Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Soccer is Stupid!": Sports, Nationalism, and Bad Food

While with a group of her high-school friends, my daughter mentioned that she liked watching soccer. She was shocked by her friends' vituperative reactions: "Soccer is stupid!" "Soccer is for babies!" "They just fall down all the time!" etc.

One interpretation of this response is that since sport is one of the most valuable currencies in America, Americans see their identity threatened by "foreign" sports and must therefore insult them. (Imagine, for example, the media storm that would surround a U.S. presidential candidate who expressed a keen interest in soccer or in Formula 1.)

The French, in contrast, make fun of the British by insulting their food. Since culture and cuisine are valued in France, this type of jingoistic slam makes sense. In the States, insult my green Jell-O or meat loaf, I won't care much. But don't you dare tell me football is too violent or tedious!

In America, where we value sports above all else, soccer is the cultural equivalent of boiled beef and potato pies.


Anonymous said...

North Americans don't like what they suck at, even trying hard. Soccer, the real football, is a much difficult game than basketball, baseball or American Football, and is not made for pussies.

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