The World Cup

Who's Dumber: Glenn Beck or Terry Eagleton?
June 16, 2010

Sometimes it's tough to know who's dumber: Glenn Beck or Terry Eagleton. My money, for what it's worth, is on the latter. Via Norm Geras comes news of perhaps the dumbest thing written about the World Cup this year. Step forward Professor Eagleton in - where else? - The Guardian: If the Cameron government is bad news for those seeking radical change, the World Cup is even worse. It reminds us of what is still likely to hold back such change long after the coalition is dead.

Fair Play
June 16, 2010

If you tell a sad, woeful story in Peru, hoping to elicit sympathy, someone might just respond with the phrase, “Bueno pues, así es el fútbol.” Meaning: that’s how soccer is; soccer, in this context, standing in for life. Soccer isn’t fair. Neither is life. Stop whining. To understand winning and losing in soccer one must set aside the concept of fairness. The side that plays beautifully might be justifiably proud of its collective aesthetic achievement; but if they don’t score, they’re not likely to win many tournaments.

Soccer Triumphalism Turns Ugly
June 15, 2010

I've been a long-time, tongue-in-cheek participant in the regular soccer Kulturkampf. But there seem to be a lot of people who take this issue deadly serious, and it's a little frightening. Max Bergmann at the Center for American Progress rounds up some of the unhinged conservative rhetoric about soccer. So let me say that, as a confirmed non-soccer fan, the prospect that America will one day become a soccer-loving nation does not strike me as dangerous in any way.

A Critique of the Right’s War on Soccer
June 15, 2010

Howard Wolfson asks whether soccer has arrived in America? Good entry, but my question is who is Matt Drudge? This might make me look stupid (not that difficult), but I don’t know who he is. I’ve come across his name before, I assume he’s new media, and I’m an old person. But that’s neither here nor there.  So forgive me for the upcoming mini-rant, Howard. It is not directed at you by any means. I’m just tired of the question.  Has soccer arrived? I’ve always wondered why that question is asked. Has soccer ever not been in America for it to arrive? I’m not being facetious.

The Healer
June 15, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA—It was as clear as the film’s most famous scene: The work of reconciliation in South Africa is not done yet. In February 2008, a video appeared online showing four white students from South Africa’s University of the Free State (UFS) hazing their black janitors as if they were new freshmen. There’s a beer-drinking contest, a footrace to “Chariots of Fire.” Near the end, the boys appear to pee into bowls of stew and urge the janitors to eat up. It was supposed to be an in-house joke, a protest against a plan to integrate their dorm, a student residence called Reitz.

The Healer
June 15, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA—It was as clear as the film’s most famous scene: The work of reconciliation in South Africa is not done yet. In February 2008, a video appeared online showing four white students from South Africa’s University of the Free State (UFS) hazing their black janitors as if they were new freshmen. There’s a beer-drinking contest, a footrace to “Chariots of Fire.” Near the end, the boys appear to pee into bowls of stew and urge the janitors to eat up. It was supposed to be an in-house joke, a protest against a plan to integrate their dorm, a student residence called Reitz.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
and
June 14, 2010

Israel's separation wall turned into giant TV screen The economics of the World Cup Meet America's Jewish players Can Dunga fine-tune Brazil's imperfections in time? Tim Vickery: How North Korea can stop Brazil The triumphant return of Special1 TV Why Holland had trouble breaking down Denmark's defense An anthology of English goalkeeping howlers

Homage to Paraguay
June 14, 2010

One of the great things in watching the World Cup is a chance to appreciate a team like Paraguay. From a fan point of view, they're not all that fun to watch, for obvious reason--defensive gritiness, absence of big names, no spectacular plays, mind-numbing discipline. If it wasn't the obvious limits of the team's abilities, you could call them poor people's Germans. No one outside Paraguay rushes home to watch them, but it's hard not to admire the commitment and hard work and the fact they always make it hard for the other team to beat them.

Yanks to Go All The Way
June 14, 2010

As promised in a previous blog entry, I vowed not to lay eyes upon England-USA owing to split loyalties, hearts and bones, all that. Many of my dearest confidantes (I mean you, David Hirshey), ignored my ponderings and asked me where I'd be watching the game. The answer is, even though I'm a Mets fan, I watched the Yankees-Astros game at 1.05pm on Saturday last at a watering hole called Canal Bar, in the Gowanus Plains section of Brooklyn. I moved to Gowanus a year ago, after my Long Island City apartment had been ransacked of its contents by a pair of thieves. Perhaps it was the manner of the

Can the Hermit Kingdom Play Another Game of their Lives?
and
June 14, 2010

Apart from the fact that they are extreme long shots to win tomorrow’s match against Brazil—and their unfortunate mistake in listing their striker, Kim Myong-Won, as a goalkeeper—the North Korean side remains shrouded in mystery. Placed at 105 in the global rankings by FIFA, only a handful of the country’s players have experience playing abroad.

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