November 12, 2009

Keywords: Why book titles have gotten so short and subtitles so long

Razib points me to this book that's new to America:
Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport

I haven't read the book, and I certainly don't know anything about soccer, but I doubt that the U.S. will become a consistent contender in the World Cup (men's division) over the next several quadrennial competitions. Sure, a lot of American youths get driven by their soccer moms to soccer practice several times per week, but the way you get really good as a child at dribbling the ball, Ronaldino-good, is to walk to soccer practice, and everywhere else, kicking a soccer ball. So, I'm not sure that upper middle class Americans are going to take the U.S. all the way to the top.

(Women's World Cup ... well, I suspect the U.S. will get relatively worse as other countries follow our lead and get into Patriotic Feminist fervors over their national women's soccer team, but perhaps if we can put her on the team, we'll scratch and claw our way to the top again.)

Second, there's a widespread assumption that 50 million Hispanics will have to make the U.S. a soccer superpower. Yet, with 110 million Hispanics, Mexico is only a middling power. And the last U.S. World Cup team had only 2.5 Hispanics out of 23 players (compared to 6 blacks).

Moreover, what happens to upper middle class white participation in soccer if the game comes to be seen by upper middle class parents not as elegantly European but as, uh, vibrantly Mexican?

Maybe something like what happened to the U.S. in international basketball. In 1992, the U.S. was overwhelmingly the best with a Dream Team of eight blacks and four whites, but since then it has been only marginally the best with virtually all black teams. White dads are now focusing their tall, athletic sons to be soccer goalies, quarterbacks, pitchers, and so forth.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

60 comments:

Billare said...

Amazon searches. Publishers began to push for long subtitles because they create keywords for customers during their search for book titles. This topic was discussed in the comments of Marginal Revolution some time ago, I think.

Billare said...

See the comment by chug here.

Ross said...

I think the book titles thing started with political books.

They wanted a short eye catching title but they needed a description to explain who the book is aimed at.

airtommy said...

Yet, with 110 million Hispanics, Mexico is only a middling power.

I've long wondered why Mexico is vastly inferior to Brazil and Argentina in soccer.

Mel Torme said...

Steve, the quick answer to your question/post was in my latest Amazon.com bestseller, entitled:

Too Damn Big: The real reason my book is a coffee table took and not normal size and the truth about my crazy literary agent's decision to increase the size due to the subtitle length as he insists the fonts must be bigger than 8-point for the old people to be able to read the cover and how I told him those old fogies can go back to gumming down their creamed corn at the early-bird special and should get off my case and just hold the book 4 ft. away and they wouldn't have a damn problem. Includes interviews with said old people.

Thanks for blowing my scam, Billare! Now, everyone's gonna start doing this.

RF Interference said...

The way the MLS is set up will prevent the US from ever becoming a world power in soccer.

The top players in all the major footballing nations are put into the development programs of professional clubs while just teenagers. These clubs retain the rights to these young players and are compensated financially if these players leave their clubs.

The economy of South American teams now is baised primarily on selling young talent they've developed to the biggest and richest clubs in Europe. They reinvest that money in their development programs and sign a few over-the-hill players coming back across the Atlantic and the cycle continues.

The MLS instituted, like the other American sports, an amatuer draft. American players come almost exclusively from the college ranks. This means the academies of American clubs aren't funded in any comperable way to their European or South American counterparts, because even if a club develops a player from age 15 onward, that player still has to enter the MLS draft. Why spend your resources developing a player you probably won't have the rights to as a professional?

Thus, there is no money being put into developing young players in the States. Our players become professional at 22 and 23 once they've graduated college, where their international peers have been training with professional clubs since 15 and full-on professionals since 17.

A lot of world class players are already into their peak years at 23 years of age.

Anonymous said...

The US won't become a soccer powerhouse any time soon, cause if they ever really take it to another level they'll actually win a game in Mexico, at which point the crowd will break down the barbed wire fence and massacre the Americans, thereby setting the team back decades.

And since such things aren't always clear on this comment page, I'm mostly joking.

Mel Torme said...

"I've long wondered why Mexico is vastly inferior to Brazil and Argentina in soccer."

AirTommy, though one of your more erudite comments, I totally refuted this sarcastic analysis with my 2nd to last book, entitled:

Ridiculous Game: Why soccer is a ridiculous game to play since one feels like one should be able to catch and throw the damn ball, since catching it with your head, heel or chest is downright stupid, and why this game is for pussies as if you want the exercise one can get from soccer, one should play ultimate frisbee, as it is much cooler, even if you don't partake of the wacky weed. Includes interviews with pussies from various Latin American countries. $19.95 USD, $20.05 Canada

dr kill said...

If brown and black people crowd the white boys out of soccer as they have every other sport, the white boys will continue inventing more and more silly events and calling them sports. eg- skateboard, BMX, free-style X game anything. Pathetic.

There is a good book in this thought somewhere. Let's call it 'White Men Can't Jump', ( but they still yearn to be thought of as atheletes so they make up silly competitions Black kids don't yet dominate).

