June 23, 2010

The Unbearable Whiteness of Soccer

Here's the opening of my article in Alternative Right:
I’ve been following the World Cup since Pelé went out with a bang in 1970. Over the decades, the rhetoric that quadrennially accompanies the soccer championship has grown ever more strident in its insistence that the reason most Americans find soccer less than galvanizing as a spectator sport is that they … fear diversity!

In reality, soccer, both at the international superstar level and at the park league level in America, is whiter than football, basketball, or baseball. ...

Let’s look at ESPN’s list from earlier this year of the “Top 50 players of the World Cup.” The five best players in the world -- Lionel Messi of Argentina (who is of Italian descent), Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal (a Tim Tebow-lookalike), Wayne Rooney of England, Kaka of Brazil (who is from an upper middle-class family), and Xavi of Spain --are white.

Out of the top 10, eight are white and two from West Africa. Out of the top 50, the proportions look similar. Judging from their pictures, I would say 10 are black, one is mostly white but clearly part black, and the other 39 look more or less white. None of the top 50 are East Asian or South Asian, and I don’t see any that are as mestizo-looking as, say, Diego Maradona, the star of the 1986 World Cup.

In contrast, only one American-born white guy has been selected to the NBA All Star game in the last half dozen years. Most of the prestige positions in the NFL other than quarterback are dominated by blacks.

Of the soccer top 50, 24 are white guys from the six sunny powers of Spain (9 of the top 50), Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. In other words, almost half of the global soccer superstars are Southern Europeans. As baseball discovered back in the days of Joe DiMaggio, it doesn’t really hurt your sport’s popularity to have stylish Mediterranean guys as stars. ...

FIFA could change the rules to make soccer more a test of explosiveness and sprinting ability, like American sports...

Read the rest there and comment upon it below.


137 comments:

reticentman said...

I think this is a brilliant article. Thanks Steve

You also didn't touch on some points that are related to your line of reasoning. There is an immense amount of tactical discipline required to play the game at a high level. The lack of timeouts and in game coaching is part of this too. In all the American sports the coach can tell you what to do every 30 seconds but not in soccer.

OT: In which countries is soccer not the most popular sport?
USA
Canada
The entire Indian subcontinent
New Zealand
Australia
Dominican Republic
Cuba
Maybe some other Caribbean countries?
Finland
Russia maybe?
I'm not sure about South East Asia

I'd be interested to see some analysis of weighted sports participation by population.
Soccer is clearly #1 but possibly cricket is #2?

Anonymous said...

"FIFA could change the rules to make soccer more a test of explosiveness and sprinting ability, like American sports..."

This will NEVER happen. There's a reason the only official time is kept by the ref (no clock manipulation or endless time outs); there is a reason that there are only three subs; there is a reason video replays are still not used to avoid anything that slows the game down.

It's a sport of endurance and generalized skills. It will never be a sport of specialists, sprinters, and one trick ponies.

FIFA (or more specifically, IFAB) are not going to change the nature of the game for racial reasons. Blacks do well enough in soccer as is; they just don't dominate it. Except perhaps in the case of the French "national" team, and one does have to wonder about that.

Anonymous said...

Ghana are the only African team who have qualified for the knock-out stage of the World Cup and they have been very lucky. In the 90s Africans teams did better and looked like they would make a breakthrough.

It hasn't happened because, I think, they rely too much on physique. They used to have more 'ball players' who had a little more subtlety.

Plenty of Europe's best players are black and so are at least half the Brazilian side. A decade ago half of the very good Dutch team were Black, from Suriname, but recently the Dutch has been nearly all white.

The French are so black it is a joke, although Zidane their greatest player, now retired, is a white North African. The current crop of black French players are moody and useless.

England have plenty of black players, but only the injured Ferdinand is world class.

Liberals want all sports, if not all activities, to be dominated by blacks.

Team USA had a great last gasp victory last night. I say you will beat Ghana and reach the last 8!!

Richard

Alan Adamson said...

This analysis does much more to explain why the African teams are disappointing than the loopy and doubly racist suggestion I heard from coverage this week that the problem is their European coaches who impose Western discipline on the happy-go-lucky Afircal playing style.

mark said...

You can't tell very well from the ESPN pics but Carlos Tevez and Mascherano from Argentina are both noticeably dark skinned mestizos.

OhioStater said...

If you are watching sports for nationalistic and racial pride reasons then sure, keep it the way it is.

If you are watching the game, for the game, if you are the type of person that equally wishes he could have seen Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in person, then change the game.

Since American dollars clearly fall on the "more exciting" side of the ledger, the MLS should break with FIFA and adopt rules more amenable to American sports tastes.

Kurika said...

Is the End of the World ; When England and Algeria played, I saw more whites in the African team than in the European...

Peter A said...

This has been a very interesting World Cup from the HBD point of view. Notably only one African team has made it to the final 16 - Ghana (a team with a white European coach, like most African sides). This after years of hearing about how Africa is the continent of the future - on their own home turf they performed miserably. In general the African teams lived up to the stereotype - undisciplined, poor tactics and tend to fade towards the end of games. Even Asian teams - Japan and North Korea - managed to beat African teams.

Then, I'm sure, you could easily write a whole article on the French team's meltdown - blamed by many French on the fact that the team consists primarily of spoiled athletes of African descent.

Of course we also get subjected to crap like the claim that Germany is better than Italy because Germany has embraced "diversity". I'm not sure including Poles on a German team is much of a stretch genetically. Yes, there is one great Turkish-German player and two players of mixed European-African ancestry (Boateng and Cacau) but Germany is still a very European team, compared to the UK or US teams.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get that graph? If it is correct, it is amazing. One would have a very difficult time offering anything but a genetic explanation for that.

Anonymous said...

Soccer depends much more on skill and technique than on raw athleticism.

No amount of training will make you an NFL running back or NBA forward if you don't have the right genes.

In skill- and technique-dominated sports white guys have a chance. Remember how many more white kids have access to athletic training than black kids, who are a small minority in any developed country.

691 said...

Steve, I think your argument falls apart when you consider how black even the European teams are. When I watched the US-England match I was surprised that they started more black players than we did. And the French team is practically all black, about 7/11. It seems clear that the Europeans are being pushed out of their own sport by immigrants

Anonymous said...

soccer, both at the international superstar level and at the park league level in America, is whiter than football, basketball, or baseball. ..



That's not saying much, since football and basketball in particular are almost entirely non-white. American sports could do with a little more diversity, in the literal meaning of the word. Only in America could a team composed solely of blacks be considered "diverse".

Anonymous said...

FIFA could change the rules to make soccer more a test of explosiveness and sprinting ability, like American sports...



If you want to watch explosiveness and sprinting. why don't you watch more track and field? American sports obsession with " explosiveness and sprinting" to the exclusion of skill is what makes them so boring.

Anonymous said...

You know, I bet it would not be hard for the PGA to add more "explosiveness and sprinting" to their staid and boring sport. Let's require golfers to sprint between holes and subtract a stroke from the score of the golfer who gets there first!

Seriously, the notion that all sports should be reduced to contests of " explosiveness and sprinting" is one of the sillier things you've said.

Kylie said...

Not this again!

Aaron said...

As someone who pays no attention to soccer, my image of it is formed through occasional glimpses of promotional materials, so I assumed soccer was as diverse as other sports. (Like how if your only knowledge of New York City is from watching Law & Order reruns, you might think half the judges there are black women.)

Now that I know better, I finally understand why middle class white Americans -- who have no interest in soccer themselves, not having the Euro-envy of the upper class SWPL crowd -- are so enthusiastic about having their kids play the game.

Zimri said...

Your list was mostly Mediterranean, not precisely "White" in American / north-European terms.

I notice in our bracket, Algeria also did well, as a function of their population size. And then there's Slovenia, an economic extension of Italy, Austria, and Dalmatia.

