THE OTHER "AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

":
WHY IS THERE NO SOCCER IN THE UNITED STATES?
by Andrei S. Markovits
Associate Professor of Political Science
Boston University
&
Research Associate
Harvard Center for European Studies
Commentary by Charles S. Maier, Professor of History, Harvard University,
and Senior Associate, Harvard Center for European Studies
1
Introduction
Once again, the world's most important media event which undoubtedly captured
the uninterrupted attention of most of the world's male population for the entire
month of June 1986, barely left the realm of esoterica in the United States.(l>
Although the quadrennial World Cup was hosted by America's southern neighbor,
Mexico, this event failed to capture the imagination of the American public.
Interest in the United States was strikingly minute in comparison to that exhibited
in virtually every country in the world, including those politically and
economically most similar to the United States, i.e. the liberal capitalist
democracies of Western Europe, as well as those quite different, i.e. members of the
Communist bloc or that loose conglomerate known as the -Third World".(2) Even
though American television coverage of World Cup '86 was more extensive than ever
before, this major global event remained outside of the mainstream of American
sports life, let alone public life in general. (3) Why does the United States
continue to be so aloof with regard to the world's most popular sport? Why has
soccer played such a marginal role in the public consciousness of this sports-crazed
society? What are the origins and ongoing mani festations of this other "American
Excepti onali sm"? This paper purports to shed some light on these interesting-
perhaps even important - questions.
SqIb.rt 8.yill'td ADd Am.rie"1 Socc.r IIExctpUon.U1,", So.. cOlp.r.tly.
el.rt fic.tionl
Werner Sombart, li ke virtually all European observers of the "New World" before
and after him, was both fascinated by and ambivalent .towards this country. The
ambivalence reflected the invariable combination of both negative and positive
generalizations based on the "uniqueness" of the United States as a European
extension with certain puzzling peculiarities. (4) To Sombart, the most puzzling of
these IIAmericanisms" was the absence of a large, well-organized, mass-based working
class movement headed by a political party. Among the realistic aims of this party
2
would be the improvement of conditions for its members and voters, who hailed from
the working class and thus represented the majority of the population in all
industrial societies, including the United States. To achieve its aim, the party
would first attain and then exercise state power through the channels of
parliamentary democral:Y. t3iven Sombart's concern, his question "Why is there no
socialism in the United States?" is rather misleading. Socialism did not exist in
the Europe of his time either, thus making the United States quite unexceptional to
any country in the old world.(S) A far more appropriate though definitely less
elegant title for Sombart's book would have been "why is there no large,
organized, working class movement led by a social democratic party in the United
States?" One could think of few more corroborating compliments to the validity and
originality of the study's central observation though, than its continued relevance
as one of the most intellectually exciting bodies of literature in American history
and social science.(6)
The parallels to soccer are striking. Just as Sombart noted the absence of
what he called "socialism", we too can observe a basic absence of soccer, as the
dominant participant and spectator team sport, in the United States throughout the
twentieth century. This is not to say that soccer - like Sombart's "socialism"­
has been completely absent from the American experience. Both appeared on these
shores virtually concomitantly wi th their respective "inventions" in Europe and both
continue to flourish in various guises. Socialist parties and movements have always
existed in twentieth century America, just like the game of soccer has been played
virtually without any interruption in this vast country since its introduction in
the nineteenth century. (7) "Socialism's" fortunes have ebbed and flowed in the
larger context of American politics and intellectual life without ever coming close
to attaining a dominant, let alone hegemonic, position like in Europe.
Comparatively soccer has never posed any serious challenge to America's own "big
three" featuring baseball, football and the somewhat distant third of basketball.
3
can that of two will
in thus to plul"alism in
thought, politics and sports. It is to
that will a of national in
traditional in of
will thus I am not arguing that
a of and "socialism" in
to industrial I will try to
show that of which to an
"socialism" also account for of
among sports.
That is insignificant to is in that what
of world, with virtually rio calls "football",
know only as of "football" is by
fact that in most non-English sport has of
the term "football" is to conform to
orthography and pronunciation of local or a translation
such as "Fussball" or Hungarian "labdarugas". It is only in
such as "football"
sport or Association Football is of that
is used. Among cousins, most notably
Australia and Canada, but also and the of South Africa,
all - like the States - British
by immigrants. this case for "American with
to thus confining validity of only to "socialism"?(9)
I think not for following two First, subordinant position in
sports topography of as as of English­
should not detract from of
4
situation, in which soccer's potential for eminence as a mass sport was preempted by
the creation of three indigenous team sports. Baseball, football and basketball
have continued to enjoy unrivaled 'popularity among the American public since their
respective introductions as mass sports. (10) Ice hockey developed as Canada's
national sport. Having successfully exported it south of the border, Canada
provided the United States with yet another, though regionally confined, popular
team sport and gave many countries of the globe's northern hemisphere one of their
favorite winter activities. The rest of Canada's popular sport "space" is dominated
by America's "big three" though, with baseball and basketball exact replicas of the
American games, and Canadian football showing only very minor modifications from its
American cousin. Interestingly, Canada is among the handful of countries where the
two most parochial and idiosyncratic factors responsible for America's "soccer
exceptionalism" - football and baseball have attained a respectable presence
outside of the United States. Cricket occupies a major portion of New Zealand's,
Australia's and South Africa's sport "space", as it does in India, Sri Lanka,
Pakistan and the Caribbean islands, i.e. the West Indies. The remainder of the
sport "space" in these countries is filled by field hockey <India, Pakistan and Sri
Lanka), rugby (New Zealand and South Africa) and Australian Rules football
(Australia). Common to all of these countries then is the presence of cricket as
the national sport, the marginal existence of soccer, and the existence of a second,
rather obscure and somewhat modified British team sport. In contrast to the United
States, none of these countries developed three virtually new team sports which
consumed almost all the existing sport "space" of their society, as the "big three"
have in the United States. Curiously, these -big three" - with the notable
exception of basketball(11) have remained almost completely confined to the
borders of their creator despite the latter's preeminent position as the uncontested
global leader in the politics, economic affairs and popular culture of the twentieth
century.
