Offside : soccer and American exceptionalism


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Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism.

Warmly recommended to all those who want to understand and appreciate Highly recommended for both the general population and those interested in sports studies and sociology of sport. Choice This is the first adequate sociocultural history of the sport in the United States Sports sociologists will look to this book for soccer material and also for the author's fresh conceptualization of sports culture. Sociologists with more general interests in culture and institutional analysis might also find it useful and informative as a case study. Andrei S. Steven L. Hellerman is a sports journalist and a doctoral candidate at Claremont University's School of Politics and Economics.

Soccer is the world's favorite pastime, a passion for billions around the globe. In the United States, however, the sport is a distant also-ran behind football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism

Why is America an exception? And why, despite America's leading role in popular culture, does most of the world ignore American sports in return? In so doing, it offers a comparative analysis of sports cultures in the industrial societies of North America and Europe. The authors argue that when sports culture developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, nativism and nationalism were shaping a distinctly American self-image that clashed with the non-American sport of soccer.

Baseball and football crowded out the game. Then, poor leadership, among other factors, prevented soccer from competing with basketball and hockey as they grew.

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By the s, the United States was contentedly isolated from what was fast becoming an international obsession. The book compares soccer's American history to that of the major sports that did catch on. It covers recent developments, including the hoopla surrounding the soccer World Cup in America, the creation of yet another professional soccer league, and American women's global preeminence in the sport. It concludes by considering the impact of soccer's growing popularity as a recreation, and what the future of sports culture in the country might say about U.

Read more Read less. Baseball and football crowded out the game.


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Then poor leadership, among other factors, prevented soccer from competing with basketball and hockey as they grew. By the s, the United States was contentedly isolated from what was fast becoming an international obsession. The book compares soccer's American history to that of the major sports that did catch on.

It covers recent developments, including the hoopla surrounding the soccer World Cup in America, the creation of yet another professional soccer league, and American women's global preeminence in the sport. It concludes by considering the impact of soccer's growing popularity as a recreation, and what the future of sports culture in the country might say about U.

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They believe, for example, that the various ways in which the United States is exceptional -- that is, the ways in which it is different from other countries -- are all related, and they conclude bizarrely that America rejected socialism for the same reason it rejected soccer. America rejected socialism, they argue, because of the bourgeois nature of American society. But what that has to do with the rejection of soccer remains a mystery. According to Markovits and Hellerman, Americans' rejection of soccer is, to a lesser degree, also a result of ambivalent feelings about England during the 19th century.

Recall that during the War of , the British invaded Washington and burned the Capitol.


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  7. This seems more sensible. If our political system was superior to everyone else's, it was only natural for us to conclude that the sports we invented were superior as well. Happily, the authors treat both American sports and soccer with respect, but that means they mostly ignore the usual explanation given by Americans for our rejection of soccer -- that it's boring.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2002

    Soccer fans in America constantly hear this criticism -- that their sport is boring and that it is particularly boring because few goals are scored.

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