Steve F said...

It seems like you over state your case a little, and the fact that you don't know the races (only looking at pictures) hurts your argument.

I will say that the top soccer players of W. African heritage tend to be strikers. Guys like Henry, E'to, Drogba, etc... all excel at hanging out at one end of the field and then using a quick burst of speed/power to score.

Anonymous said...

"FIFA could change the rules to make soccer more a test of explosiveness and sprinting ability, like American sports..."

Probably not necessary. If a country becomes 5%-10% black, then the football team will be pretty black (i.e. France).

Of all the middle income and rich countries that are into football, how black are they? Just Brazil and France have large black minorities.

Look at the Brazilian team, almost like the French team.
http://bettingexpertblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/brazil-national-football-team-kaka.jpg

There is already enough athleticism in football for blacks to steamroll over Europeans.

Half Sigma said...

I guess whites have a comparative advantage in soccer, which requires more endurance and skill and less brute strength and jumping.

Dutch reader said...

"So, FIFA [...]thinks soccer is fine the way it is, as a white-dominated sport. The rest of the world seems to agree."

Funny thing is, in Europe (or at least in the Netherlands) I don't think football is perceived in terms of being a white-dominated sport at all. While the Netherlands has produced a number of crack white players, many of the highest profile players have been black (or half black), like Gullit, Rijkaard, Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert etc., and they seem to me get more attention from press and fans than the white players.

A case in point is that when the Netherlands and Belgium co-hosted the European championships in 2000, Amsterdam was full of posters advertising the city as "Masterdam", with action photos of overwhelmingly black (or at least non-white) soccer players and captions like "I'm so fast I can assist myself".

In South Africa, too soccer seems to be regarded as a the black sport (rugby on the other hand is supposed to be a white sport).

Asante Samuel said...

I explain the whiteness of soccer easily, and I believe, correctly with a simple observation.

When white boys are crowded out of a sport by better athletes of other colors, they invent a new sport, a sport they alone can dominate for a time. They dominate because they made it up.

See X-Games for examples of the inventiveness of white boys, and their incredible success at getting people to believe that stupid X-Game crap is really sport.

It's sort of the same reason that stupid white kids go to Law school or other Humanities graduate degrees when they can't get into Med school.

A painless ego massage.

George said...

Why this constant obsession with "whiteness". Why does n't he write an article excoriating the NBA for it's "blackness". The problem with soccer seems unbearable only to him.

OhioStater said...

The southern European teams, and their south American colonial descendants, flop whenever contacted and plead with the referees given the opportunity.

By contrast, the northern European teams generally are more disciplined and don't flop on contact.

Maybe this is not a winning formula since the teams from the sunny parts of the white world are the leading soccer powers.

Of course, some things are more important than winning!

Anonymous said...

Italy has just crashed out of the world cup.

Anonymous said...

This once white country followed your advice and the result is far from brilliant.

Insulting the coach, going on strike, shunning an allegedly gay player, or complaining about the presence of non-halal food didn't help either.

Despite these minor cultural differences, they might still win, after all.

Just kidding.

Steve Sailer said...

I spent some time looking at pictures of Carlos Tevez, and eventually decided he looked like a bunch of Italian guys I've known. (Of course, that doesn't rule out he's Italian-Amerindian, either).

IHTG said...

The main message of your recent article seems to be that Mediterraneans Dominates Soccer.

It seems that then the US is simply being pragmatic in its disregard for soccer, given that its mainstream culture was created by, well, everybody BUT the Mediterraneans. Northern Europeans, Jews*, African-Americans. Sure, Italians have gained power in the US but have they pushed the general culture in an "Italian" direction at all? It looks like mafia movies have served to compartmentalize their culture in a way, preventing it from spreading out.

Also, does this mean that the English are chumps for making such a big deal out of a sport that isn't meant for the tawny-haired?

*I guess you could argue that Jews are Mediterraneans but Israeli soccer is not so hot.

dearieme said...

I saw Mickey Mantle. The hot dogs were good.

P.S. I would take with a pinch of salt any source that reckoned Mr Rooney was one of the top five footballers in the world. He's only about the fourth best striker in England, after (in alphabetical order) Drogba (Ivory Coast), Torres (Spain) and van Persie (Netherlands).

Howard Hughes said...

Well, soccer is fairly diverse in one way: pretty much every people can succed to some degree. White guys may be the most dominant group, but blacks aren't doing that bad either and the East Asian teams generally overperform.
Every country plays based on their strong sides. African teams are muscular and physical, North European and Northeast Asian teams like Sweden, Germany and South Korea usually have sound defense and tactics, while Brazil and Co thrive on individual skill and offense.

josh said...

I just happened to read an article somewhere about this Lionel Messi. What a strange story. Seems he had some genetic growth problem,was gonna be 4'9. He went to play in Spain and they helped him get the drugs he needed to grow to a strapping 5'7. Still he is an awesome player,apparently. He doesnt get along well with his fellow Argentinian Maradona. Its a bit of HBD.There are questions about him being a "true" Argentinian,as he played for Spain. And questions about Diego being a dumb ass who cant coach and is going to screw up the team and Messi. And Wayne Rooney? He is as Irish as Pat O'Brien getting drunk on St. Paddy's Day and banging Maureen O'Hara. Rooney is good,but think--if only he had that Brit IQ think what he would be capable of!! You know,like Tony whats his name from BP!

Anonymous said...

I have tried to understand your work habits. For a while you will have multiple posts each day and then there will several days in a row with nothing from you. I guess that during those periods you are engaged in original research. If so - bravo!

I don't know if your hypotheses will hold up but they have great face validity and are likely to stimulate more analyses.

There is a passage in North Dallas Forty where one character explains that if a football team has no spooks - their slang for blacks - it will lose most of its games but if a team has all spooks it will lose all of its games. This suggests that there is an optimum race ratio. You might consider this theory for your next sports study.

I notice that on the Alternative Right site there are a lot of ignorant and abusive comments. Their comment section is not subject to prior editorial review. This seems to suggest that you suppress a lot of the stupid and angry comments. True?

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

I explain the whiteness of soccer easily, and I believe, correctly with a simple observation.


When white boys are crowded out of a sport by better athletes of other colors, they invent a new sport, a sport they alone can dominate for a time. They dominate because they made it up.



The problem with that "simple observation" is that soccer is an old sport, not one recently "made up" by unathletic white boys.

For that matter all the professional team sports which we watch were invented by white guys.

Some of them have had their rules altered over time, but to favor blacks rather than whites. Soccer is a hold-out in this regard.

Anonymous said...

If African teams fail, you can blame you-know-who.

BamaGirl said...

"You can't tell very well from the ESPN pics but Carlos Tevez and Mascherano from Argentina are both noticeably dark skinned mestizos."

Bull. There are members of my extended family who are darker than them. Most white people can tan you know. If they have Indian ancestry its pretty minimal.

BamaGirl said...

"Your list was mostly Mediterranean, not precisely "White" in American / north-European terms."

Mediterraneans are "white" in American/north-european terms and always have been. Where are you getting this nonsense from? Do you need to have pink skin and lightish hair/eyes to be considered white now? And there are northern euros who are dark-complected too. My paternal extended family is very northern european (British/Irish) but they are considerably darker than the more "mediterranean" side of my family.

Anonymous said...

I would take with a pinch of salt any source that reckoned Mr Rooney was one of the top five footballers in the world. He's only about the fourth best striker in England, after (in alphabetical order) Drogba (Ivory Coast), Torres (Spain) and van Persie (Netherlands).



The league scoring records say otherwise. I'd take Rooney over Torres or VP any day.

Anonymous said...

he main message of your recent article seems to be that Mediterraneans Dominates Soccer.


