What I’m reading and writing, June 28

• If I can’t be in Brazil for the next World Cup in 2014, then I’ll cut a shuck for Vanuatu or any other place on the planet except the United States. Nothing against my country, but rather the America media that every four years insists on deconstructing their fellow citizens who like the sport. This post-U.S. vs. Ghana psychoanalysis comes from Jeff McGregor at ESPN.com, who has made what I believe is the most confounding analogy I have ever read about this infatuation:

“Weirdly, while the rest of us struggle, some of the original American fans, the deep believers and postwar pre-modern footie zealots don’t want to let the game go. They want to keep it for themselves, keep it small and cool and solitary. Like when you were a teenager and you discovered a passion of your own and you held it close and tight; and as soon as your parents found out about it, or even your friends, it was ruined. No matter what you say about soccer, it seems to them like the wrong thing to say about soccer. If you don’t believe me, read the comments on any American soccer thread on the internet. There’s a core constituency there holding the game in trust only for themselves. Holding it hostage, like a priesthood.

Well, so much for complaints that American soccer fans are trying to shove the sport down everyone else’s throat! Been too self-absorbed for that, apparently:

“These are the same kind of folks who loved jazz to death in this country, smothered it with the same ‘You can’t understand the beauty of this’ condescension and obsession. Come to think of it, that’s another strike against soccer in the American mind, too: It’s too much like jazz. Too improvisational, too fluid, too ungoverned. Maybe that’s why jazz as a going concern fled this country to Europe all those years ago. We tend to prefer games and melodies that keep us thinking inside the box.”

I know you can fire up the Internet from anywhere and read this stuff, and I realize that we have so many commentators who have to say something they think is relevant — everybody’s gotta have a take, you know — but really now? First they came for jazz, now they’re coming for soccer! What will they seek to destroy next? Sudoku?

To equate devotées of a sport that red-blooded Americans think is too foreign with those groovy cats who are passionate about the quintessential American art form is quite a bit of a stretch. And quite silly.

American soccer fans I know experience nothing like an existential crisis. It’s those who treat them like anthropological matter who can’t seem to let go of assumptions that have little basis in fact.

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