Hemon on Americans and soccer

Monday, June 28, 2010

Northwestern SCS faculty member Aleksandar Hemon, writing at the New Republic's excellent Goal Post World Cup blog, considers the inevitable question following the United States' elimination from the finals on Saturday. Will America ever accept soccer?

The thing that bothers me most about the Americans-not-accepting-soccer story is the underlying notion that if the majority of Americans have no interest in soccer, then Americans have no interest in soccer. By the same logic, Americans have no interest in reading novels, as survey upon survey shows that the majority of Americans prefer television to reading. I don't know the numbers, but I would venture to guess that the number of Americans reading literary fiction is in the neighborhood of the number of Americans interested in soccer. That would make the novel as fundamentally un-American as soccer. Someone should break the news to Philip Roth.

In a related post, Hemon asks what it would take for soccer to be considered on par with the NFL, Major League Baseball, and Nascar (his answer: he doesn't care). If that means the writing about soccer would also have to devolve into the kind of stats-heavy wankery that passes for so much American sportswriting instead of posts like this, then I don't want it to be "accepted" either.