It seems that then the US is simply being pragmatic in its disregard for soccer, given that its mainstream culture was created by, well, everybody BUT the Mediterraneans. Northern Europeans, Jews*, African-Americans.



Soccer is the most Anglo-Saxon sport imaginable. It was invented and popularized by those notable Anglo-Saxonists, the Anglo-Saxons.

Anonymous said...

In some countries, soccer doesn't lack explosiveness.

Anonymous said...

You could change football to have more substitutions...
you could also watch tag team boxing rather than boxing (which would also favour sprinters over endurance)...
but people in general would see tag team boxing as ridiculous, rather than exciting...

Anonymous said...

If you are watching sports for nationalistic and racial pride reasons then sure, keep it the way it is.


If you are watching the game, for the game, if you are the type of person that equally wishes he could have seen Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays in person, then change the game.



Because the baseball of Mantle and Mays was distinguished by its devotion to the 100 yard dash?

This notion that all sport should be some variation on sprinting is flat-out asinine. Perhaps American "sports fans", so called, might learn to appreciate others aspects of athletic performance instead.

Anonymous said...

I thought the reason Soccer Moms liked Soccer so much is because it's easy enough for their unathletic white kids to play, and they associate it with Europe, which they consider more their cup of tea than the US. They aren't interested in it as a sport per se.

While I'm speculating, I'd also assume they hate really competitive US sports like Football, NCAA basketball. Too aggressive and too American.

IHTG said...

"Soccer is the most Anglo-Saxon sport imaginable. It was invented and popularized by those notable Anglo-Saxonists, the Anglo-Saxons."

Yeah, I know, but just because you invented something doesn't mean you're the best at it.

OhioStater said...

"It thinks soccer is fine the way it is, as a white-dominated sport. The rest of the world seems to agree."

Money talks; if the rest of the world loved soccer they'd pay more money for it!

The 2010 World Cup is scheduled to earn $3.4 billion in revenue, whereas the NFL earned $6 billion in revenue in 2009.

So FIFA earns $3.4 billion every four years and the NFL earns $6 billion in one year?

FIFA, and the rest of the world, have a lot to learn from us!!!

rich s. said...

The very nature of soccer is suspect. It's as if you held a spelling bee but disallowed vowels.

Anonymous said...

The heading of your post reminded me of my favorite academic paper title: "The Unbearable Whiteness of Skiing" by Annie Gilbert Coleman. It was published in the Pacific Historical Review in 1996.

asdfasdfasdf said...

"I explain the whiteness of soccer easily, and I believe, correctly with a simple observation.
When white boys are crowded out of a sport by better athletes of other colors, they invent a new sport, a sport they alone can dominate for a time. They dominate because they made it up."

This is true of many sports--like the American Gladiators--, but soccer is not one of them. Soccer is the premier and favored sport for many whites outside the USA.

dfasdfasdfasdf said...

Mediterraneans are "white" in American/north-european terms and always have been.

Not so. America at one time didn't categorize Portuguese and Italians as whites. Even some Northern Italians feel that way about Southern Italians, who comprised bulk of immigrants to the US.

poolside said...

Young blacks who play club soccer in the U.S. tend to rely solely on the one advantage they have over their peers -- pure speed.

Which works great at the younger ages, and even into college. But while they are content to outrun everyone to the ball, their white/Latino counterparts are learning technical skills ... how to possess, pass and strike.

Black players often lag behind in these key areas because they don't need them when they are tearing up the pitch at U13.

So the black players' success at the younger ages winds up hurting them down the road.

Look at USMNT striker Jozy Altidore. A perfect physical specimen when he is running at you, strong and fast, but he has feet like stone.

BTW, Steve, you are right about the soccer establishment in the U.S.

Nike and US Soccer are embarrassed about soccer's whiteness and are doing everything they can to change it. Whenever they show you the "face of soccer" in America, it's never who is really playing the sport ... little Blake and Meghan out in the suburbs.

AlphaOmega said...

An all white Danish team lost to Japan? Steve, what's the HBD aspect of this result?

Anonymous said...

"If African teams fail, you can blame you-know-who."

Diversity is success! Er.... Except when there's a chance to be nationalistic about African nations and how they would be so much more awesome if they didn't have it...

"foreigners continue to make an impolite habit of parachuting in". Indeed. Can't imagine seeing this rhetoric in certain other parts of the NYT... Or the word foreigners used with a negative complement (without quote marks).

Tom V said...

Asante:

Soccer as we know it existed long before American football adopted black-friendly changes. Anyone with a half brain who read Steve's article would understand that.

Whites did invent the law, along with modern medicine, science, engineering, and everything in between. And no, they didn't do so to boost their ego and hide their failures. That would be blacks and Black Studies.

agnostic said...

"American sports obsession with " explosiveness and sprinting" to the exclusion of skill is what makes them so boring."

Americans' pop entertainment is the only major one that has kept alive the spirit of action, tumult, and the sublime, which the English haven't been able to make since the Elizabethan tragedy.

Watching soccer is like jogging through one of those overlong French novels that needs some more shit being blown up like the monastery in The Jew of Malta.

It's not just Americans, btw, as Canadians and Australians aren't rabid soccer fans either, and their national sports like hockey and rugby are closer to the American than English norm.

The rowdy people from Shakespeare's time took their sports tastes and themselves to the colonies, leaving only soccer behind in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Both Japan and South Korea have moved on to the final 16. They're probably the two most racial homogenous teams left, with no players who are white or black or any shade in between.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, the notion that all sports should be reduced to contests of " explosiveness and sprinting" is one of the sillier things you've said."

Steve made clear that our AMERICAN tastes are for sports like this. It's clear he's right. His explanation should suffice when people scratch their head wondering why soccer as a spectator sport has not taken off in this nation.

If one wishes for soccer to enjoy success as a spectator sport in this country, the sport would have to evolve into a different game than the one we see now.

Hey, the NBA was changed by the ABA and the NFL by the AFL. The offenses of each were changed by the competing leagues, and, in the eyes of the consumer, offered a more entertaining product.

Anonymous said...

"Is the End of the World ; When England and Algeria played, I saw more whites in the African team than in the European..."

LOL, I saw this too. I'm also glad France was humiliated... who would root for an almost all-black France team? It's a joke. They might as well be playing for the Moon as pretend to represent France.

Anonymous said...

Wayne Rooney looks like one of those Irish caricatures from anti-Irish cartoons in late 19th-century newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Carlos Tevez definitely looks like he has some Amerind admixture. Aside from the swarthiness, he doesn't look very Italian in terms of facial structure.

Stir the Pot said...

It may be a former-British colony thing.

Soccer is not the #1 sport in several former-British colonies, notably all with substantially white populations, with colonial types preferring rougher games with more contact & risk.

Methinks the Brit's that left the UK way back were a tougher breed than those at home, they needed to be to leave friends & family & then deal with often extreme climate & hostile natives. So, their preferred sports were tougher also.

In Canada it's ice hockey, with hard checks & fights. In New Zealand & S Africa its rugby. In the US & Australia its a local rugby we call football.

All comments welcome.

Anonymous said...

BTW, this title is a pale shadow of "The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being Ken Burns". Keep the Aces up your sleeve for when they work best.

Edward said...

The dominance of whites over blacks in soccer is both due to the endurance factor and general intelligence. These assertions can be tested.

Endurance: African teams and players should do better in the first half of matches than the second (e.g. half time versus full time scores, half in which player scored a goal).

General intelligence: the proportion of top African players in the soccer positions which require highest intelligence: Goalkeeper and defence.

As for 'moody African players', how about this -

For a few weeks (about 10-15 I think) at the start of last season I noted down the scoring stats in the English Premier League, by race.

I found that the white players scored more often in the second half of matches AWAY from home much more often than black players. Black players, however, scored more of their goals in the first half at home matches, although they also scored often in the second half and in the first half away from home.