Anonymous said...

i thought this is how books were titled in the 18 and 19th century - and that we only know them by their 'short' names.

rob said...

Hmm, a better title for a soccer book. Soccer: Who Gives a Shit?

Stopped Clock said...

The Soccer book title must be a parody of Freakonomics.

keypusher said...

The US won't become a soccer powerhouse any time soon, cause if they ever really take it to another level they'll actually win a game in Mexico, at which point the crowd will break down the barbed wire fence and massacre the Americans, thereby setting the team back decades.

And since such things aren't always clear on this comment page, I'm mostly joking.


No disclaimers necessary.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090817

Anonymous said...

If brown and black people crowd the white boys out of soccer as they have every other sport, the white boys will continue inventing more and more silly events and calling them sports. eg- skateboard, BMX, free-style X game anything. Pathetic.

I kind of think you are implying that whites are crowded out of these sports because non-whites are just soo damn good at them. But one has to acknowledge that if a sport gets big enough, pressure will be applied and non-whites will have to be included. In essence that applies to any activity invented and pursued by whites.

jim said...

The myth of hispanics beings especially talented at soccer is just that - a myth. It rest on the success of 3 countries: Brazil, Argentina, and in the early days of international competition Uruguay.

Uruguay is ethnically euro, with not much native or mestizo population. Uruguay won in 1930 when they hosted and only 4 euro teams made the trip. USA made the semis that year. They won again in 1950 after WWII when Brazil hosted. Again few euro teams participated.

Argentina also has a very ethnically euro population, Maradona was the exception to the rule.

The success of Brazil has much more to do with their large black population than their hispanic mestizo populace. Pele, Ronaldhino, etc. Obviously you need a national soccer culture, so that the poor black Brazilians grow up on soccer, too.

Mestizo populations just aren't that athletic. Mexico's complete lack of success at any sport on the international stage is evidence of that.

Anonymous said...

Most of the best players in the world are european "White". The best current Brazilian player is Kaka who is white.
The best player in the world now is Messi, a small Argentinian player.
Its impossible for one ethnic group to dominate soccer; any guy of any size can be a good player; unlike basketball or American football.

Reg Cæsar said...

The myth of hispanics [sic-- we capitalize proper words in the Anglosphere] beings especially talented at soccer is just that - a myth. It rest on the success of 3 countries: Brazil, Argentina, and ... Uruguay... The success of Brazil has much more to do with their large black population than their hispanic mestizo populace.

Brazil is not Hispanic, but Lusitanic. The word there is mestiço, and hardly applies to Brazil, where the aboriginals are even harder to find than in the US.

(BTW, Steve, it's "Ronaldinho", with an H. It's pronounced, believe it or not, hoe-now-JEAN-you, and means "Little Ronaldo", though I was under the impression he's surpassed Ronaldo!)

Its impossible for one ethnic group to dominate soccer; any guy of any size can be a good player --post-Jim anonymous

This is true of baseball and cricket as well, to the credit of all three. You don't have to win a genetic lottery to be competitive.

...unlike basketball or American football.

And isn't that the sign of either poor design, or poor development?

One way to "whiten" basketball and football is to play with another sport's rules. (Don't laugh-- bandy is essentially ice hockey played outdoors with soccer rules. )

Stretch the field/court to soccer size, stretch the clock to soccer length, get rid of "timeouts" and other stoppages, limit substitution and prohibit reentry. Blacks will either drop like flies, or, as in Eurosoccer, be carried by white teammates for much of the game while they regroup.

Anonymous said...

"The myth of hispanics beings especially talented at soccer is just that - a myth. It rest on the success of 3 countries: Brazil, Argentina, and in the early days of international competition Uruguay."

Bingo. New Worlders really aren't good at any modern sports. Soccer just happens to be a sport where they can barely keep up. The reason people ascribe soccer talent to New Worlders is because they are godawful at all the other sports, but no one wants to admit that they're just completely unathletic. And even then, New Worlders' "success" at soccer is mostly an illusion created by the genetically European and African population in New World countries.

RF Interference said...

"Stretch the field/court to soccer size, stretch the clock to soccer length, get rid of "timeouts" and other stoppages, limit substitution and prohibit reentry. Blacks will either drop like flies, or, as in Eurosoccer, be carried by white teammates for much of the game while they regroup."

I don't particularly agree with the above. I can think of a good many black midfielders that have great workrates (forwards and defenders don't do as much running by design).

SF said...

My daughter's team was kicking the Hispanic team's butts in the district tournament. It wasn't until late in the game we realized they were playing with only 10 for the tournament. The rest didn't have birth certificates

Anonymous said...

White men can't jump.

Henry Bekkering -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY_T7ITZEtI

Patrik Sjöberg - best jump never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNoaOiN2bPY

Anonymous said...

Watch this goal scored by a Spanish player called Cesc Fabregas and you will see that white guys will never be "crowded out" of soccer. The usefulness of IQ out in soccer is just too high (something to do with the large field, 11 players, and relatively slow place of play).