5
This brings me to the second reason why America's soccer "exceptionalism"
di ffers from the ones briefly mentioned in the preceding lines. By virtue of the
Unites States' militaYy, political, economic and cultural hegemony throughout much
of the twentieth century often referred to with some justification as "the
American century" almost all of America's actions (or inactions) attain meaning
beyond their actual reality. The concept of· "Americanism" has few, if any,
parallels in the twentieth century, thus denoting the uniquely nodal position of the
United States in the modern world. This country's hegemony extends beyond the
immediate orbit of the liberal democracies of industrial capitalism and is equally
significant to the countries of the Second and Third Worlds.(12) Crudely put, the
United States matters more in the world's affairs than do Canada, Australia or New
Zealand. Important issues within these countries remain unnoticed by the rest of
the world or at best become esoteric items gaining the attention of a few
specialists. Newsworthy issues in the United States though are of both national, as
well as international, importance. Thus, the editors and sport writers of Sovietski
Sport have probably never wondered why New Zealanders or South Africans seem unmoved
by soccer. Along with the rest of the world's soccer fans however, they have most
certainly asked themselves why soccer plays such a marginal role in the United
States. (13) American soccer "exceptionalism" like the absence of "socialism" in the
United States has received so much attention in good part because of America's
predominant global position. Whereas the "socialism" debate has generated much
impressive scholarship though, the question of soccer "exceptionalism" has remained
confined to the oral tradition of stadium debates and bar room chatter allover the
world. Clearly the two "exceptionalisms" and their consequences for the quality of
human existence in the United States can not be construed as equally significant.
Soccer, while like all major sports a multi-billion dollar business, still remains a
game, whereas "socialism" would, at. a very minimum, most certainly diminish, if not
alleviate, the misery of the American poor by its creation and maintenance of a
6
well-functioning wei fare state. Thus, Sombartian "exceptionalism" has rendered the
United States, far and away the richest country in the world, to be the only major
industrial democracy without, among other things, a compulsory, state-involved,
comprehensive national health insurance for its sick. Nothing of comparable
importance accompanies American soccer "exceptional ism". This second
"exceptionalism" isolates the Uni ted States from a leisure acti vi ty and collective
involvement though, which has captured the rest of the world's undivided attention
since the beginning of this century. It is to the common origins of both
"exceptionalisms" that I now turn.
Am.r!c. - !h' rir.t Ntw Nation
The most important common denominator for both "exceptionalisms" and the single
most pervasive underlying variable for an understanding of American politics and
society is the quintessentially bourgeois nature of this country's objective
development and subjective self-legitimation from its very inception to the present.
This "natural", hence all the more comprehensive,bourgeoisificati-on of American
politics and society created certain structures and an accompanying atmosphere which
definitely distinguished this country from all others in the "old world" and from
the latter's mere colonial extensions overseas (as opposed to "new world" which, as
a concept, remained tellingly reserved almost exclusively for the United
States). (14) Central to this burgeoning "Americanism" was the free individual who
was to attain his fulfillment by being an independent, rational actor in a free
market unfettered by any oppressive collectivities, be they the state or social
classes, organized religion or the army. In short, bourgeois America created a new
identity which prided itself on being explicitly different from that found anywhere
in aristocratic Europe. Only by separating church from state could this new society
develop a politically unchallenged secularism which in turn could be viewed as being
among the most religious in the advanced industrial world. (15) Moreover, only by
establishing an unprofessional military under strict civilian control - in addition
7
to the continued presence of the "frontier
ll
, yet another major ingredient of
"American exceptionalism
ll
- could the United States develop into one of the most
heavily armed societies among advanced industrial countries.(16) By establishing a
broad concept of equality which, however, was to remain in a permanently subservient
position to the individual's freedom by merely providing him with equal access to an
abundance of opportunities, this new country created an ingenious system of popular
participation which was at once mediated yet also comprehensive. Above all, it
created a framework for the development of powerful myths of unbound freedom and
limitless opportunities, which became one of the most attractive ideologies of the
modern world. Indeed, as Leon Samson has persuasively argued, Americanism carried a
veneer laden with terms rather similar to those used by socialism and other
movements of the left, due to the above-mentioned myths. Thus socialism was
"crowded out" from the consciousness and praxis of this bourgeois America
(Americanism =Socialism so to speak.) (17) The primacy of a bourgeois order is
further substantiated by other well-known components of "American exceptionalism":
the existence of the franchise for white males; the persistence of two "non­
ideological", "pragmatic" and sel f-defined middle-class parties who, aided by a
highly centrist electoral system, have successfully "crowded out" any newcomers
and the crucial role of an integrating nationalism exemplified by the "melting pot".