The high proportion of Mediterranean whites is I think an economic issue combined with environmental advantage (of the why Australians are so good at sports kind).

1. There are fewer lucrative career opportunities in Mediterranean style economies, so young bright working class kids are not sucked into the economies as in Northern Europe (to date. E.g. Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard were working class kids).

2. Young kids in Mediterranean grow up in drier, warmer climate which means they can practice soccer skills more days in the year - perhaps 20% more days in the year than in Northern Europe.

Also the climate affects the kind of skills they can develop.

In England the classic 'long ball game' was designed to lift the ball over the sticky mud. Powerful, aggressive midfield players were required to tackle hard to get it back when the ball got stuck in the mud. Spain's short passing game is appropriate for flat, dry surfaces, where more ball skills can be displayed.

Matra said...

The neocon magazine Commentary has come up with two interesting reasons why Americans shouldn't play at the World Cup:

While I wish the American World Cup team well, as I would any endeavor in which my fellow citizens represent our country, the business of wrapping team sports in national flags is sheer humbug. Which is why I despise the World Cup in the same way I detest other instances of sports globaloney...It is far better to leave this nonsense to the denizens of Old Europe, unstable South America, and the despotic Middle East, whose one democracy, Israel, is not allowed to compete against its neighbors in soccer but must instead play against the powerhouses of Europe to get into the World Cup, and thus has never been allowed to participate.

Jonathan Tobin

I interpret that to mean the World Cup sucks because nationalism sucks (I guess he prefers contests between corporate franchises made up of mercenaries), some non-democratic countries like it, and because Israel rarely gets to the final tournament.

I don't know if it's come up before but one of the 'skills' required to be successful in soccer is to be able to think on your feet and anticipate what is going to happen. Where the ball is likely to go, getting into the right place to help a teammate, and adjusting on the fly. American sports like football and baseball are more planned - indeed they are micromanaged - with the athlete following instructions most of the time rather than thinking for himself. You can have all the ball control skills in the world and an accurate shot but if you can't read the game on your own without constant consultation from a coach then you're not much use in soccer.

rob said...

I'd also assume they hate really competitive US sports like Football, NCAA basketball. Too aggressive and too American.

Basketball for little kids is retarded. If you think soccer's a low-scoring game, watch a dozen 3 and a half footers play on a regulation hoop.

Football is a horrible choice of a sport for most kids. To a good approximation, 100% of them will never play pro football. Why trash your kids body for nothing? You ever see those healthy, lean middle aged men who were linemen? Neither has anyone else.

What's the point of turning soccer into basketball? Basketball has the basketball fan market all sewn up.

rast said...

Steve, AltRight has their own comments section, so shouldn't you be asking your readers to comment there?

As for explosiveness, ice hockey has tons of that (thanks to constant substitution), but its lily white because of the emphasis on skill in passing, shooting, and other QB-like areas where whites excel.

It also has about twice as much scoring as soccer, and at least 10 times the shots on goal. Not to mention much less diving and whining...

Lucille said...

While I'm speculating, I'd also assume they hate really competitive US sports like Football, NCAA basketball. Too aggressive and too American.

I doubt it. While most of them probably don't care about pro sports, I don't think they are especially likely to have a strong preference for soccer; their kids could easily take up Little League baseball, or basketball, et cetera. A cousin of mine played hockey throughout his school days, even traveling with his team across the country.

American Soccer Mom said...

Why do Soccer moms like soccer?

Based on my observations of having three sons play fall (and summer) soccer and spring baseball in Southern California:

- Soccer games are done in an hour. Baseball games routinely last 2+ hours at the upper levels.

- It's cheaper (registration + team fees) than football or baseball. Baseball cost us $280 per kid this season. I hear football is about $1,000 for pop warner. Recreational soccer costs us ~$175 per kid. (The more competitive Signature Soccer is capped at $300 per season. Club soccer is $1,000-$2,400.)

- Less politics than little league (at the recreational level, anyway). Everyone is required to play 75% of the time.

- Provides more exercise than baseball or football. I see so many fat kids or boys with love handles playing football and baseball. My 11 year old has had a six pack since he was 8 from all the running in soccer.

- Less risk of injury than football. Of the young kids (under 13) I know who played football this fall, I know one who got a concussion (age 10), two kids who broke their arms, and one broken collar bone. I've seen one broken arm happen in a soccer game in the 10 seasons my oldest son has played.

Unathletic kids can play soccer at the younger ages but as they get older and if you want to play club level (competitive) you need to have some level of speed and coordination.

I don't think you need to change a thing about soccer to suit American tastes. From what I am reading, this world cup has doubled the audience from the previous one and MLS attendance is on the upswing. Soccer is the future - the younger generations (under 40) are more into watching soccer than their parents.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, the notion that all sports should be reduced to contests of " explosiveness and sprinting" is one of the sillier things you've said."

Steve made clear that our AMERICAN tastes are for sports like this.



That's not responsive to the point you were ostensibly commenting on.

In addition, your claim is wrong. Americans (or AMERICANS) watch a number of sports which don't depend that much on speed in a dash - baseball, golf, tennis, etc, all of which are slower paced games than is soccer.

texas first! said...

As much as I would love to appreciate all the wonderful skill on display, I can't get past the unsportsmanlike and effeminate "flopping". Has it always been a part of the game?

SGOTI said...

Interesting comment Stir the Pot. That's pretty much what I always thought based upon the sterling empirical evidence of, "Hmmm, I wonder why. . ."

Anonymous said...

To long-suffering England fans, Germany's footballers are an all-too familiar foe.
But the side that the Three Lions will face in Sunday's World Cup clash is anything but representative of the old Germany.
In fact, many of them wouldn't have even been able to play for the three-times World Cup winners, until a recent change in the country's strict citizenship laws.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1289389/World-Cup-2010-England-vs-Germany-new-citizens-make-rivals-team.html

Anonymous said...

Wrong title. All the top leagues in Europe sport more than their fair share of African players.

Anonymous said...

Hey, the NBA was changed by the ABA and the NFL by the AFL. The offenses of each were changed by the competing leagues, and, in the eyes of the consumer, offered a more entertaining product.




And MLB juiced the ball and turned a blind eye to steroids in order to get more home runs.

I just don't get why you think any of this nonsense reflects well on American so-called "sports fans". They're not sports fans. By and large they're bored dopes who want to be entertained, and who lack the sporting knowledge to be entertained by the subtle skills of any sport. They need razz-ma-tazz, they need firewords, they need reverse dunks, they need a guy being dropped head-first onto the turf, they need something to happen that lets even them see that something is going on. Because actual sport would bore them to tears.

We had this big discussion about football (American football) here about a year ago. One of the points that came up was that the tackling techniques used are a bit of a joke, from the standpoint of stopping the opposing players. Defenders are expected to "lay a hit" on the guy with the ball, deliver a big impressive shot to the him, preferably with the helmet. (Does anyone ever get called for spearing?)

As a method of stopping the other guy it's far from optimal, but its what everyone is taught from college onwards. Because it gives that "Wow! factor, and at the end of the day the game is just a slightly more respectable version of professional wrestling. It's about entertainment first and sport a distant second.

Anonymous said...

Americans' pop entertainment is the only major one that has kept alive the spirit of action, tumult, and the sublime, which the English haven't been able to make since the Elizabethan tragedy.


Watching soccer is like jogging through one of those overlong French novels that needs some more shit being blown up like the monastery in The Jew of Malta.



Thanks for making my point. When Americas talk about "sport" they are really looking for an entertainment spectacle, one that just so happens, by some coincidence, to occur in what is nominally a sporting setting. It might just as easily involve watching some special effects on the movie screen.

But the spectacle is considered a success to the extent that any boring sporting activity is sublimated into the entertainment. The important thing for the American entertainment fan is seeing some shit get blown up.