Incidentally the optimum height for a top football player (linked skewed toward forward positions) is between 5'6 - 5'10, so it's a myth that soccer would "compete with the big American sports".

Fabregas, Best, Platini, Pele, Maradona, di Stefano all fall within this sweet spot average-below average height. The top soccer defenders fall between 5'11 and 6'3 - tall but not massive physiques. Keeper is the only position you regularly get players taller than 6'3.

Mexicans do not need a massively athletic physique to compete at soccer (they can muddle through with keeper). Being shorter, they are the perfect size for outfield players.

What they lack is that thing important to soccer that in the most important positions (notably central defence) has tended to whittle the heights down lower than the manager might otherwise prefer them to be: IQ.

For example, though a 6'7 monster central defender should win all headers on all the opposition's set-piece play the legendary central defenders, like Paolo Maldini, who was 6'1, never break 6'3.

Anonymous said...

England went out of the last three World Cups for the following reasons:

1998 David Beckham needlessly fouled an Argentinian and was sent off.

2002 with England leading 1 nil against Brazil Beckham jumped needlessly jumped over the ball 70 yards from his own goal with only seconds left in the first half. this led to Brazil's equalizer.

2006 Wayne Rooney stamped on the genitalia of a Portuguese player ans was sent off. Portugal still could not score against ten man England but won on penalties.

The guys who wrote this book are leftie middle-class wankers who think that the 'white-working class' are basically sub-human.

This is of course the same 'white working-class' that has been insufficiently revolutionary for nigh on two centuries.

jody said...

guess i might check out this book, probably will disagree with lots of it though. germany is great at soccer mainly because after the berlin wall fell, germans dropped out of all their other sports programs and went into soccer. there used to be lots of good germans in many sports, during the cold war there was a sports cold war and it was important to "represent" as they say, in track, swimming, wrestling, boxing, tennis, and so forth. but now it's mainly soccer in germany.

japan cares A LOT about sports, but baseball is their number 1 sport, and they just aren't big enough on average to do great at soccer. lots of their tough athletes go into combat sports like sumo, judo, wrestling, and karate.

the US will probably never care enough about soccer to field a strong national team. plus, the number 1 sport in the US, american football, is played nowhere other than canada, and takes lots of athletes out of other sports that are played worldwide.

iraqis will never be good at any sport. unless jihad is a sport.

australia doesn't care much about soccer, they field good national teams in other sports with their sports institute system. you know there is widespread discrimination against euro americans in some sports when the australians can clobber the white americans with only 20 million citizens versus the 200 million euro americans. they are not told, constantly and daily, that they can't do it, should quit, and should leave sports to "real" athletes. nor do they face the endless lack of help, support, and development from the nation's sports programs, which in the US are now mainly geared toward turning football, track, and basketball 100% black at the pro level, while other sports have been turned over to the international field at the NCAA level, such as tennis. track is really quite bad when the fastest white american, trey hardee, isn't even a sprinter, but a decathlon guy.

jody said...

i generally laugh at comments about white guys developing new sports "because they suck at old sports". white guys developed or formalized every single sport that blacks enjoy, some long before blacks participated. blacks are responsible for developing almost nothing in the activity that is most interesting to them, and if they all disappeared tomorrow, white guys would continue to develop new and interesting sports every few decades. and then there's boxing, which has been pulled from american television, due to black americans getting wrecked by the international field.

i'm sure the severe knockout brett rogers took on CBS saturday night didn't help.

Anonymous said...

In 1992, the U.S. was overwhelmingly the best with a Dream Team of eight blacks and four whites, but since then it has been only marginally the best with virtually all black teams. White dads are now focusing their tall, athletic sons to be soccer goalies, quarterbacks, pitchers, and so forth.

"White Dads" also realize that they don't enforce the rulebook in basketball anymore.

Heck, just this season, the NCAA instituted a new rule which prevents "offside" [or "weakside"] defenders from sliding over and taking a charge as a player is on his way to a dunk.

I guess the NCAA thinks that television ratings will increase if they get more African-American slam-dunk highlights on Sports Center, and fewer savvy plays by Caucasian student-athletes raining on the slam-dunk parade.

Also: I have got to raise the question of Brandon Jennings again, and the absolute farce that is David Stern's NBA.

TO BE CONTINUED

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED

Recall that Jennings was the star of the 1998 MacDonald's All-American game, who couldn't make his SAT/ACT scores to enroll at the University of Arizona, and who opted instead to play for a year in Europe.

AS RECENTLY AS MAY OF THIS YEAR, Jennings still couldn't get any playing time in Europe:


High school hoops star struggles abroad
Thursday, December 4, 2008
washingtontimes.com

...The 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard has all but vanished from basketball's collective conscious. Jennings is the fourth member of Lottomatica Roma's backcourt rotation. Buried in the depth chart behind guards like former All-Big East performer Allan Ray (Villanova) and former Ivy League player of the year Ibrahim Jaaber (Penn), Jennings exited the team's first eight games averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 assists in 17.3 minutes...