America's soccer "exceptionalism" is also rooted in this bourgeois order.
Modern sports are inextricably tied to the development of mass democracies.
Sport in its organized form of regulated leisure and, subsequently, of commodified
culture, goes hand in hand with such major components of "modernization" as
urbanization, industrialization, education and the constantly expanding
participation of a steadily growing number of citizens in the public life of
politics, production and consumption. The creation and - perhaps more importantly­
dissemination of modern sports are thus part and parcel of a bourgeois mode of
li fe. While most modern sports were actually "invented" by members of society's
8
"higher stations" either of aristocratic or, more often, quasi-aristocratic bent,
they soon became the purvie.... of the bourgeoisie and the "masses", if they were to
gain any significance beyond that enjoyed by polo or croquet, for instance. Thus,
it was the two most bourgeois societies of the latter half of the nineteenth
century, Great Britain and the United States, which founded organized, professional,
team sports and enjoyed by the masses in their own countries, and - in the
case of Britain's "inventions", especially soccer - everywhere in the world. (18)
The dissemination of the respective national sports correlated positively with the
two countries' global position. Great Britain was still the leading imperial power
and as such, the main opinion leader and cultural "hegemon" of the time. People all
over the world emulated British ways, especially those related to recreation,
relaxation and sports. The United States, on the other hand, ....as still by and large
an isolated "new world" which fascinated the European public, but whose concrete
presence was very marginal. This isolation was in part self-imposed by America's
self-identification as being distinctly non-European, perhaps even anti-European.
Whereas Britain derived much of its legitimacy from being the center of a
huge empire during the latter half of the nineteenth century, America attained its
legi timacy by being a new, sel f-contained "frontier" society, independent of the
mother country unlike its Australian and Canadian cousins. This strong
ambivalence towards Great Britain, manifesting itself in a clear affinity fostered
by a common language and a disdain for the old colonial master, whose very presence
threatened the "new world's" identity formation, greatly influenced the development
of public discourse in the United States during the latter half of the nineteenth
century. This "special relationship", marked by both admiration and rejection,
proved particularly significant in the realm of sports. (19) As we will soon see,
both football and baseball developed into American sports R2L excellence within the
framework of this ambivalent and largely one-sided dialogue which America conducted
with Britain about its ways. Both sports developed out of largely pre-industrial,
9
II eli te" British team acti vi ties. Through complete bourgeoisi fication, they became
adapted to a new, commercialized industrial order in a "new world
ll
By the time •
Britain's own mass sport, soccer, had been successfully exported allover the world,
America's sport "space
lt
was already occupied by former British imports now converted
into genuine American games. Why was soccer "crowded out" in the United States?
Firstly, the American bourgeoisie had successfully established its own national
game, baseball, which largely paralleled the timing of soccer's dissemination as a
mass sport in 6reat Britain. Secondly, young elites at the top American
universities were keener on playing - and then altering - what had developed into a
British "elite" sport <i.e. rugby) rather than expressing their anglophilia by
importing soccer which by that time had undergone a "vulgarization" similar to
baseball's in the United States. In the following section, I will offer brief
descriptions of the developments of soccer, football and baseball respectively,
tracing the "massi fication" of each s p o r t ~
Th' D.v.lopm,nt "of Mod.rn Soccer in Br1ta1nl from tts .lit. origins to th. world',
lOst popular mass 'port
The ancient and geographically diverse precursors to the game of soccer are
well documented.(20) In disparate parts of the world such as China, ancient Rome
and Greece, India and the Americas, men would gather periodically and kick some
round object to and away from each other. Whether it was the skull of a defeated
Danish enemy, as some English legend has it, or the stuffed bladder of a slaughtered
animal, people would somehow devise"a "ball" with which they played. (21) These
periodic festivities, centered around a ball-like object, continued throughout
Europe's Middle Ages, occurring virtually everywhere on the Continent as well as the
British Isles. The game of calcio, hailing from Roman times, was the biggest IIteam
sport" in Florence around 1500. (22) It was widely played in Italy in ,subsequent
,enturies, though - rather tellingly and in tandem with the re,t of the world-
modern soccer in Italy stems entirely from the introduction of Association Football
10
by the British in the late 1BOOs/early 1900s.(23) The medieval "precursor" to
modern soccer was a wild, disorganized free-for-all which often ended in riots,
resulting in serious injuries and occasionally even death for some participants.
That authorities more often than not forbade the playing of football attests to the
roughness of these riotlike games and also to their potential danger in seriously
disrupting the public order. Nevertheless, these uncontrolled, disorganized
"matches" in which two opposing sides would try to control the "ball" by kicking,
holding, running or throwing it, became regular occurrences on or around certain
festivals. Best known in England were the football games on Shrove Tuesday where
crowds would gather annually to celebrate their last day of freedom before the
strict and dour days of Lent. The contests in Ashbourne and Derby became legendary.
