The big kickball tournament, soccer's World Cup, starts tomorrow! And this year, we have conservative bloggers to interpret its obvious politics for us. Is it "okay" to enjoy watching soccer while being a Real American? For God's sake, no!
Let's see what conservative Matthew Philbin of the Media Research Center's funny Newsbusters blog has to say about the left-right politics of soccer, a very combative politics that clearly exist. Philbin frames his lengthy, abysmal article by noting that elite media figures keep telling us to watch the World Cup, because soccer is the world's game and we need to appreciate other cultures! This can certainly be annoying, whenever media elites say, well, anything. But Philbin sees some deep-seated socialist, pro-illegal-immigration motives in their vapid throwaway comments:
The liberal media have always been uncomfortable with "American exceptionalism" - the belief that the United States is unique among nations, a leader and a force for good. And they are no happier with America's rejection of soccer than with its rejection of socialism.
Hence Americans are "xenophobic," "isolated" and lacking in understanding for other nations and their passion for "the planetary pastime," as Time magazine put it. But, they are confident, as America becomes more Hispanic, the nation will have to give in and adopt the immigrants' game. [...]
As healthcare reform and stimulus spending have underscored, if Europe jumped off a cliff, the American left would be right behind it. So it makes sense that the media's main argument for accepting soccer is that "everybody's doing it."
Again, you kick the ball with your foot many times and rack up tallies of goals and the team with the most goals wins. This is even more socialist than health care reform or emergency boosts to aggregate demand.
Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute took a slightly different conservative political approach to the soccer quandary, in an article last year. He sees its anti-American roots in the fact that with such rare scoring opportunities, the worse team frequently gets lucky a couple of times per game and wins. This is not fair. And if there's one thing we care about in America, it's fairness.
For sure, there may be a number of reasons that is the case but my suspicion is that the so-called "beautiful game" is not so beautiful to American sensibilities. We like, as good small "d" democrats, our underdogs for sure but we also still expect folks in the end to get their just desert. And, in sports, that means excellence should prevail. Of course, the fact that is often not the case when it comes to soccer may be precisely the reason the sport is so popular in the countries of Latin America and Europe.
So remember, American readers, that when you're flipping the channel to any World Cup soccer games in the next month, you're really just spitting on George Washington.
[Image via AP]