Chat with Chad Ford
espn.go.com

Nick (NJ): Brandon Jennings can't "return to school" because he couldn't qualify. Everyone seems to neglect that point and assume he chose Italy over college. He couldn't get in. If I was a GM, that's a major negative for him - especially a PG which is an inteligent position.

Chad Ford: It's a good point. And for all of the talk about "life experience" and "learning how to be a pro" that he's getting in Italy ... c'mon. These are the same folks who would've criticized him had he jumped straight to the NBA. Here's my concern. Jennings hasn't been great in Italy. He's shot the ball poorly and despite a few good games, has largely been ineffective. It creates a quandry for scouts. Is Jennings struggling because of the transition from High School to international ball? Or was he over rated in high school? I'm not sure how you answer that.

Brandon Jennings, Biding his Time in Rome
May 13, 2009
draftexpress.com

...Despite the fact that his playing time has largely evaporated over the past six weeks, Jennings is taking everything in stride, handling himself with maturity not found amongst players 10 years his senior here in Europe. "That's just the hand I've been dealt" Jennings says with a smile and shrug. "If I could do it all over again, I probably would have signed with a smaller team, but things haven't worked out that bad"...

Having made a long trip out to Rome, we were all just happy to see him step on the court after notching a DNP-CD the previous week...



Now fast forward six months, and after about 7 or 8 games, Jennings is averaging more than 20 points per game and still has a huge lead in efficiency among all rookies:


2009-10 Efficiency Leaders, Rookie Class
nba.com

1 Brandon Jennings, MIL 18.17
2 Tyreke Evans, SAC 14.25
3 Jonny Flynn, MIN 13.44
4 DeJuan Blair, SAS 12.0
5 Ty Lawson, DEN 11.0
6 Stephen Curry, GSW 10.57
7 Taj Gibson, CHI
8 Chase Budinger, HOU 10.29
9 Tyler Hansbrough, IND 10.0
10 Omri Casspi, SAC 9.43


18.17 / 14.25 = 1.275, i.e. that's a 27.5% lead that he's [currently] maintaining over the second-place rookie.

Peter A said...

Its impossible for one ethnic group to dominate soccer; any guy of any size can be a good player

This is increasingly untrue in international soccer. Especially at striker, the trend is toward stronger, taller players who can outleap other players for headers and who don't get pushed around. Goalies also have to be tall. A trend towards taller and more athletic is going to favor basically the same people who produce good basketball players - Africans and northern Europeans. the ideal soccer player is 6'2" to 6'4". Soccer is a lot more physical than Americans want to believe, and little guys just get beat up. People of mestizo ancestry should stick to baseball. As others have pointed out, more Mexicans may increase TV ratings for soccer but they won't make the US more competitive.

Peter A said...

but the way you get really good as a child at dribbling the ball, Ronaldino-good, is to walk to soccer practice, and everywhere else, kicking a soccer ball.

You really think that's what English, Dutch and German kids are doing? The way you get really good, Michael Ballack or Rooney good, these days is to join a club team at age 6 and be groomed for professional soccer your entire childhood and adolescence. America has the resources to do that, and the crazy parents. We're already competitive internationally, we could very well win a world cup in the next 20 years.

Anonymous said...

If brown and black people crowd the white boys out of soccer as they have every other sport, the white boys will continue inventing more and more silly events and calling them sports. eg- skateboard, BMX, free-style X game anything. Pathetic.
like swimming where the highest paid swimmer before Peking 2008 was cullen jones, the black who almost lost the 4/x100?

As other posters have said, limit substitutions and time stoppage and at least 1/2 the RUNNINg backs, if not more, in the NFL would be white - want a comparision - rugby - even 'diverse' south africa has a majority white team.

also as even steve has noted there is a conscious effort to keep whites OUT of positions and put blacks IN - like quarterback.

Anonymous said...

Native Americans are descended from Asians so it makes sense that they do not dominate athletics either, since neither do Asians.

josh said...

Remember when the beloved womens team won the Cup in 95,with Bill and a breathles Hillary in attendance? remember how the wealthy,white Johns Hopkins?UCLA med school privileged girls stuck it to the half starved Chinese girls who prob werent even alowed to eat meat--let alone get any of the cool PE drugs that the swimmers get!? Remember how Brandy Chastain(?) pulled off her shirt and ran down the field with nothing on above the waist but a spoorts bra--causing testicles all across the country to recede faster than an Al Gore iceberg??

kudzu bob said...

I find book the modern overuse of subtitles, especially lengthy ones quite irksome. This stems from my distrust of the colon, a punctuation mark overused by the unimaginative and literal-minded.

George Orwell had a similar distaste for the semicolon, although I cannot recall his reasons; perhaps as a socialist he thought that it was too difficult for the less-educated among us to master. He might have been right, if Truth's abuse of that poor, mistreated punctuation mark is any indication.

As for the apostrophe, well... Testing 99, when are you going to learn the difference between "its" and "it's"?