In Derby, the "match" between the parishes of St. Peter and All Saints became such
an intense tradition, that the term a "derby" developed, connoting the
institutionalized contest between two long-standing, usually local, rivals.(24)
Through the export of modern Association football, this English term, along with
many others, became commonplace in the contemporary vernacular of some continental
languages, such as German, Hungarian and Rumanian. These mass happenings had, in
fact, little to do with what was to become modern Association football or soccer.
As James Walvin has pointed out, this pre-modern form of mass entertainment
virtually disappeared from the lives of the common people during the early stages of
the Industrial Revolution only to re-emerge circa one hundred years later (i.e.
during the 1880s) with a fervor and enthusiasm which was to conquer the entire world
with the exception of the United States 25 years later. (25) In the intervening
period, the upper stratum of the English bourgeoisie,aided by several far-reaching
structural changes particular to a new industrial age, turned this wild,
disorganized and dangerous medieval festival into the most popular modern team sport
on earth.
from the very beginning of its development, modern soccer became inextricably
11
linked to the most fundamental aspects of "modernization": discipline exacted by
regulated industrial life; the strict separation of leisure and work; the necessity
of organized and regularized recreation for the masses; cheap and efficient public
transportation by railroads (intercity) and by trolleys (intracity); prompt and
widely available mass communication via the press (introduction of the sport pages
in newspapers), to be followed by telegrams (crucial for the development of nation­
wide betting>, radio, and then television; and - perhaps most importantly - the
development and rapid expansion of modern education.
Though Wellington probably never said anything about Waterloo h a ~ i n g been won
on the playing fields of Eton, the fact that generations of middle class Britons
cherished this belief conveys the centrality of the so-called public schools to the
dissemination of bourgeois culture in nineteenth century Britain. (26) These public
schools, "ideal training grounds for merchants as well as aristocrats", formed the
cradle for soccer and rugby, the forerunner to American football. Starting in the
1830s, English intellectuals and educators became concerned with a complete
education befitting the new industrial order. The goal was to produce not only the
most efficient - but also the most well-rounded and thus fulfilled - lawyers,
doctors, civil servants and scholars. Be they the ideas of "godliness and good
learning" as articulated by Charles Kingsley or similar concepts put forth at
various times by thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle, Herbert Spencer and John Henry
Newman, the idea could best be summarized by that ubiquitous Latin phrase "mens sana
in corpore sano''.(27) Organized sports had suddenly attained a central role in the
proper education of Great Britain's young, male, bourgeois elite. Best described in
the famous book Tom Brown's Schooldays published by Thomas Hughes in 1857, it was in
this atmosphere that modern soccer emerged.
The game of football was played at all prestigious public schools, at both the
old guard of Eton, Harrow, Charterhouse, Rugby, Westminster and Shrewsbury, or the
new foundations of Cheltenham (1841), Marlborough (1843) and Wellington (1853).(28)
12
Until of 1840s, school basically its own of
football, an intramural with almost fluid
school's particular kind of football on
In schools such as Eton, and which had only narrow
"pi at disposal, the- "dribbling
in which of hands was Harrovian football, not
by 1 imi tations but by di fficul also
a on dribbling ball, although catching it in air or only
bounce on ground, was still Conditions at
kicking and dashing play" with use of hands also
Rugby, by schools such as and Marlborough, was
main school at which "running (29) ty of
this sport to at Rugby in 1830s is
in of Tom Brown's Schooldays. This "running split
from "kicking and dribbling" in 1863 and into Rugby Football,
to both and Australian Football. "kicking and
dribbling" Association Football (30)
With gradual of national railway by
1840s, traditionally intramural into an
in which among various public schools to occur with
With of public school alumni in
football and In addition to
play at and public schools throughout 1850s,
first clubs at this all having by
and/or on a basis in south of England.
Still , sporadic and throughout
1850s. A of had a by 1860s
though, of football had into a sport which
13
beyond the confines of England's public schools.
In 1862 J.C. Thring, assistant master of Uppingham and one of two Shrewsbury
graduates to form the first football team at Cambridge in 1846, issued a set of
rules known as "The Simplest Game". (31) Streamlining all the rules into ten pOints,
Thring's step al though initially only considered for use at Uppingham­
represented a major development in making football an easily transferable,
ubiquitously applicable game. A lively reaction and revision process followed
during which the 14 points of the Cambridge University Rules of 1863 originated. On
Monday, October 26, 1863 the Football Association <F.A.) was founded at the
Freemason's Tavern on Great Queen Street in London and proceeded to decree
football's 13 "laws". (32) These "laws" - in notable contrast to the earlier "rules"
- govern the world's most popular sport to this day virtually unchanged. Rule 9
("No player shall run with the ball.") and Rule 10 ("Neither tripping or hacking
shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary. ")
especially dismayed the sti 11 numerous supporters of the "running game". The
cleavage between these two increasingly di fferent versions of football became so
pronounced during the 1860s that by 1871 the supporters of the "running game" formed
their own association. Entitled the Rugby Union, it completely finalized rugby's
secession from Association Football and initiated the establishment of the "running
game" as an independent sport sui generis.