The Bear said...

It's very ammusing to read the comments attributing the success of blacks in basketball and football to "explosiveness and sprinting". Leave it to the great Tom Wolfe to tell like it is in the chapter "The Whole Black Player Thing" from "I Am Charlotte Simmons":

"His son was going to make it. Dad believed he knew why he himself never had, despite all his clippings and stats. He'd had the misfortune of playing in the 1970s, when the black players had begun to dominate the game at the college level and captivate the recruiters. Perennial basketball powers like Bradley and St Bonaventure were daring to put all-black teams on the court. Jojo's dad was no genious perhaps, but he had figured out one thing: the advantage the black players had was absolute determination to prevail in this game. To them it was a disgrace to let yourself be pushed around by anybody and terminal humiliation to let yourself be pushed around by a white player."

Matra said...

OhioStater: Money talks; if the rest of the world loved soccer they'd pay more money for it!

The 2010 World Cup is scheduled to earn $3.4 billion in revenue, whereas the NFL earned $6 billion in revenue in 2009.

So FIFA earns $3.4 billion every four years and the NFL earns $6 billion in one year?

FIFA, and the rest of the world, have a lot to learn from us!!!


It's not a league like the NFL. They merely organise the World Cup and a few unimportant tournaments. The European governing body, UEFA, organises the European Championships and European club tournaments. Each country has its own football associations that organise domestic leagues. So the revenue in the sport is far greater than what the World Cup brings in every 4 years.

On the subject of FIFA I've noticed that the North American media use the acronym every time they refer to the World Cup like they were trying to give it as much brand recognition as possible. (I noticed Steve referring to the "FIFA boys" recently). When I lived in Europe I rarely ever heard the term in media unless a rule change or a disciplinary issue was being discussed. Unless things have changed the BBC and RTE would just say "coming up next World Cup action from...", or "at the World Cup today..." but the governing body's acronym always precedes any mention of the World Cup in the North American media. I even heard one guy on the radio say "after the break news from the NBA, and FIFA". Sounds really weird.

Anonymous said...

One thing omitted from your discussion, is the fact that soccer people worldwide don't consider white players incapable of playing "fast" or "speed" positions. This is in marked contrast to many people in American sports establishment ( In this instance, I'm talking the big 3 sports.) who react to white guys with excellent speed or jumping ability often with either incredulity or denial.

Regarding the fact that most of the stars are of Mediterranean ancestry, I think that is probably a combination of better climate than in the Northern European countries and the fact that Southern Euros are probably more explosive on average than their Northern cousins. As a big international sports fan, I have noticed that both the Italian and Argentinian national basketball teams have no difficulty playing a more "African-American" style of hoops and competing with American teams very well in contrast to teams from Northern Europe who still play basketball like Indiana high school teams from the 1950's.

Remember it was Italy that gave the 2004 Team USA full of NBA stars their worst defeat ever in an Olympic tune-up game (18 points) and it was Argentina that beat Team USA badly in both the 2002 World Championships ( Their first ever loss with NBA players. ) and in the 2004 Olympics as well and were competitive with Team USA in 2008 until their best player went down in the first quarter. The Argentina starting five in 2004 was I think nearly all players of Italian ancestry with maybe one German if memory serves.

Getting back to soccer, Cristiano Ronaldo from what I have read has been timed at 21 mph during a game and this included times when he was in possession of the ball, which is even more remarkable. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest sprinter is apparently a big fan of both Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and has given Ronaldo advice on how to run faster for longer distances by changing his sprinting technique, something I don't think he would volunteer for a guy he didn't think had the athletic ability ( Codeword for Speed. ) to take advantage of it. I guess my point would be if a sport is dominated at the high end by Southern Euros don't assume it doesn't possess great athletes or require a lot of athleticism in order to succeed in.

Anonymous said...

Steve, good post, but what everyone has so far missed is the Latin American dimension to this World Cup. Right now, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, and, hopefully tomorrow, Chile, will have made it to the next round.
A Santiago Reader

guest007 said...

Anyone who believes that middle class whites will watch soccer in the future needs to remember that no one watches high school or college soccer whereas 75,000 plus fill college stadiums to watch football.

Soccer has the problem that it as disconnected from schools as soccer in Europe. Once the middle class kids get to college, most of them give up the idea of playing, following, or watching soccer.

Anonymous said...

"I just don't get why you think any of this nonsense reflects well on American so-called 'sports fans'."

Did we claim anything "reflected well"? Seems to me we are pointing out the difference in taste--it's all in what you are raised with and get used to.

BTW, while American football is quite violent and while those who sit home and watch do their share of drinking, nothing seems able to match the hooliganism of the European soccer fan.

Perhaps if there were more action on the field, they'd be less inclined to get so blasted??????

ironrailsironweights said...

So FIFA earns $3.4 billion every four years and the NFL earns $6 billion in one year?
FIFA, and the rest of the world, have a lot to learn from us!!!


It's not a league like the NFL. They merely organise the World Cup and a few unimportant tournaments.

The English Premier League and the NFL are very close to one another in terms of total revenues, competing for the title of the world's wealthiest sports league. They differ considerably in terms of revenue distribution, however, as the EPL has a major and growing worldwide popularity while the NFL is largely US-only.

Peter

adfadfadfa said...

"The Unbearable Whiteness of Soccer"

I don't think anyone really cares that there are lots of whites in soccer or that white teams win often.

Thursday said...

Soccer depends much more on skill and technique than on raw athleticism.

Except of course, as Steve has pointed out before, Soccer is inherently pretty clumsy and random. It would be hard to think up a game worse for displaying skill and technique.

Thursday said...

By and large they're bored dopes who want to be entertained, and who lack the sporting knowledge to be entertained by the subtle skills of any sport.

Oh, please. Soccer fans in places where soccer is actually popular are the among the crudest and stupidest sports fans the world over.

agnostic said...

"The important thing for the American entertainment fan is seeing some shit get blown up."

Exactly -- so much more gripping and transcendent than a bunch of French courtier fags verbally dicing each other up to advance their petty status.

All the enduring works of literature are packed with action and have a body count, from the Pagans to the Bible to the Elizabethans.

The English of the 1590s would've rather watched the second Rambo movie -- with its themes of love, death, trust, betrayal, revenge, honor, and courage -- rather than try to swallow and keep down the "witty repartee" of Bridget Jones' Diary.

Anonymous said...

The English of the 1590s would've rather watched the second Rambo movie -- with its themes of love, death, trust, betrayal, revenge, honor, and courage -- rather than try to swallow and keep down the "witty repartee" of Bridget Jones' Diary.


I suppose at least some of them would. But I'm pretty sure that both the Rambo fans and those of Bidget Jones know the difference between sport and entertainment for the sake of entertainment.

But I give you props for suggesting that the Bard of Avon might have written the screen-play fr "First Blood" had he lived in a different time.

I just have trouble imagining Stallone delivering a soliloquy.

Anonymous said...

Soccer fans in places where soccer is actually popular are the among the crudest and stupidest sports fans the world over.



Well, you can't expect everyone to live up to the gentlemanly high standards of basketball fans in LA and Detroit, now can you? I hear that when those guys riot, they do so with a copy of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason under one arm.

Truth said...

"That would be blacks and Black Studies."

And Asian studies?

Anonymous said...

BTW, while American football is quite violent and while those who sit home and watch do their share of drinking, nothing seems able to match the hooliganism of the European soccer fan.


From a recent news report.

"A jubilant celebration over the Los Angeles Lakers' dramatic win in the NBA championship game turned rowdy in scattered sections of the city, with raucous revelers hurling rocks and bottles at police, setting fires and jumping on vehicles.

Police spokesman Cleon Joseph said Friday 38 people had been arrested, most for public intoxication and others for vandalism and inciting a riot.

