Football, a sport steeped in working class history, has now regrettably fallen into the soft, pasty hands of the well-bred citizens of New York. According to a piece published in the New York Times last week, soccer has amassed a following of literary types who find the game "a public display of global cultural literacy."
The article, which comes conveniently and horrifyingly before the month-long World Cup this summer in Rio (perhaps preparing us for what is to come) is full of juicy lines on how white bookish types consider soccer to be the new highbrow pastime. Forget baseball—that shit is for chumps with no n+1 subscriptions or post-graduate degrees.
The article declares of the rise of the Premier League in New York:
This is particularly evident in New York creative circles, where the game's aesthetics, Europhilic allure and fashionable otherness have made soccer the new baseball — the go-to sport of the thinking class.
The New Yorker, The New Republic, GQ, and HarperCollins all have employees who espouse diehard Premier League fandom, and a handful of bars have popped up in the city to cultivate even more footie obsessions. As author Sean Wilsey puts it,
"It's almost guaranteed that almost any male literary person under the age of 45 is going to be somewhat versed in soccer . . . Isn't it sort of a relief to talk about the English Premier League instead of the sad state of publishing? . . . It's a great default topic."
The fanaticism runs deep. So deep, in fact, that all one needs is a study abroad experience in Western Europe to really understand.
For on-trend types with an internationalist bent, supporting (never rooting for) a Premier League club (never team) is not just a pleasant diversion, but a public display of global cultural literacy.
Bryan Lee, a fan interviewed at Williamsburg's Banter, was particularly informed on his favorite club's history.
"You buy into the history and the tradition, the values of the club," said Bryan Lee, a digital brand strategist who grew up in Southern California and lives in Greenpoint. He showed up in a vintage gray Liverpool away jersey. "Historically, Liverpool has been a blue-collar port city," added Mr. Lee, 24, as thoughtful as if he were delivering his orals at graduate school. "The politics of Liverpool was really sort of anti-Thatcher. It's become the people's club. Those hardworking blue-collar values never really left, even though it's been ushered into the modern era of the club being a global franchise."
A happy World Cup to us all.