Paul Mendez said...

If somebody had offered me the chance to buy into a professional soccer team in 1984, I would have invested everything I had and then some. With all the little suburban white kids I saw playing soccer every weekend, I was convinced that it would be the biggest professional sport in the US by now.

Good thing I didn't have deep pockets in 1984!

Anonymous said...

Native Americans are descended from Asians so it makes sense that they do not dominate athletics either, since neither do Asians.

So how come there is a huge intellectual difference between the two groups?

So how come one group is full of alcoholics, and the other isn't?

Edward said...

Peter A

the ideal soccer player is 6'2" to 6'4"

Wrong. Take a look at the statistics: with the important exception of goalkeeper, you'll find virtually no "great players" above 6'1.

The great defenders are all 5'11 - 6'3. Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Franz Beckenbauer.

Great midfielders and attacking midfielders are between 5'6 and 5'11. Fabregas, Platini,

Great strikers are between 5'6 and 6'3, rarely above - small or fast, like Maradona, Gerhart Muller, Michael Owen or Jean-Piere Papin. Middle height like 5'11 Wayne Rooney, Johan Cruyff or Mario Kempes, or Ronaldo (Brazilian one) who was just 6', or big and strong like Dennis Bergkamp or Marco Van Basten (6'2). Even big black Ruud Guillet, who looks very white in his current wiki pic, was just 6'1.

In fact, I challenge you to find ANY GREAT PLAYER above 6'3 on Pele's Fifa 100 list of great players. 6'2 would be enough of a challenge.

Soccer is a lot more physical than Americans want to believe, and little guys just get beat up.

I've disproved this - load of nonsense. The statistics show the complete opposite. Look at the bloody statistics before commenting!

Grrr :)
In all fairness you would not have read my first post before you commented :)

People of mestizo ancestry should stick to baseball.

They are the right height - except for goalies (current Mexican national team goalies are short - just 6' and 6'1). IQ makes the difference.

As others have pointed out, more Mexicans may increase TV ratings for soccer but they won't make the US more competitive.

I agree with this though.


BTW to the poster who claims Germany are now great - since 1990 the opposite has been true. Don't forget they got spanked 5-1 by England in Germany a few years ago!

Truth said...

"George Orwell had a similar distaste for the semicolon, although I cannot recall his reasons;"

Actually Sport, I would have gone with a period and a new sentence there.

"i'm sure the severe knockout brett rogers took on CBS saturday night didn't help."

you mean the network proclaimed "greatest fighter in the world" beating a 10-fight novice in a tune-up fight in which he was a 6-1 favorite?

Yeah that changed everything.

rob said...

The way you get really good...is to join a club team at age 6 and be groomed for professional soccer your entire childhood and adolescence. America has the resources to do that, and the crazy parents. We're already competitive internationally, we could very well win a world cup in the next 20 years.

Homer:(holding up stiff dripping shirt) See Marge, I told you I could deep fry my shirt.

Marge: I didn't say you couldn't. I said you shouldn't.

The US could turn turn into a soccer "world power", but why steal so many childhoods? It's one thing for blacks to spend their formative years hoping to play children's games when they grow up. White kids could actually learn important stuff. "Dribbling" a ball is pitiful goal(heh) in life.

Anonymous said...

So how come there is a huge intellectual difference between the two groups?

So how come one group is full of alcoholics, and the other isn't?


Native Americans are who Asians were 15 or 20 thousand years ago - they are a living, breathing window into the past.


PS: If you look at a pair of statistics like

Guatemala: average IQ 79

Japan: average IQ 105

then you can calculate [as a very rough first-order approximation] that it takes upwards of 1000 years to breed a single point of IQ improvement into a population.

Anonymous said...

Edward....
I can tell you are a Gunner from your fascination with fabregas. The current best midfield player combination are Iniesta and Xavi of barca. They dominate posession. I am yid by the way.

Anonymous said...

I made the last comment, forgot to add that Iniesta and Xavi are tiny.

Anonymous said...

BTW, enjoy the Japanese while they're still with us:

List of countries and territories by fertility rate
en.wikipedia.org

Guatemala, UN 2000-2005: 4.60
Guatemala, UN 2005-2010: 4.15
Guatemala, CIA 2000: 4.66
Guatemala, CIA 2008: 3.59

Japan, UN 2000-2005: 1.29
Japan, UN 2005-2010: 1.27
Japan, CIA 2000: 1.41
Japan, CIA 2008: 1.22

kudzu bob said...

>Actually Sport, I would have gone with a period and a new sentence there.<

Which just goes to show that Orwell might have had a point. But what would he have made of your missing commas? That it's just The Man keepin' you down? Somehow I doubt it.

Edward said...

No, I'm not a "Gunner". I just know something about soccer :)

Something I've noticed is that Spanish midfielders tend to be shorter than British ones. For some reason the Spanish select more for skill than brawn.

I wonder if that is because of the sticky, muddy pitches kids have to play on in the UK. You have to be big and powerful to get the ball in the middle of the pitch and the best tactic is to hoof the ball as far as you can over the mud rather than to play pretty passes.

