending it. This time there were leftists bashing conservatives who bashed soccer. There were also conservatives commenting on the Internet that they were conservative but that they liked soccer. And as you say, there were no leftists bashing soccer. Why?

Back in the 1970s, there were leftists who bashed soccer. Leftist media like The Nation, In These Times, and NPR never had a good word to say about it. I stopped paying attention to them quite a while ago.

What has changed between then and now? I can only guess. First, some of the old guard has died off, and a new generation of leftists that has grown up with soccer has taken its place. For them soccer is simply a part of life.

Second, some of the leftists who refused to get involved back in the 70s got involved later on because their kids were playing on teams. Gradually, they learned a little about the game (not just the rules, but the names of the European teams, and so on), even if they didn’t become fans.

Third, it’s pretty easy to travel to foreign countries these days, and once there one is immersed in the culture, like it or not. I know a couple of leftist baseball fans who love Italy and gradually they have decided to follow soccer, simply from seeing how ardently it’s followed over there.

So, gradually more and more on the left have come to like the game. Plus, this World Cup was in Africa rather than Europe, and that may have caused more interest.

I’m assuming, however, that there are still plenty of leftists, especially older leftists, who hate the sport, but now keep quiet about it. Plus, the fans at the games seem to skew to the middle or the right. This is shown by the advertisers for televised games, which include the Army or the Marines, but never something like Whole Foods.

Plus, our media still acts almost as though it was the 1950s when it comes to sports, and leftists don’t seem to be in any hurry to change this. If you want to see a newspaper in this country that is wild about soccer, you have to look at the foreign-language press (for example, La Opinion from Los Angeles, whose front page you can look at on newseum.org).

And I am frequently astonished when I discover how ignorant some leftists can be about things that are well-known outside of the U.S. When the movie Bend It Like Beckham came along, the NY Times reviewer admitted he had never heard of the guy. Garrison Keillor in his book Homegrown Democrat talks about how traveling businessmen can talk basketball when they take cabs from the airport because the driver is usually black. In fact, most of those drivers are from Africa, where soccer and not basketball is the main sport. Lots of leftists seem unaware that Nick Hornby’s first book was on soccer, or that Lynne Truss (who wrote a book on punctuation a few years back) had a soccer column in the Times of London back in the 1990s (and a very funny one, too).

And, let’s face it, I don’t know of any leftist in this country who knows much of anything about the sport of cricket (not counting recent immigrants from cricket-playing countries). And yet, cricket is huge in south Asia. Since south Asia has over a billion people in it, one would think that that number alone would encourage leftists to learn a little about the sport. I have certainly learned a little, even though I have no interest in it as a sport. Yet, leftists don’t bother, and that is one reason why I think that the multicultural movement has been a farce. The people who should know more than other Americans are either just as ignorant, or even more ignorant, than most Americans.

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