Television news footage showed one man being beaten and a car set on fire. Broken glass and burnt debris lined the streets."

Truth said...

"Carlos Tevez definitely looks like he has some Amerind admixture. Aside from the swarthiness, he doesn't look very Italian in terms of facial structure."

Any fool would tell you that guy is "part" Indian, I think we have a bunch of half-blind dumbasses here.

Anonymous said...

I love the commenters who read the title and then criticize you without bothering to read the article and find out that you aren't actually calling for a change to the rules of soccer. I love them even more if they read the article all the way through and still don't get it. How can we fail with folks like that on our side?

stari_momak said...

Well, if we are going to subdivide Euro-Caucasians into North and South (and why not?) then let's do it east and West too. We have two Slavic countries that have the population of middle to smallish US counties that performed quite well -- Slovenia and Slovakia, with the latter advancing to the elimination. Serbia is a bit bigger, and they too played well, though they didn't advance (great game between them and the nearly all Anglo-Celt Australian team, btw).

I still contend that as far as all around athletic ability, Slavs are probably the best in the world -- NBA players, great footballers, pretty decent in the road cycling,
tennis, etc. Maybe its just that they don't (as of yet) have many blacks in their countries.

And no, I'm not a slav, not even a wanna be.

Anonymous said...

"The important thing for the American entertainment fan is seeing some shit get blown up."

Enough with the hyperbole--we love baseball as well as football and no shit gets blown up in baseball.

Anonymous said...

...This will NEVER happen. There's a reason the only official time is kept by the ref (no clock manipulation or endless time outs); there is a reason that there are only three subs; there is a reason video replays are still not used to avoid anything that slows the game down.

It's a sport of endurance and generalized skills. It will never be a sport of specialists, sprinters, and one trick ponies...


What you just wrote describes the game of [American] football up until about the mid-1950s, when the substitution rule was altered and platooning & specialization quickly came to dominate the sport.

Heck, it even describes the game of basketball, up until about the mid-1980s, and the arrival of thugball [thanks to John Thompson with the Georgetown Hoyas and Chuck Daley with the Detroit Pistons].

Point being that ANY game can be altered [rather dramatically, and rather suddenly] by either fiddling around with the actual rules in the rulebook itself, or by messing with the sense of fidelity to the rules in the rulebook which the officiating crews feel obligated to honor.

Anonymous said...

"An all white Danish team lost to Japan? Steve, what's the HBD aspect of this result?"

I have no clue about what skills are needed for soccer but here are some purely hbd ideas.

-East Asians have an agility advantage over other groups
-East Asians are the fastest sprinters after blacks

Chris said...

An all white Danish team lost to Japan? Steve, what's the HBD aspect of this result?

A guess: Japan's population being nearly 25 times bigger than Denmark's had something to do with it.

Gene Berman said...

IHTG:

"but have they pushed the general American culture in an Italian direction...?

Not unless you might enjoy pizza or spaghetti (or both together). Maybe Sophia Loren or Gina Lollabrigida (or both together--now there's a thought!)

And, though not the most "general" of cultural styles, there's opera. And, "once removed," all the Shakespeare stuff with an Italian locus or theme. And, last but not least, don't forget "spaghetti westerns."

ben tillman said...

And the French team is practically all black, about 7/11. It seems clear that the Europeans are being pushed out of their own sport by immigrants.

Before the emergence of blacks in the squad, the French team was ful of Italians and Spaniards who had crossed the border. Soccer has long been an immigrant's game in France.

Coach Chris said...

My daughter noticed the same thing within WPS a few weeks back when we attended the Washington Freedom game.

It encouraged me to write about the topic as well.

Anonymous said...

OT: In which countries is soccer not the most popular sport?

I was surprised that China or Russia did not qualify for the World Cup. I guess they prefer programming competitions.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to change a thing about soccer to suit American tastes.

Anyone remember the Indoor Soccer League?

Anonymous said...

American Football is like a crude style of semi-choreographed wrestling. The ball is simply a device to set the wrestling in motion.I say "crude" because the wrestling is not very sophisticated. It is unlikely that nay NFL lineman would last long against anyone highly skilled in Judo or MMA.

The low status of the kickers proves that at heart it is a form of wrestling.

Glossy said...

"OT: In which countries is soccer not the most popular sport?

Finland
Russia maybe?"

I don't know about Finland, but in Russia soccer is #1 and hockey is #2 in popularity, though obviously not in terms of the success achieved by the national team. There's less international competition in hockey, so it's easier to do well in it.

Isn't baseball more popualar in Japan than soccer? This may also be true in South Korea.

Anonymous said...

>>Soccer depends much more on skill and technique
>>than on raw athleticism.

>Except of course, as Steve has pointed out before, >Soccer is inherently pretty clumsy and random. It >would be hard to think up a game worse for >displaying skill and technique.

It's true that the outcome of a match has a high stochastic component. But you can easily tell how skilled an individual player is by watching. Those skills are developed through years of training and coaching.

Felix said...

The only unbearable thing here is white American males' fascination with black men. It seems that American sport fans are unwilling to bless a sport unless they see black men enjoying complete dominance in it. And to think that these same folks consider my Asian girl fetish to be unhealthy!

Incidentally, football isn't merely the most popular sport in Africa with its 500+ million blacks, it's the only sport. It's also the most popular sport in South America and Asia. But hey, I know the feeling guys. Some things are just deal breakers for different people.If you guys need a bunch of black dudes facing a different bunch of black dudes to get your juices flowing, I guess I can't blame you. I'm the same way in that I need Asian girls or I'm unhappy. I guess the only difference between the two fetishes is that mine is not homo-erotic. lol.

Anonymous said...

as Steve has pointed out before, >Soccer is inherently pretty clumsy and random. It >would be hard to think up a game worse for >displaying skill and technique.




If that were true, then we would expect that the supposedly "skilled" teams would tend to lose a significant percentage of their games to the supposedly "less skilled" ones.

But they don't.

There is considerable skill and technique involved in soccer. It's not skill and technique which is obvious to the typical American sports fan, any more than the typical European sports fan can identify the skill involved in American football. To them, that's just a bunch of big fat guys in helmets banging into each other.

ironrailsironweights said...

Anyone who believes that middle class whites will watch soccer in the future needs to remember that no one watches high school or college soccer whereas 75,000 plus fill college stadiums to watch football.
Soccer has the problem that it as disconnected from schools as soccer in Europe.


A sport can have mass appeal on the professional level without being a big deal in colleges. Major League Baseball is extremely popular yet college baseball is a nonrevenue sport. Golf, same thing. NASCAR draws millions of spectators and TV viewers and doesn't even exist on the college level.

Peter

Anonymous said...

there are more whites in european club soccer due partly to european racism. you can occasionally hear racial catcalls from nosebleed seats near the microphones on the audiotrack of some eufa.com games and I think the transfer values are lower for black players, other things being the same. In Spain, it really isn't sporting to play more than 1 black player, or perhaps two light skinned black players. Spain dropped Marcos Senna from the worldcup squad--one of the world's top 5 defensive midfielders--for ethno-race reasons, and Real Madrid currently fields a fairly good looking Sons of Iberia type of squad, having shucked off darkskinned superstars like Samuel Eto'o (starting forward on, now, 3 champions league winners in the last 5 years) and Claude Makelele (defensive midfield on the Vicente del Bosque teams that last won the Champions League for Madrid 10 years ago) over the years. Senna had been included in the Euro 2008 winning team, but only by a coach who became a news item for shouting at his white player not to be beaten by the black opposing player. true, spain is probably more racist than other countries. France is the least, as Ligue 1 clubs are often stocked with French speaking Africans. This is probably mostly because the French teams don't have the budget to assemble high quality white players, but also reflects a more Afro-friendly attitude. I think in Spain it is basically chauvenism from above, and in the other countries it is mostly that the paying fans are more racist than are American fans. Proximity to Africa probably also motivates some tacit black player quotas.