Anonymous said...

Paul Mendez, I've lived and observed youth soccer practice in both America and England. My opinion is that the English kids are trained to be more all round players and develop finesse earlier. American kids tend to just kick the ball and then chase it maniacally across the pitch; whereas English kids are taught to control it with their feet as they travel. However, American soccer coaching is much more sophisticated than it used to be, and the States should have a good showing, eventually.

Anon, alcoholism has its fair share of devotees in Japan and China, they just compensate for it more efficiently.

I don't understand how Americans got the idea that soccer is a posh sport. It isn't. In England, it's the people's game, if ever there was one. Rugby is considered the "gentleman's game" in England; yet in America, it's played (at least on the local club level it never seems to rise above) by resolutely hard guys.

Anonymous said...

"I've disproved this - load of nonsense. The statistics show the complete opposite. Look at the bloody statistics before commenting!"

You can use statistics to "prove" anything, especially if you don't have a solid grasp of the subject matter. The other poster is correct - smaller players do get knocked off the ball all the time; if you are small you have to be very skillful indeed to avoid getting clobbered, and there just aren't enough small players with enough skill (ie, someone like Messi) to avoid getting muscled off the ball.

Case in point: Freddy Adu. A very skillful dribbler, but hopelessly undersized. He basically stopped growing taller at age 14 or 15 or so, and now at about age 19 he's on loan to a minor Portuguese club and getting hardly any playing time, and still hasn't broken into the starting lineup of the USMNT.

Midgets like Adu, who are skillful dribblers, would have been fine thirty or forty years ago - for instance, the English and Scottish working classes used to produce
a lot of very skillful, but tiny, forwards, wingers, and attacking
midfielders - but not anymore. It's not just that people are taller on average now, which they are, but also that the game at the top level is played at a faster pace and is more physical than it used to be, especially in the (arguably) world's top level league, the Premier League in England.

If you want to use stats to prove
your point, you need to compare height stats, and weight stats, by position, in top leagues only, now, and compare these to comparable stats from twenty years or forty years ago. You did not do that. You lose. Show that you have some understanding of the history and tactics of soccer; until then your stats are worthless.

If you want to see an obvious example of the importance of height and size, watch the USA vs. Germany matches from the past decade (for example, the 2002 World Cup) and you will notice that the entire German squad is obviously taller and heavier than the USA squad. The best athletes in Germany go into soccer, and the result is a taller, bigger, heavier team. The USA doesn't have access to the best athletes for soccer and the result is a shorter, on average, team than Germany's.

All things being equal, size does make a difference in soccer - just not anywhere to the same degree as in basketball or gridiron football. The trend in soccer over
the past forty years has been for bigger, taller players - but still well within the normal heights and sizes of average people.

rob said...

then you can calculate [as a very rough first-order approximation] that it takes upwards of 1000 years to breed a single point of IQ improvement into a population.

Too rough. It took a thousand years/point. We know the heritability of IQ is fairly high. That implies that either selection for intelligence in Asia was weak or that IQ-boosting alleles were rare and "selection had to wait" for genetic variation to arise upon which it could act.

Really Lucius, you might as well sign your posts.

Anonymous said...

"Something I've noticed is that Spanish midfielders tend to be shorter than British ones. For some reason the Spanish select more for skill than brawn"

This is an interesting point. There is a constant among footballing nations that doesnt change much. Pretty much like an accent between regions. Its just there.

Spanish teams always like to pass the ball around, and English teams always like to hoof the ball; this constant applies even when English players are out numbered in a team e.g Chelsea.

Anonymous said...

"Its impossible for one ethnic group to dominate soccer; any guy of any size can be a good player --post-Jim anonymous

This is true of baseball and cricket as well, to the credit of all three. You don't have to win a genetic lottery to be competitive."

Unless of course you want to be a fast bowler.

"This is increasingly untrue in international soccer. Especially at striker, the trend is toward stronger, taller players who can outleap other players for headers and who don't get pushed around."

Strikers vary a lot, I'd suggest in a 4-4-2 you would want one tall striker who is good with his head and another one whose height doesn't matter.


"A trend towards taller and more athletic is going to favor basically the same people who produce good basketball players - Africans and northern Europeans. the ideal soccer player is 6'2" to 6'4"."

The average height in the premiership is 5'11 and a bit. It really varies depending on position. The height range you stated is probably the ideal for a centre back.


"Something I've noticed is that Spanish midfielders tend to be shorter than British ones. For some reason the Spanish select more for skill than brawn.

I wonder if that is because of the sticky, muddy pitches kids have to play on in the UK. You have to be big and powerful to get the ball in the middle of the pitch and the best tactic is to hoof the ball as far as you can over the mud rather than to play pretty passes."

(kicks the long ball) Have it! Sorry I meant 'ave it!

That is also the traditional explanation given for the Northern Hemisphere (especially English) preference for power rugby rather than an expansive running game.

