Friday, June 27, 2014

Trying to understand the futbol thing

P__ reports that her federal agency employees took the day off yesterday to watch the US lose at soccer.

I am intrigued by the educated urbanite reaction to the World Cup.  It may be that this many people simply enjoy watching soccer.  I propose it is something slightly different.

Taking the day off to watch a World Cup game is a signal of one's being smart, urban, and worldly.  It is akin to conspicuous shopping at Whole Foods, carrying yoga mats, driving a Car2Go car-share smart car, and scoffing at Justice Thomas without actually first reading his opinions.

The closest analogy that comes to mind is the Alabama -- or Auburn -- partisan, who  (I believe) gains substantially less from watching an American football game, which is little more than a forum to consume bad beer and Doritos, than he/she does from signalling membership in a group. 

No offense to the true fans among us.  I know you exist.  I just don't think you number nearly enough to shut down business in the capital of the free world.


  1. As a lifelong soccer player and fan -- one serious enough to have participated in a Fantasy Soccer (English Premier League) competition for a few years -- I'm somewhat bemused by the reaction. I certainly agree that the majority of people obsessing over the World Cup won't watch another game until the next one, and indeed probably will stop watching this one once USA! USA! is eliminated.

    On the other hand, it's certainly true that interest in the sport is growing. Ten years ago, the only way to see live European Soccer was to get a satellite dish and subscribe to an obscure service (Setanta). There were a couple of bars in DC that subscribed to the service, so that was an option.

    Nowadays, I think all of the EPL matches are shown live on NBC or an affiliate. That's quite a change, and one that makes life much easier and cheaper for me.

    As far as the World Cup goes, I admit to feeling a bit like a guy who's followed a local band for his whole life, only to find that they've become U2 for the summer. One feels a bit like a cliche.

    If there's an upside to it all, it's that some small number of people may begin following MLS and that sort of thing. One reason I've never been a DC United fan is that they play in RFK stadium, which is designed to hold 4x the crowds that DC United gets; it feels a bit post-apocalyptic during games. But now they're building a dedicated soccer stadium downtown, which will be better. I guess.


    1. Of course, they will be taxing my yoga workout to fund the new stadium . . .

    2. Shutting down a federal agency -- causing our federal government to do less for a few hours -- is a far cry from shutting down a productive business. To say that they govern best who govern least is an oversimplification, but it is not fundamentally wrong.