In the same year the F.A., which to this day is the sole organizing body of
English soccer, began organizing its first comprehensive tournament including all
English clubs and culminating in a final match between the last two remaining teams
for the F.A. Cup. Held in London every year since 1872, the Cup final still
represents a highlight of the English soccer season and draws much attention on the
Continent as well, due to the tremendous respect accorded there to the oldest soccer
tournament in the motherland of this sport. Until 1882, the Cup Final was
invariably played between two strictly amateur clubs from England's south.
14
More-ove-r, most of the- playe-rs we-re- "ge-ntle-me-n" who had atte-nde-d one- of the- public
schools, Oxbridge-, or both. This was to change- for gO'Jd in 1882 whe-n a se-mi­
profe-ssional te-am from England's north, the- Blackburn Rove-rs, playe-d the- Old
Etonians for the- Cup. (33) Won by the- southe-rn ge-ntle-me-n for the- last time-, the- Cup
move-d northward as of 1883 (won by anothe-r Blackburn te-am, the- Olympic), re-gaine-d
only once- by a London club during the- ne-xt 32 ye-ars. This he-ge-mony of the- North and
the- Midlands in English football signale-d the- de-mise- of the- e-xclusive- "ge-ntle-me-n's
e-ra" in socce-r and the- concomitant arrival of the- game-'s profe-ssionalization and
comme-rcialization - in short, de-mocratization.
"Among the- Blackburn playe-rs we-re- thre-e- we-ave-rs, a spinne-r, a de-ntal assistant,
a plumbe-r, a cotton ope-rative- and an iron foundry worke-r."(34) Throughout the- 18705
and into the- 18805, socce-r rapidly de-ve-bJPe-d into a working class sport. Churche-s
in particular, se-e-ing socce-r as an ide-al ve-hicle- to combat urban proble-ms, spawne-d
clubs all ove-r the- country. Followe-d by schools, ne-ighborhood associations and
factorie-s, the- game- soon de-ve-Iope-d into Bre-at Britain's most ubiquitous sport,
having by that time- also prolife-rate-d into the- non-English parts of the- British
Isle-s. Lastly, some- te-ams de-ve-Iope-d as de- facto "winte-r branche-sOl of alre-ady
e-xisting cricke-t clubs, the-re-by e-xte-nding the- sport se-ason for the-ir me-mbe-rs to a
ye-ar-round involve-me-nt. This rapid prolife-ration of socce-r in little- more- than a
de-cade- was intimate-Iy re-Iate-d to the- nature- of the- game- itse-If. Priding itse-If as
"the- simple-st game-", socce-r's rule-s we-re- inde-e-d fe-w, cle-ar and e-asily communicable­
to playe-rs and spe-ctators alike-. In te-rms of e-quipme-nt, all that was ne-ede-d was a
ball and a re-Iative-Iy flat surface-. Eve-rything e-lse- - goal posts, ne-ts, line-s
de-marcating the- fie-Id and spe-cial are-as on it, boots and uniforms - was (and in
ce-rtain ways still is) not absolute-Iy e-sse-ntial for a socce-r match. Pe-rhaps the­
most important "de-mocratizing" factor was the- e-arly aware-ne-ss that ave-rage- physical
attribute-s suffice-d not only to be- ~ n ade-quate- socce-r playe-r but also a star. Just
as the- playe-r(s) with the- be-st physical attribute-s could not control the- flow and
15
outcome of the game, neither could the most intelligent, wily or wealthy_ Indeed,
it soon became evident that successful soccer always had to be a team effort in
which no one individual could ever exert sufficient control to decide a game
completely by himself. With the development of the passing game in the
soccer's collectivist identity became irreversibly established. (35)
By the mid 1880s, many factors contributed to the rapid rise of professionalism
and the concomitant disappearance of amateurism in British soccer: regular newspaper
coverage of the games; increased intercity matches among clubs; expanded and
modernized playing fields, surrounded by viewin9 areas for a growing number of fans
who paid admission fees; and the newly introduced work-free Saturday afternoons.
This shift from amateurism to professionalism entailed a sociological change in the
class background of soccer players as well as fans. As to the former, a poor
working class youth from some Midland industrial slum would clearly seize every
to make a better living by being paid for what essentially still
remained his hobby. As to the latter, a parallel "downward" shift in class
composi tion occurred during the 1880s, which led to a "crowding out" of the Engli sh
gentlemen by the working class from both the playing and viewing dimensions of the
soccer world. Walvin claims that during this time quite a few English soccer fans
and players with bourgeois backgrounds snubbed soccer as an increasingly
professional and "vulgar" sport and then pursued their ambitions as amateur
sportsmen in other games, such as rugby. (36)
With the establishment of the English Football League in 1888, followed by a
second division in 1892, the present structure of English professional soccer was
established in its essential contours. This format of league play shaped the game
of soccer in every country where it became the central sport. The need to maximize
profits on the increasingly expensive investments which these professional clubs
began to represent, was met neither by "friendly" matches on an irregular basis nor
by the potentially one-time involvement in the F.A. Cup tournament. Therefore the
16
football League developed. Its twelve original members - all from England's north
and the Midlands - would compete for the League championship by playing a continuous
round-robin tournament in which each team would play every other team twice, once
"at home" and once "away". By the early 1890s, English football - as the world has
come to know it - was fully established in Great Britain. It was poised to conquer
the world, a hitherto unparalleled feat in sports history.