"The US could turn turn into a soccer "world power", but why steal so many childhoods? It's one thing for blacks to spend their formative years hoping to play children's games when they grow up. White kids could actually learn important stuff. "Dribbling" a ball is pitiful goal(heh) in life."

This is an important point. I am English and I recently read in the back of a magazine that for every one hundred lads who goes to a football academy one becomes a professional footballer. Bear in mind that professional football includes lads who earn bugger-all money playing in the Ryman league or whatever. It was a sports fact in the back pages of a cheap weekly men's magazine, but it sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

Too rough. It took a thousand years/point. We know the heritability of IQ is fairly high. That implies that either selection for intelligence in Asia was weak or that IQ-boosting alleles were rare and "selection had to wait" for genetic variation to arise upon which it could act.

What exactly is your point?

That the rate of change of IQ might not be constant over time?

If that's the case - and I'm assuming that you're thinking that the rate of change could accelerate over time? - then you also have to be prepared for the possibility that the rate of change could decelerate, possibly even into negative territory [e.g. with the massive dysgenic fertility that we see everywhere in the world today].

rob said...

Lucius,

You claimed that it takes a thousand years to increase a population's average IQ by one point. It can happen in a generation, which is much less than one thousand years. Did you really not get that? Really? You must be pretending.

The dysgenic trend could be reversed in one or two generations. That a problem could be fixed in forty instead of two thousand years should be wonderful news.

It won't happen with the more babies for Jesus conservatives in control. It might be ugly and undemocratic. The dumbs will have the numbers, but not the brains, they shouldn't be that hard to curb, right?

Anonymous said...

The dysgenic trend could be reversed in one or two generations.

I'm quite confident that that's more or less exactly what the Romans said to themselves - and likewise the Greeks before them - as the nihilism consumed their peoples and they vanished into extinction.

Yet we had to suffer through 600 years of Dark Ages and another 400 years of Middle Ages before we were able to recreate a worthy successor to their civilizations.

You just don't seem to have any idea how perilous are situation is right now.

Things are about to get really, really bad.

Like Dark Ages kind of bad [no pun intended].

Truth said...

"Also: I have got to raise the question of Brandon Jennings again, and the absolute farce that is David Stern's NBA."

Brandon Jennings had FIFTY-FIVE points tonight!

Through an intermediary, he wanted to send you a
message

Edward said...


If you want to use stats to prove
your point, you need to compare height stats, and weight stats,


Didn't make any claims about weight, muscle or athleticism. Let's just talk about height - the claim was made that the 6'2 - 6'4 was the perfect height for a footballer. I've shown this to be wrong by many inches.

As a poster above says, the average height of a soccer player is about 5'11.

This has something to do with coordinating the feet and getting up quickly which shorter people find easier, the necessity of IQ in the more defensive positions and the lack of importance of arm "reach" which height gives goalies and players in other sports like tennis, basketball an advantage.


and compare these to comparable stats from twenty years or forty years ago.

Nutrition has increased heights over 40 years yet the players most lauded for their footballing abilities are not much taller - if at all - than they aways were.

The world's best player Lionel Messi is 5'7. Christiano Ronaldo is 6'1. Kaka is 6'1. Rooney is 5'11. Iniesta and Xavi are 5' nothing.

These aren't big players.

Show that you have some understanding of the history and tactics of soccer; until then your stats are worthless.

If you knew anything about football you'd be able to name a great many footballers above 6'3" in height. You haven't done that because there simply aren't any and probably won't ever be any.

Soccer players have a shorter height distribution range than the big American sports. That fact is linked to the physical mechanics of playing soccer. Mexicans are therefore not too short for soccer, why their national soccer team sucks is because they lack something else important to soccer.

Anonymous said...

are = our

TD said...

If somebody had offered me the chance to buy into a professional soccer team in 1984, I would have invested everything I had and then some. With all the little suburban white kids I saw playing soccer every weekend, I was convinced that it would be the biggest professional sport in the US by now.

Not sure why you'd have been convinced of that in 1984, the year the NASL folded. What a reckless investor you'd have been!

That said, I think some of you are underestimating soccer's current growth trajectory and momentum in the United States. After the NASL's failure, the sport quietly regrouped, adopted more realistic expectations, snagged World Cup hosting duties for '94, launched MLS soon after, and has spent a decade steadily expanding its footprint. There is a dedicated, growing fanbase that isn't going anywhere.

And the blossoming of the national team is near-stunning. No, we're not a world "superpower," but don't take for granted just how far we've come, relatively fast. Today's college sophomore has never lived through a World Cup that didn't feature the United States. Everyone knows the name "Landon Donovan." American players are making inroads in the powerhouse Euro leagues. Watch ESPN's all-encompassing embrace of the World Cup next summer.

That sort of stuff just didn't exist a quarter-century ago.

Soccer doesn't need to be America's biggest sport for America to become a fixture in the world's top tier. We're big enough, rich enough, smart enough to do quite well even with soccer as a healthy subculture.

