SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
I received dozens of replies to yesterday’s post about why I hate the American soccer team and was so happy to see it seize defeat from the jaws of victory in the Confederation Cup final against Brazil. The replies were overwhelmingly negative and a few were nasty (“You are embarrassing to our nation, the sport and journalism”). I’ll publish a few below. Thanks to everyone for writing, even Matt Horton, who sent that last comment (and I published the most civilized sentence of his tirade).
I don’t have time to respond to all the emails, but two things. First, to all those — including the editor of this blog — who said I don’t know anything about soccer, I lived in Brazil for five years and have seen many games, and even covered a few when I worked for the Associated Press. I have watched every World Cup since 1990 and have not missed a single game of Brazil’s in all that time. So I do know something about the game — and yes, of course, Brazil is my favorite team, which is why the American collapse last Sunday was especially delicious — and I recognize good soccer. The United States does not play good soccer; the national team has forever been boring, mostly talentless (Landon Donovan among the few exceptions) and specializes in choking on the rare occasion that it manages to get ahead of a good team.
Second, various emailers accused me of hating the United States and rooting against the team for “political” reasons. That’s just stupid. I root for American baseball and basketball teams in international competitions. I just hate the soccer team, for the reason I stated in the original piece and because it’s filled with a bunch of losers. I wish them continued defeat and heartache in the World Cup.
Meanwhile, here are a few comments:
From Matt Smith:
Don’t be such a jerk. It’s a first for American football fans to see
our country in a FIFA Final Cup match. The reason why people enjoyed
seeing the US play the best team in the world is a lot like seeing
George Mason take on Florida in 2006. Was it probable? No chance.
Were they going to win the NCAA Championship? Probably not, but we -
Americans – like the underdog, and it’s deeply rooted in our history.
Wait a few years before you start hating on U.S. Soccer. Besides, find
another country to cheer for after we lose in the World Cup.
From Brandon West:
I disagree with your piece, but I will acknowledge that we shouldn’t expect the U.S. to be
competing with the best from now on. But to suggest that the U.S. never
belonged in the competition is a little bit much. The U.S. team has been
largely the dominant program in our conference, and is beginning to
give Mexico a run for its money. They have been ranked ahead of Mexico
for some time now, this isn’t completely a [new] phenomenon that we are
practically the best team in the CONCACAF, which is how we got into
the competition in the first place.
From David Cody:
I have no idea if the U.S. soccer team is mediocre now, but they certainly were 15 years ago, when I finally just gave up on them. You couldn’t find a better example of reckless ignorance, even on television. Watching the US play soccer was like tuning in to an Olympic track meet and getting a demolition derby instead.
And my favorite, from Richard Steele, who frequently posts comments on GOAL, the New York Times blog on soccer under the moniker of boringarsenal.
Loved your response to the USA v Brazil match. As an avid follower of
real football, nee soccer, I am always amused when fellow office
workers chime in with following, “Hey, I watched that, what was it,
the Confederations Cup, wow, it was great.” “Gee, I’m going to start
watching soccer, it’s really a wonderful sport.” I spend 9 months of the year watching the Premier League and Football
League matches from merry old’ England, and suddenly whenever an
international match of dubious value pops up, my fellow Americans get
quite worked up…Yeah, I hate ‘em, too!
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”