Soccer enjoyed a "national", i.e. class-transcendent, appeal in Britain by the
late nineteenth century in spite of its professionalized "vulgarization" during the
1880s and 1890s. This fact together with the ubiquity and prominence of British
presence throughout .. the world during this period help to explain the exportability
of soccer. It is telling that the sport was introduced to many countries by an
eclectic group of people: visiting English sailors (france, Spain, Brazil>; British
embassy personnel (Sweden); British workers engaged in local projects (Russia,
Rumania, Poland, Uruguay); local schoolboys bringing the game back with them
following the completion of their education in England (Holland, Italy, Spain,
Brazil, Portugal); and members of local English clubs which expanded their sport
activities from cricket and horseback riding to soccer (Austro-Hungarian Empire,
Germany, Argentina). Aided by a proliferation of coaches and other officials
imported from England and Scotland, and by frequent "missionary" vi si ts from English
clubs who would tour the respective country playing exhibition matches against its
newly founded teams, soccer quickly became the most dominant team sport on the
European continent and in Latin America by the eve of World War 1.(37) Developments
in the United States, conversely, proved a good deal less fortuitous for soccer.
In America, soccer remained closely associated with immigrants, a stigma which
proved fatal to soccer's potential of becoming a popular team sport in the "new
world". The game's various precursors were played in the colonies of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with documentation of a game as early as 1609
in Virginia. (38) As in England, football was played on the streets and in open
17
squares, often leading to riot-like disturbances which, in turn, led the authorities
to forbid the game on a number of occasions. Again similar to England, the game did
not attain any social respectabi 1i ty until the fi rst hal f of the nineteenth century,
when the nation's top colleges - led by Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia­
started playing various versions of football on an intramural basis. Outlawed
periodically by university administrators because of its raucous nature and
accompanying roughness both on and off the field, the game did not become organized
until the 1860s. Early in this decade, students and alumni from a number of elite
Boston secondary schools united to form the Oneida Football Club which remained
undefeated - and even unscored upon - between 1862 and 1865, lending the "Boston
Game" exceptional prominence in America's still small, diverse football world.(39)
Allowing the use of hands and feet, the "Boston Game" soon became the most popular
sport across the Charles River in Cambridge, home of Harvard University.
Retrospectively, this synthesis may have proved an early harbinger for soccer's
failure to become a major popular sport at American colleges, and subsequently in
American society as a whole.
By the end of the decade, the game had achieved sufficient intercollegiate
uniformity to allow for the playing of the first college football game in American
history, which was held on Saturday, November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick between
Rutgers and Princeton. This event can be classified both as the first football as
well as the first soccer game in modern American history since the game was played
according to rules which were somewhere in between those of Association and Rugby
Football. (40) Columbia joined the original two in 1870 and by 1872 the group
included Rutgers, Princeton, Yale and Stevens. These schools played an Association­
type kicking game. Even though local differences in rules persisted, all
participants agreed that the ball could not be picked up with the hands, caught,
thrown or carried. Soccer in its rudimentary form seemed to have assumed an
important foothold among leading American colleges. It failed to do so at the
18
country's oldest and most prestigious institution of higher learning though:
Harvard persistently opposed the "kicking 'game", clinging tenaciously to its "Boston
Game" which it had perfected in the interim. (41) When the other schools uni formly
adopted Association rules in 1873, they desisted from calling themselves a league
due to Harvard's absence. Indeed, the unique prestige of this very special
institution ultimately overturned the "kicking game's" apparent victory among
American college students of the early 1870s and led to the running game's complete
and ultimate triumph by 1877. In search of an opponent, Harvard turned north of the
border to McGill University which played rugby at the time. The two universities
agreed to play two matches in 1874, the first according to the rules of Harvard's
"Boston Game", the second following McGill's rugby rules. As expected, Harvard won
the first encounter easily and was poised to lose the rematch to McGill.
Surprisingly, the Harvard team played McGill to a scoreless tie.(42) More important
than this unexpected and respectable result for soccer's future, was the Harvard
team's unanimous enthusiasm for the game of rugby which they henceforth embraced
wholeheartedly as their own. The "Boston ,Game", having been a hybrid between rugby
and soccer and thus still including more kicking and foot-involved ball contact than
rugby, was dismissed as sleepy and boring. In its stead, the "running game"
developed in its then purest form as Harvard's unchallenged team sport. (43) Barely
one year later, in 1875, Yale's well-established rivalry with Harvard proved
stronger than its membership in a loose association with Columbia, Princeton and a
few other schools then playing the "kicking game". In that year the first "Game"
between Yale and Harvard was played, with Harvard winning easily in a game Yale had
never played until then. That year Yale still fulfilled its "soccer obligations" to
Columbia and Wesleyan, but by 1876 Yale had dropped soccer and replaced it with
rugby. The other universities followed, with Princeton succumbing last in 1877.