Anonymous said...

the star of the 1998 MacDonald's All-American game

Sorry - star of the 2008 MacDonald's All-American game.

RF Interference said...

Edward - Looking at the Premier League I think players have gotten bigger and stronger. It's hard to build a ton of muscle given the extreme cardio fitness level required to play soccer at the highest level. But looking around the league the last couple of seasons (ignoring keepers)...

Glen Johnson, Kevin Davies, Darren Bent, Joleon Lescott, Peter Crouch, Marouane Fellaini, Benjani Mwaruwari, Martin Skrtel, John Carew, Emile Heskey, Michael Ballack, Richard Dunne, Amr Zaki, Wes Brown, Roque Santa Cruz, John Obi Mikel, Robert Huth, Brede Hangeland, Yakubu, Jonathan Woodgate, Robin Van Persie, Kolo Toure, Matthew Upson, Sylvain Distin, Michael Carrick, Martin Laursen, William Gallas, Gareth Barry, Nicolas Anelka, Jose Bosingwa, Dirk Kuyt, Dimitar Berbatov, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Nemanja Vidic, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ledley King, Steven Gerrard, etc...

All are listed at 6' and taller. The upward limit, save for the outlier Crouchy, is about 6'5".

You mentioned Messi as [one of the] best player[s] on Earth and this is true, but players of his stature are relegated to wing, attacking midfield or second striker for the most part. You'll see midfielders (Carrick, Mikel, Gerrard, Lampard, Barry) and wingers (Ronaldo) over six feet tall. You don't find center halves or target strikers/center forwards at Messi's height.

Argent Paladin said...

You also need to compensate for the fact that athletes routinely list their heights as 1-3 inches taller than their actual heights. So, that impressive list of players over 6 feet tall is probably only half as long in reality.

Edward said...

RF Interference,

6'0 is not tall for an athlete. Compare to the NHL and NFL it's actually pretty short. The hot range for a great soccer player is very generous too, about 5'7 - 6'2.

The claim made was that 6'2 - 6'4 was the perfect height for a football player. I suggested the slight flaw with this claim was there was no evidence to support it - there were not many players, let alone "great players" above 6'2.

I've listed the heights for your cherry picked list of "tall" English Premier League below. It turns out that though they are far from "great" players, and despite being hand picked for their height, between them they do not average between the 6'2 - 6'4 height range.

One of those you listed as "tall" is down at 5'11.

So much for the "6'2 - 6'4 is the perfect height for a soccer player" thesis. I'm kicking it for fun.

Glen Johnson - 6'0
Kevin Davies - 6'0
Darren Bent - 5'11
Joleon Lescott - 6'2
Peter "beanpole" Crouch - 6'7
Marouane Fellaini - 6'4 1/2
Benjani Mwaruwari - 6'2
Martin Skrtel - 6'4
John Carew - 6'4
Emile Heskey - 6'2
Michael Ballack - 6'2 1/2
Richard Dunne - 6'1
Amr Zaki - 6'1
Wes Brown - 6'1
Roque Santa Cruz - 6'2
John Obi Mikel - 6'2
Robert Huth - 6'3
Brede Hangeland - 6'5
Yakubu - 6'0
Jonathan Woodgate - 6'0
Robin Van Persie - 6'2
Kolo Toure - 6'0
Matthew Upson - 6'1
Sylvain Distin - 6'3 1/2
Michael Carrick - 6'1
William Gallas - 6'0
Gareth Barry - 6'0
Nicolas Anelka - 6'0
Jose Bosingwa - 6'0
Dirk Kuyt - 6'0
Dimitar Berbatov - 6'2
Jamie Carragher - 6'1
Rio Ferdinand - 6'3
John Terry - 6'2
Didier Drogba - 6'2 1/2
Emmanuel Adebayor - 6'3
Nemanja Vidic - 6'2
Frank Lampard - 6'0
Fernando Torres - 6'1
Ledley King (plays with crippled knees - Martin Laursen, also on your list retired last season due to crippled knees. injury: another reason why soccer players are shorter than the big American sports?) - 6'2
Steven Gerrard - 6'0

Hand picked mean of tall players from the tallest soccer league in the world: 6.1 1/2.

You can keep trying to flog the 6'2 - 6'4 is the perfect height for a footballer hypothesis (hint: stop trying) but you will need to find a couple of inches from somewhere other than the aura of celebrity and the wonky perspective provided by the idiot's lantern.

South Africa World Cup 2010 will be a good opportunity to look at the average heights of the world's best soccer players.

I am an Aston Villa supporter BTW. We have a cool little player called Ashley Young who is only about 5'9 and would probably snap in a stiff breeze. That's another thing I've noticed. A lot of the talented young black/half-black soccer players coming through in England are small: Ashley Young, Shaun-Wright Philips, Theo Walcott, Jermaine Defoe, Aaron Lennon etc.

You would thought the scouts would pick the big "power forwards" in the Emile Heskey / Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast player) mode... but we've not got any of those. Are they not playing soccer? Are they all in youth detention before 16?