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Soccer doesn’t really explain much more than soccer

When I was in Europe, I found myself swept up in Euro 2004 fever. I found it odd that a sport I never before followed took so much of my attention. When I saw reviews of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explain the World, I got a copy of it from my local library.

I just finished it, and, well, If soccer does explain the world, Franklin doesn’t explain that to us. Really, it’s just an excuse for Mr. Foer to travel all over the world, and where he has brought back stories of soccer in various places. There’s actually a lot of good material in there — he finds some interesting stories, and tells them well. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of FC Barcelona (aka Barca) — the truly populist nature of the team reminded me of the Green Bay Packers. (I tend to think that only cities should own teams, not individuals.)

Anyway, a good book, but not really an exploration of “globalization.”

  1. Another book along the same theme, perhaps, is Tropic of Hockey by Dave Bidini

    Canadian writer and rock musician Bidini shares his rediscovery of hockey and the global odyssey that brought him back to his nation’s sport. Bidini’s narrative is funny and thoughtful as he comes to grips with national identity, which in Canada almost invariably means hockey. The book’s central theme is that of a dispossessed fan, one who grew out of the sport as he embraced rock and roll, only to rediscover the joy and beauty of hockey as an adult…From Hong Kong to Manchuria, from Transylvania to the United Arab Emirates, the author discovers players and personalities the casual NHL fan would never imagine. Like all good travelogues, Bidini’s carries a healthy dose of soul searching; a great storyteller, he’s at his best when he stumbles upon revelations about himself or hockey. Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is that it is among the first hockey books written by someone entirely outside the pro game.

  2. That’s only because it was not written by a Brazilian…. 😉 Just kidding… but I agree with you, that book is pretty pointless – though reading about soccer is always fun.

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