There is an element of discipline that is important to avoiding that single crucial mistake over 90 minutes that blacks sometimes don't bring to the table, which is another piece of the puzzle. Notably, the only African sides to make any real progress at the worldcup are the ones organized into strict defensive schemes (Ghana-2010 and Senegal-2002) to compensate, although the teams have often seemed to have enough athleticism to be more competitive.

Both factors were represented in Jose Mourinho's dramatic win at Barcelona, the highlight of the european soccer season. Inter played the game in all-white strip mimicking Real Madrid to taunt Barcelona, adhering to the "1 black rule" by playing only Samuel Eto'o on the wing with 10 white players. Mourinho held off substituting in Mariga McDonald and Sulley Muntari, two blacks, until late in the game, as Inter dug in defensively playing a man down. This appeared to be tactically justified but also reflected the winning with whites approach esteemed in Spain. Muntari then nearly lost the semifinal for Inter by making two mental mistakes, gifting Barcelona one goal by coming close to keeping Girard Pique onside on Pique's goal (one error that counted), and seeming to foul Daniel Alves just inside the penalty area (one that didn't).

You wouldn't want to overstate it, but Americans seem to be lustily entertainted by black athletes where that isn't so much the attitude in Europe.

Bruce Banned said...

Samuel Etoó plays for Cameroon and Makelele plays for France: no need for chauvinism to explain why they don't play for Spain. They can't qualify for the team.

The Brazilian Senna wasn't dropped for "ethno-racial" reasons, but because of his old age (for a soccer player). And yes, he was forced on the previous coach (Luis Aragones) who was rumoured to be not enough enthusiastic about multiculturalism and the New World Order.

But if you ask me, Japan, both Koreas, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are sorely in need of some diversity.

Anonymous said...

it is one of the many tradeoffs in soccer that adds subtle interest to the sport, explosive athleticism which is necessary to separate from defenders in attack (either to create passing openings or to be able to shoot) and close down attackers in defense, and stamina to run for 90 minutes. this is essentially the contest between ghana, heavier bodied west africans, and the U.S., lighter bodied high stamina players who find openings to score in the later stages of the game, although the ghana players lack the "cutting edge" of some of the better black players in the european game.

Anonymous said...

Iron, that's because the Lords of Baseball, unlike their counterparts in football and basketball, pay for their own minor leagues instead of letting the colleges foot the bill. Some years more high school kids are drafted in the first round than college players. Most college baseball players are not the top tier, Steve Strasburg notwithstanding, and the ratings of the College World Series bear that out.

I've probably watched more of the World Cup this year than I expected to, hoping to catch a glimpse of what makes it so popular. I disagree with those saying there's no juice; to me it's EXACTLY like baseball, with much time given to ennui and "tactics" enlivened by a few seconds of true excitement and expositon of skill. I find a 2-1 baseball game tremendously riveting, much more so than a 10-8 slugfest, and I'm sure soccer fans say the feel the same way about a 1-0, excuse me, 1-nil match. And lets not underappreciate what the good Brit announcers bring to the soccer broadcasts. It's refreshing to hear them castigate the players for not having a clue on the pitch, as opposed the shameless, mindless shills doing the announcing in American sports, especially the NFL.

Albertosaurus, I never read North Dallas Forty, but it cribs from Dan Jenkins' Semi Tough. I paraphrase from memory: "If you have 10 spooks, you might make the playoffs, and with 15 you may make the Super Bowl, but more than that and you won't be able to beat Buffalo!" Remember that it was written in the 60s, so those numbers don't translate well to the modern game. And I see nothing from the Africans in this World Cup proving that soccer is any different.

Brutus

Anonymous said...

Bruce Banned,

A better argument on Senna is that Spain are playing with two long-legged holding midfielders (Busquets and Alonzo) borrowing some of the 6-defender (4+2 holding midfielder) elements of "modern catenaccio" (i.e. 4 long-legged players including the two central defenders, playing reactively rather than pressing the ball). Spain are now in 4-2-1-3 with Villa moved to more of a wing position, whereas in the Euros they played a possession-style 4-4-2 (with Villa in a freer role, Iniesta and Silva playing as 4-4-2 wings rather than 4-3-3 wings, and Xavi and Senna in the proper midfield)--5 shifty change of direction players in the midfield, including Villa at times. In the current system, you could argue that Busquets is more prototypical than Senna, who is a little bit shorter. However, I don't think Senna's age is a big deal. The best indicator of waning prowess is a change in FS/FC, fouls suffered to fouls committed. Senna was 76 suffered to 44 committed in the Spanish league, which is an absolutely outstanding ratio for a defensive midfielder, proving his athleticism is still intact. If you watch games, you will see that fouls are usually given when one players athleticism exceeds his marker's (Christiano Ronaldo typically has a guady ratio, and you can tell if Ronaldinho is giving his all or not based on his fouls figures--excellent this year as he tried to prove his worth to Dunga). A player like (Italian defensive mid) Gennaro Gattuso, who is indeed past his prime, went 29 suffered vs. 51 committed, a terrible ratio that should have limited him at best to a "last man off the bench" type role. In his prime Gattuso was about even FS/FC and that was also true of Claude Makelele in his prime. Although an even number of committed and suffered fouls for most players would suggest average athleticism, for the holding midfield player-- who probably commits the most tactical fouls to slow counter strikes--an even number is generally good.

Although Busquets matches the "son of spain" profile, it was his mistake that resulted in Switzerland's goal in group stage game 1, and playing Busquets in preference to Yaya Toure at Inter Milan also doomed Barcelona in the champions league. Although Spain are out of the Group stage, you wonder if weak defensive players (Alonzo, Busquets, and Ramos) will eventually be opened up by the better teams Spain will face in the knockout rounds. It would be better for Spain to play, lacking Senna, Fabregas in preference to Busquets in more of a straight 4-3-3 with Alonzo in the holding role and Xavi and Fabregas ahead. Spain has made one important change to basically add Torres and subtract Silva which will help them though. But you wonder if the ethno-race issue will do them in in the end.

PS If you look back at 60s photos of the pre-beard Wilt, you can see why women might have melted immediately under his 7-foot aura, potentially allowing him to get thousands of women he claimed, but you wonder about players like Messi (5'3" maybe) and Xavi (5'5" maybe). 30 mistresses, no more.

ben tillman said...

texas first! said...

As much as I would love to appreciate all the wonderful skill on display, I can't get past the unsportsmanlike and effeminate "flopping". Has it always been a part of the game?

San Antonio is in Texas, and Ginobili is in San Antonio. Maybe you can take care of that before worrying about soccer.

ben tillman said...

And MLB juiced the ball and turned a blind eye to steroids in order to get more home runs.

I just don't get why you think any of this nonsense reflects well on American so-called "sports fans". They're not sports fans. By and large they're bored dopes who want to be entertained, and who lack the sporting knowledge to be entertained by the subtle skills of any sport. They need razz-ma-tazz, they need firewords, they need reverse dunks, they need a guy being dropped head-first onto the turf, they need something to happen that lets even them see that something is going on. Because actual sport would bore them to tears.


Great comment.

Anonymous said...

As a naturalized Brazilian, it was always playing with fire to join the Spanish squad, but you do feel something for Senna, who played a central role in Spain's only major international championship, but was then rejected out of the group on ethno-racial grounds.

Senna had an august on-field presence and unquestioned discipline in the holding midfield role. Teams often choose tall holding players, but the truth is that the 5'10" or 5'9" players who mark up faster and contribute more in possession are the more valuable. Senna has also been very loyal to his club team, Villareal, and appropriately made no public comments about his omission from the world cup squad.