Rugby's triumph over soccer at American colleges was so thorough that soccer did not
reappear on American campuses on an intercollegiate level until 1902. By that time
19
American Football - rugby's successor in the "new world" - had gained an unshakable
prominence in American college life.(44) Stigmatized as slow, boring and devoid of
action due to the relative paudty of scoring when compared to any of the "Big
Three" American sports, soccer has, since its re-introduction as a varsity sport,
languished in the giant shadows cast on it by football and later basketball. At
American universities, as in American society, soccer has remained largely the
domain of foreigners and recent immigrants, both as players and spectators. Let us
now look at the developments of football and baseball respectively, so we can better
understand what occupied the American "sport space" upon soccer's arrival on these
shores and how this "preoccupation" led to the "crowding out" of the world's most
popular sport. Since we just discussed the origins of American football in the
context of soccer's failure in the United States, it seems best to continue the
paper by looking at football before turning to baseball.
"Crowding ou' from .b
o
y'"' Tb. c.,. of Am.ric.n footb.ll
What Harvard had started by sticking to the running game, Yale completed by
offering football its charismatic "founding father" and most influential modernizer.
Indeed, Parke Davi s, "the Plutarch of early college football", expl ici tly equated
Walter Camp of Yale to George Washington by stating that "what Washington was to his
country, Camp was to American football the friend, the founder, and the
father. "(45) Attaining legendary fame as a player and reformer during the game's
most formative years, Camp "was said to have been the model for the fictional
character 'Frank Merriwell of Yale''', America's first and greatest sports hero on
whom a whole generation of American boys was weaned after 1896.(46)
Camp's major and lasting contribution was to transform football from a quasi-
aristocratic English game to a quintessentially bourgeois American activity of the
twentieth century. Astute observers of American sports and culture such as David
Riesman and Michael Qriard have drawn explicit parallels between Walter Camp and
20
Winslow Taylor. (47) Simultaneously, though presumably of
each other, both were engaged in the modernization, regularization and
systematization of their - football and factory production - which
undergoing far-reaching changes of bourgeoisification (and Americanization) at
turn of century. Walter Camp could be as the in
the "Taylorization" of a sport which, following the successful conclusion of this
process, as American football.
Camp's leadership, rugby's ad hoc and free-for-all for ball,
unpredictable English "scrum", became the clearly American
"scrimmage", in which the offensive and defensive teams confronted each
Confusion and ambiguity still however with both sides vying for the ball
simultaneously at the beginning of each play, often tying up the ball and thereby
impeding the commencement of the game. Therefore further clarification was added by
awarding what was to become the "center snap" to the offensive team. Undisputed
possession of the ball was thus Camp and his' reformers "taylorized"
the field by drawing. clear on it, making a team's progress, movement and
location perfectly measurable at any time of the' game. The gridiron - in and of
itself a Taylorist concept - set stage for football's subsequent and lasting
domination by statistics (yards carry; total passing yardage; total running
yardage; etc.). In order to and encourage movement on the gridiron, and to
counter the "block game" in which each team would the ball for "i ts" hal f of
the game, Camp introduced a rule requiring a team to make five yards in three downs,
extended to ten yards in four downs in 1912.(48) Camp reduced the number of players
per team from 15 to 11 and each player was assigned a specific position in which he
was to excel and specialize. He devised the arrangement which became
standard - seven linemen, a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback. As part of
his "scientization" of football in which game plans, strategy, and tactics assumed
an increasingly central role, Camp also introduced a rule which permitted tackling
21
as low as the knees. This maneuver to bring a man down was more efficient, though
also more brutal,than the earlier method of wrestling an opponent to the ground.
The dangerous "wedge" appeared, perfected by Harvard to become the more devastating
"flying wedge", only to be countered by Camp's Yale teams with the "shoving wedge".
Play became violent, routinely resulting in major injuries and frequent deaths.
Finally President Roosevelt, having seen the photo of a mangled Swarthmore player in
the newspaper following a particulariy savage encounter between Swarthmore and
Pennsylvania in 1905, personally demanded that the game be reformed to eliminate
such obvious brutality. Only thereafter did Camp and others institute changes which
eliminated overt and willful maiming without, however, compromising the roughness of
the game which was deemed essential by virtually every educator and opinion leader
in the country. President Roosevelt's involvement led to the establishment of the
Intercollegiate Athletic Association in December 1905, headed by Captain Palmer
Pierce of West Point. It was renamed the National Collegiate Athletic Association
(N.C.A.A.> in 1910.(49) With Walter Camp in charge of the American Football Rules
Committee., the last substantial rule changes were undertaken yielding a game by the
eve of World War I which has basically remained intact on both the collegiate and
the professional levels to this day. One of the most important reforms was the
forward pass which established the "aerial attack" as yet another weapon in a team's
offensive strategy. This reform fostered the honing of finesse and precision at the
expense of sheer physical force, thus further contributing to what had already
become a highly "taylorized" sport.
Baseball had become the sport of the lower classes, "enjoying" the social
prestige of stage acting or gambling in Michael Oriard's words. Football developed
into the most popular sport among America's middle class by the turn of the century
when soccer made its triumphant conquest of the European continent and Latin
America. (50) Initially dominant only in the elite schools of the East Coast,
football rapidly spread westward establishing itself at places such as the
22
University of Chicago (coached by the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg), Oberlin,
Michigan and Notre Dame in the Midwest, Stanford and the Uniyersity of California at
Berkeley'::)n the West Coast. The 1920s witnessed the proliferation of college
football in the South and the Southwest, with both regions producing major powers by
the 1930s.
