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The (American) Sports Writer War on Football in America

blanco becks The (American) Sports Writer War on Football in America

Authors Note:

Thanks for all the feedback. The conservative thing was based more on observing FOX News which immigrant baits and talks about soccer in very negative terms and my own interaction with conservatives, many of whom I work with and have had as clients about the hostility to Football (soccer) because it is a foreign sport and tends to be supported by immigrants more than the native American population. FOX News has twice this week gone out of their way to immigrant bait and fear monger by linking the US World Cup bid in 2018/22 to an invitation for terrorists to hit our shores because the implication is that football fans are foreign terrorists.

This all having been said many a liberal like Keith Olbermann who misrepresents facts all the time including many of the things he has said about George Bush (who unlike most liberal I don’t think was a terrible president. Reagan- now that’s a different story, he was the worst president of my lifetime) is as guilty of football hating than anyone.In fact some of the worst hatred of football comes from the elites in the Northeast: but that is nothing new: while I consider myself a liberal I want nothing to do with the New England/New York elites who live in their own cocoon about all things American.

The real problem is sports writers and sports editors regardless of their persuasion. Some of the above comments about the psychology of sports writers are dead on. For the most part they weren’t the best students in journalism school and are some of the least intellectually curious people around.

Football (Soccer) is foreign to them and they have a vested interest in protecting American sport. Most of them have not traveled abroad and if they have they have done their best to avoid exposure to football. (For example if you travel to London but do not visit the rest of England it is easy to avoid football. The same for Paris. If you travel to Newcastle you will be indoctrinated in the religion of the Toon, but how many American sportswriters vacation in Newcastle?)

The bottom line is this: sports writers and the sports media have done a lot of damage to the promotion of the sport in the United States. But barring a financial collapse of epic proportions that lead to a re-tribilization of the world, football is only going to get bigger and bigger in the US. The reality of the situation is the elites from the Northeast have done to the game what they have done to America: force their moral values down the throats of Americans: they talk about Lincoln as the Greatest President although for many he was the only American terrorist president. (Southernes exemplify the American ethos more than most from the Noertheast) They look down upon the south and west and also on football. Thus this piece has been revised to just focus on the sports writers and not the conservative who I realize love America and just simply exploit immigration and other fears for political purposes but are not trying to destory the game.

Beginning with the late Dick Young of the New York Post, sportswriters in the US, mostly conservative in their world view (even many of those liberal in their politics like Keith Olbermann, are notable football haters) have tried to take the course of least resistance with regards to covering sports: that means covering American sports whose leagues have no meaningful foreign competition and not developing an interest or passion for anything not distinctly American. When a political writer for the left leaning New Republic Franklin Foer wrote an insightful book entitled “How Soccer Explains the World,” ESPN’s Sal Palantonio had to respond by writing a book titled “How Football explains America.”

The hostility to David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco when they signed in MLS was shown by local sports writers in both the LA and Chicago markets. In both markets local writers trashed the newcomers as unwelcome foreigners looking to destroy the American sporting culture. Additionally editors of major daily papers often times kill any football related story even about local teams because it is deemed less than newsworthy. Again the standard for makes a paper is subjective and determined by those who either dislike football or simply are to ignorant to understand it.

Many sportswriters in the US are not only lacking intellectual curiosity about the outside world, but like their conservative brethren they will promote international events only when the United States is winning. Case in point: does anyone outside the US, or the handful of totalitarian regimes that exploit athletes for political purposes really believe the Olympics are a bigger sporting event than the FIFA World Cup? Are the Olympics  a bigger event than the regional Euro finals, or Copa America? Are they even bigger internationally than the UEFA Champions League finals.

Why is it that Olympic Football doesn’t get the attention in the United States that Olympic Swimming or Olympic Track and Field does? Is it because those sports are more popular than football in the states, given that almost 12 million people in the US watched the most recent US National Team World Cup qualifier, while the aforementioned sports never get that sort of viewership outside the Olympics? Clearly that is not the case. It is simple:  American success determines media coverage and the “worldwide importance” of an event.

Those Americans fortunate enough to travel throughout much of the world as I have been know that Football is the world sport, and nothing else comes close. I have been fortunate to be in India during two recent Super Bowls, neither of which were on television locally. Yet the nation on Super Bowl weekend features Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, SPL, Erevidese and Serie A on mainstream cable/satellite channels. College Basketball is also shown frequently in India, while (American) College Football is not.

In Europe, the Super Bowl is mostly an event which draws simple curiosity. The attempts of the National (American) Football League to empire build have fallen flat on their faces. NFL Europe has gone out of business, and the only contribution the NFL game at Wembley in 2007 made to the English sporting landscape was to destroy the football pitch in a way which benefited Croatia in the critical Euro qualifier three weeks later against England.

But that peculiar institution known as American sports is changing. Like Slavery, another peculiar institution which died in the United States long after it was banned in Europe and European colonies abroad, the changing sports landscape has come to America. But Americans tend to be conservative, slow and in many cases ignorant of the rest of the world. Much of this ignorance is created by a xenophobic media fearful of change, and in many cases too lazy to try and understand the rest of the world.

America is not only slow and conservative, but to a certain extent isolated by the vast seas and a language which is not spoken as a native tongue south of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. As the United States becomes less isolated and more Latinized, Football will continue to grow into a mainstream sport at home. The TV viewership for internationals already rivals Baseball and Basketball, and only lags far behind (American) Football and NASCAR, a sport which has wisely become more international in its outlook. In time, conservative critics will either fade away or be blown over by football in America: it’s only a matter of when.


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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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