One principle of soccer is that 1 player makes a big difference (the right or wrong player chosen, the same player playing hard or not, etc.). I think the tendency is to be overly deferential to the coaching brass, who often make poor tactical or personnel judgments (men who gave their lives to soccer, after all!).

The US team has benefited because the coach has exercised very good judgment, preferring talented or in-form players regardless of reputation or pedigree and substituting thoughtfully according to game circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I assume soccer moms hate football for the same reasons they hate Toby Keith.

I personally don't hate soccer, I just can see through it's American fans. They want to live in a world where their effete values are appreciated, that is, Europe. I don't have a problem with that either, I just wish they'd be honest about it.

Anonymous said...

"Is the End of the World ; When England and Algeria played, I saw more whites in the African team than in the European..."

LOL, I saw this too. I'm also glad France was humiliated... who would root for an almost all-black France team? It's a joke. They might as well be playing for the Moon as pretend to represent "

I don't consider Algerians white. You can tell they are different than Europeans. England should have 7 whites , mulattoes and 1 black starting against Germany, who will have 2 turks and maybe a mixed.

Anonymous said...

"Soccer depends much more on skill and technique than on raw athleticism.

Except of course, as Steve has pointed out before, Soccer is inherently pretty clumsy and random. It would be hard to think up a game worse for displaying skill and technique."

It's not true that it is random. If it were you would have vast swings in who wins the leagues every year in Europe and the same teams seem to dominate. Man Unted, Chelsea, REal Madrid, Barcelona etc.

Anonymous said...

"although the ghana players lack the "cutting edge" of some of the better black players in the european game"

18 of the 23 players on Ghana play in Europe and the best, Essien, is injured.

Anonymous said...

Only in America could a team composed solely of blacks be considered "diverse".

I think that liberalspeak applies everywhere. Thus an English soccer team composed of eleven clones of the same black player would still be considered "diverse".

ben tillman said...

And lets not underappreciate what the good Brit announcers bring to the soccer broadcasts. It's refreshing to hear them castigate the players for not having a clue on the pitch

"He certainly made a hash of that!"

Anonymous said...

In South Africa, too soccer seems to be regarded as a the black sport (rugby on the other hand is supposed to be a white sport).

I believe that might apply in France too.

Ive got a gut feeling that there is a bit of drift towards rugby and away from football in the UK as well. Like I say, just a feeling.

Anonymous said...

And Wayne Rooney? He is as Irish as Pat O'Brien getting drunk on St. Paddy's Day and banging Maureen O'Hara.

Lol, brilliant! Did you make that up josh?

Anonymous said...

I think that is probably a combination of better climate than in the Northern European countries and the fact that Southern Euros are probably more explosive on average than their Northern cousins.

Im thinking climate might be a big part of it.

Over the years many Italians have settled in the UK but Im not aware of their descendants making much of a mark on the football scene. Seems like boys with Italian genes assimilate to the British norm when it comes to footie.

Anonymous said...

Is Maradona really mestizo? I tried to find a supporting reference on the Google. To me he looks like a lot of Spanish men who come from Extremadura in the west of Spain where the conquistadors came from.

Anonymous said...

I am bit surprised by all the comments on the ongoing WC. And most of them have to do with the African presence at the WC and their representation in the top leagues in Europe.

The empirical facts are that blacks from Africa and elsewhere are well-represented in the top European teams. Players like Etoo--he was robbed twice of the Golden Boot award--in Spain, and Drogba of Chelsea have been more productive than any other player in goal scoring.

In fact, in the very robust English Premier league blacks are the majority in the top 10 goal scorers.

The African teams have suffered from not having coaches that have been with the team for long and not having local professional leagues.

Felix, the population of Africa is now 1 billion plus.

Anonymous said...

Steve - US Soccer has already tried to do something along the lines of what you are thinking. Both Eddie Johnson and Marvell Wynne are world class athletes who came to soccer later in life (not having played as kids). The experiment has been pretty much a failure. Neither player has any sense of positioning or any skill on the ball whatsoever.

England has also tried something similar with Theo Walcott, who isn't as physical as Johnson or Wynne but is very fast. He came to soccer as a teenager (13 or 14 I think). He suffers from some of the same problems as Wynne and Johnson - not being able to read the game and poor ball skills (though he's better than those two).

asdfasdfasdfasf said...

This is what I call a soccer game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW-g3y2NfFo

AmericanGoy said...

"I just have trouble imagining Stallone delivering a soliloquy."

YO ADRIAAAAAN!

P Coderch said...

I find it hilarious that Sailer wants to "fix" soccer to make it better. This despite the fact that four BILLION people are watching the World Cup on T.V, or 20 times more people than watch the American Superbowl. Hey, Steve, why don't you fix your American sports to make them better for us, the rest of the World? Why do you think that a sport that is watched by 20 times more pople than your favorite American sport needs fixing but the favorite American sport doesen't? What kind of stupid logic is this? Speaking on behalf of the rest of the World, we find a sport with interruptions every two to three minutes B-O-R-I-N-G. We find games with lots of scoring, like basketball, boring compared to a sport where scoring is very hard to achieve and rare and thus far more of an accomplishment and far more exciting when it does happen. You need to be a pretty primary individual to judge the excitement of a sport based on the amount of points/goal that happen during the game. This is like saying that chess is a boring game because the checkmate only happens once in the game. Only because you Americans are incapable of undertanding the beauty of soccer, it doesen't follow that there is something wrong with it. And please stop worshipping blacks and their "great" athletic ability. Having a light frame and a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers doesen't make you a better athlete. It makes you a better athlete at sports that require explosiveness and agility. And just because you Americans prefer these sports, it doesen't mean that the rest of the World prefers them also. Soccer does not require explosiveness and agility; it requires endurance and agility and the World likes it just fine. Why should 96% of the Human Species change it's favorite sport to adjust it to the taste of the bizare 4% that is unable to appreciate it's beauty?

Bruce Banned said...

[Senna]was then rejected out of the group on ethno-racial grounds.
Hey, isn't htat the whole point of having national teams? (As against Soccer clubs?)

Is Maradona really mestizo?
Yes, he's half-Guarani. About 50 % of Argentines are mestizos, most of them on the lighter side of the pigmentation spectrum.

adsfasdfasf said...

"I find it hilarious that Sailer wants to "fix" soccer to make it better. This despite the fact that four BILLION people are watching the World Cup on T.V, or 20 times more people than watch the American Superbowl."

???? Did we read the same article?

Fred said...

"But if you ask me, Japan, both Koreas, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are sorely in need of some diversity."

Apparently not so much Ghana, as it has advanced past us to the final 8, despite having all West African players.

Also, according to HBD, shouldn't the best team in Africa be an East African one because of the endurance and all?

"About 50 % of Argentines are mestizos"

Where are you getting this from? Argentina is about the whitest country in South America (with the possible exception of Uruguay).

Truth said...

"Is Maradona really mestizo?"

Oh...my...fucking...god.

What about Ray Lewis, is he really black?

SGOTI said...

Our long national nightmare is over! Thank you, Ghana.

Bruce Banned said...

"About 50 % of Argentines are mestizos"

Where are you getting this from? Argentina is about the whitest country in South America (with the possible exception of Uruguay).


50 % mestizos, 5 % Amerindians and others and 45 % White still makes Argentina the whitest country in South America. Hell, the USA is probably barely 55 % White as we speak.

adfasdfadsfs said...

"About 50 % of Argentines are mestizos"

But not all mestizos are alike, just like not all alcoholic beverages are alike.

In some Latin American countries, an average mestizo could be 80% white. In Mexico, an average mestizo is probably like 70% Indian.

FelixM said...

but did you see Brazil v Holland?

it proved the importance of discipline and of courage in the face of adversity

what some Anglos might call true British grit ...