Like Satan, Sodomy and Socialism, Soccer begins with an S. Obviously, then, it's un-American and likely to corrupt these great United States. Hats off to Marc Thiessen for scrawling the most absurd anti-soccer nonsense of the World Cup. At long last we have a winner:
The world is crazy for soccer, but most Americans don’t give a hoot about the sport. Why? Many years ago, my former White House colleague Bill McGurn pointed out to me the real reason soccer hasn’t caught on in the good old U.S.A. It’s simple, really: Soccer is a socialist sport.
Think about it. Soccer is the only sport in the world where you cannot use the one tool that distinguishes man from beast: opposable thumbs. “No hands” is a rule only a European statist could love. (In fact, with the web of high taxes and regulations that tie the hands of European entrepreneurs, “no hands” kind of describes their economic theories as well.)
Soccer is also the only sport in the world that has “hooligans”—proletarian mobs that trash private property whenever their team loses.
Soccer is collectivist. At this year’s World Cup, the French national team actually went on strike in the middle of the tournament on the eve of an elimination match. (Yes, capitalist sports have experienced labor disputes, but can you imagine a Major League Baseball team going on strike in the middle of the World Series?)
At the youth level, soccer teams don’t even keep score and everyone gets a participation trophy. Can you say, “From each according to his ability…”? (The fact that they do keep score later on is the only thing that prevents soccer from being a Communist sport.)
Capitalist sports are exciting—people often hit each other, sometimes even score. Soccer fans are excited by an egalitarian 0-0 tie. When soccer powerhouses Brazil and Portugal met recently at the World Cup, they played for 90 minutes—and combined got just eight shots on net (and zero goals). Contrast this with the most exciting sports moment last week, which came not at the World Cup, but at Wimbledon, when American John Isner won in a fifth-set victory that went 70-68. Yes, even tennis is more exciting than soccer. Like an overcast day in East Berlin, soccer is … boring.
And finally, have you seen the World Cup trophy? It looks like an Emmy Award (and everyone knows that Hollywood is socialist).
There are many more reasons soccer and socialism go hand in hand. You can read some of them here. Perhaps in the age of President Obama, soccer will finally catch on in America. But I suspect that socializing Americans’ taste in sports may be a tougher task than socializing our healthcare system.
This, dear reader, is meant to droll (I think). Nevertheless, the level of ignorance on display is close to mind-boggling. Next thing you know Thiessen will be claiming that water-boarding doesn't count as torture. Oh, hang on...
There's little need, I think, to rebut much of this save to say that in their generous welfare provisions for the weak and the useless, the NFL, MLB and the NBA come vastly closer to Thiessen's definition of "socialism" than anything in the soccer universe.
Bill Shankly's oft-quoted line that "The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life" is famous but also somewhat daft since it applies to any collective endeavour and, thus, pretty much any team sport. Still, it achieves a level of insight and subtlety some way beyond anything the likes of Thiessen can muster.
Then again, who'd want to be on Marc Thiessen's team anyway?