I must be getting close to the four-year anniversary of when I began this blog--I can remember that some of my early posts involved World Cup, watching the games on Univision since that was the only channel I could get with rabbit-ears that was showing the games live. Four years later, I still have the same TV set (9 years old, I guess--it was a wedding gift, so it's easy to remember when we got it...), the same rabbit ears, though a converter box is hooked up between the two. And I still have my blog...
Slate has an article up today on the secret history of soccer, about how soccer in the roaring 20s was actually very popular and growing in some parts of the US, with teams like the Brooklyn Wanderers, the Patterson Silk Sox, the New Bedford Whalers. Had events fallen differently, had childish infighting not plagued some of the owners and the like, perhaps it might have ended up rivaling the then nascent professional football and basketball leagues.
But then, as Dave Eggers points out in the excerpt (also on Slate) from his book The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, [EDIT: actually, it's an excerpt from that book, and it's by Eggers, but the book as a whole is a bunch of essays from many writers] would we soccer fans really want the sport to be that popular?:
If you were soccer, the sport of kings, would you want the adulation of a people who elected Bush and Cheney, not once but twice?OK, maybe not... But it is interesting the very different connotation being a soccer fan in the US has vs. being a football fan in, say, the UK. The impression I get, anyway, is that football fans in the UK often end up with a similar stereotype to that of North American football fans here (a bit dense, dumb jock/fratboy/cheap beer mindset,etc.--not that I think US football fans really are all that way, as I sometimes enjoy the sport as well, but that's the stereotype that gets perpetuated on TV), whereas here being a soccer fan is usually associated with a more artsy and cultured, a sport, as Eggers' book implies, for thinking fans. More likely to enjoy a good microbrew or an expensive single-malt during the game, not a Bud Light. If soccer had enjoyed growing popularity through the Depression and ever since, I imagine that stereotype would be very different.