Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism

By Andrei S. Markovits; Steven L. Hellerman | Go to book overview

Appendix B
A Sample of Opinion from American Sports
Columnists and Journalists regarding the
1994 World Cup

THE FOLLOWING is but a brief sample of some of the ruminations and statements by America's journalists regarding the World Cup.


Sampling the “Soccer-Friendlies”

The most pronounced of the soccer-friendly newspaper writers expressed their thrill in having the World Cup in the United States and their hopes (though usually qualified with a strong dose of reality) for a World Cup that would capture the hearts and minds of the American public while establishing soccer as a fifth major professional team sport in the United States. This included writers both in and out of the sports sections who likely qualify as part of America's “soccer constituency.” Some of their pieces, particularly during the buildup and first round, dealt specifically with what made the sport so attractive and exciting on a personal level; narratives describing how the writer became “hooked on soccer” were almost always included. Though unabashedly hopeful, most were skeptical or noncommittal regarding the establishment of a pro soccer league in the United States. As these pieces were usually not written by sportswriters and as they tended to focus on personal soccer experiences, we have not included them in our survey of sports columnists and feature opinion editorials relating to the World Cup.

Most columnists recognized the significance and entertainment value of the tournament as separate from the issues regarding soccer's potential for success in the United States. Many of these writers stated, both implicitly and explicitly, that one need not be a lifelong soccer fan to enjoy the World Cup, and that soccer's marginal status in the United States was not an issue in doing so. Some criticized those so zealous and evangelical in their “pro soccer” rhetoric that they alienated many American sports fans. Some also bemoaned the tendency of the media and others who had a stake in promoting soccer in the United States to infer larger meanings to an event that could and should simply be enjoyed for itself. The general

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