Friday, July 02, 2010


Dumbest World Cup Article Ever

In a previous life, Marc Thiessen and I were casual friends in the world of DC politics.  While we never worked together, he hosted a few conservative gatherings which I was fortunate to attend -- including an annual black tie event.  Anyway, he has gone on to bigger and better things -- speechwriter for Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, an author, Washington Post columnist and AEI fellow.  In these latter careers, he's made a few controversial statements -- including on the nature of torture (he disagrees that waterboarding counts).

Anyway, he decided to weigh in on the World Cup  (waiting, it seems, until after the U.S. had been eliminated) and proclaim that soccer is a socialist sport -- explaining why it's never taken hold in America. This is one of the silliest arguments I've seen in some time.  

Marc's examples of the socialist proclivities of soccer are rather dubious:
Soccer is also the only sport in the world that has “hooligans”—proletarian mobs that trash private property whenever their team loses.
Right. And the US is a has cities where "proletarian mobs...trash private property whenever their team" -- wins (see Detroit, Los Angeles and College Park, MD)!!
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?)
The French team going "on strike" has more to do with the French -- and its pampered, bratty, team -- than it has to do with soccer itself.  As for examples of similar behavior among American athletes -- see Manny Ramirez quitting on the Red Sox two years ago.  Need a team example? Anyone wonder why the NBA has the "lottery" ball instead of a traditional "worst team drafts first" as nearly all other sports do?  Because, in the '80s, it became obvious that, at the end of the season, NBA teams were tanking their last games to insure that they ended up with worst record!  

But, more significant is Thiessen's parenthetical aside, "Yes, capitalist sports have experienced labor disputes..."  Understatement, anyone?!!? In the last fifteen years, two North American professional sports teams lost their post-seasons to labor strife (Major League Baseball in 1994; hockey in 2006).  The only time the World Cup has been cancelled since the first one in 1930 was because of World War II.  

And, let's not get started on the collectivist economics of US sports -- salary caps, luxury taxes (MLB), shared TV revenue (NFL), etc. 

UPDATE:  Congratulations, Flying Dutchmen!! 


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