That football remained the virtual prerogative of collegiate America,
underscored the middle class nature of football's first four decades. Football
games on Saturday afternoons in the fall, especially around Thanksgiving, became
essential ingredients of bourgeois culture. College football attained such
a hegemonic position in American middle class culture, that it succeeded in
"crowding out" the professional game - as well as soccer - until the founding of the
National Football League in 1920, and arguably well into the post-World War II era.
Professionalism did not however remain excluded from the world of American football.
One aspect of the mens-sana-in-corpore-sano ideology of the American bourgeoisie was
the perception of football as a bastion of amateurism, in fact though,
professionalization of the college game had clearly set in by the turn of the
century. Gate receipts provided welcome revenue even to the wealthiest universities
such as Yale, where in 1903 "income from football equaled the combined budgets of
the law, divinity, and medical schools". (51) Yale was the first university to
professionalize its coaching staff and its rivals, initially protesting this vulgar
betrayal of amateur ideals, proceeded to hire their own professional coaches.
Staying competitive was critical for winning, which had graduated from being
everything to being the only thing.
The explicitly professional football game originated in the cultural
peripheries of America's steel and coal regions, such as Pittsburgh and the
surrounding areas of Allegheny County. Spreading later to the industrial regions of
Ohio, professional clubs were established in towns such as Akron and Canton (the
location of the Professional Football Hall of Fame). Most teams were owned by
23
wealthy businessmen who liked the game, wanted to provide some entertainment to the
local population (which often included a large number of their
own employees) and make some money in the process. Initially, most players were
local working class members with an occasional college graduate hired as the special
star, as was the case with the legendary William Walter (Pudge) Heffelfinger, Amos
Alonzo Stagg's teammate at Yale. With the gradual growth of the professional game
and its departure from America's hinterlands into the country's cultural centers
though, college graduates began to furnish the majority of the players. A situation
developed where American universities served as' professional football's farm system,
a function which they still perform. American higher education - an essential
institution of American bourgeois life continues its deep involvement with
football true to its legacy as the cradle and inventor of this quintessentially
American sport. (52)
All those involved in football (the players, fans, and team owners)
came to view the game not only as profoundly American, but also as fundamentally
modern contrasting it favorably to that other American sport - i.e. baseball. This
led to the erroneous but still powerful myth which continues to glorify baseball as
a rural game. Baseball having developed into America's "pastime" populated by the
country's masses, seemingly lacked the vigor and drive of modernity associated with
football's 'tscienti fic" aura. Rather than cultivating the leisurely image of a
"pastime", football prided itself on replicating the tough, strategic, determined
and ultimately victorious side of American life. rootball prominently featured all
the values central to bourgeois capitalism in the United States: British elite
origins to provide the necessary historical legitimacy coupled with American "robust
manliness" to distinguish it clearly from its "soft", disorganized, Victorian
predecessor(53); individual effort combined with intricate team work; hierarchical
control in tandem with corporate cooperation; and equality of opportunity and access
accompanied by the survival of the fittest.(54)
24
Just like American capitalism, so too was football made bearable by the "rules
of the game". In notable contrast to both soccer and rugby, American football­
like baseball - developed a mass of intricate rules which served as a lingua franca
f.::>r the sport in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society dominated by bourgeois
values of individualism rather than the noblesse oblige collectivism of the British
aristocratized sports world. Whereas a common culture among players - and between
players and spectators - permitted British sports to develop with a minimal system
of policing, a similar self-regulating approach was impossible in a country with a
constant influx of new immigrants, who had the importance of being number one
impressed upon them on arrival. In addition to providing a common ground of
understanding, rules also helped systematize and quantify American sports. The
per formance of a team, as well as of the individual, could be more "objectively"
measured than in the murky, collectivist British team sports. One could thus tie
remuneration, advancement or demotion to a player's IInumbers", analogous to the
reward system in a Taylorized form of industrial production. The existence of
written - as opposed to culturally internalized - rules also fostered an atmosphere
in which a premium was attached to devising "trick plays", designed to consciously
mislead the opponent by staying just this side of what the rules permitted or indeed
by violating them outright in the hope that the policing authorities would not
notice. "Trick plays", basically unknown to soccer, rugby and cricket, became woven
into the fabric of American football and baseball. Lastly as in politics­
clearly stated, written and universalistic rule had an equalizing effect on American
football by enhancing its attraction to otherwise disparate social groups. Rules
thereby enhanced participation and contributed to the popularization - if perhaps
less to the democratization - of this sport. It is now time to turn to America's
earliest popular sport. which helped "crowd out soccer from below".
25
Crowding out from b.low, Tb. ,.,. of b.,.b.ll
Purportedly, Jacques Barzun once said, "Whoever wants to know the heart and
mind of America had better learn baseball". Until the 1950s, baseball was far and
away America's most popular sport. From the very beginning of its development,
baseball's successful proliferation among America's maSSeS depended on its identity
as "American". Football never denied its British origins and indeed proudly pointed
to William Webb Ellis' alleged run at Rugby in 1823 as the inception of the game. In
contrast, baseball went to great length to deny having had any relationship to the
British game of rounders, all the while stressing the truly "Americanness" of the
game's every facet. In this context, the still widely held myth of Abner Doubleday
having originated the game in Cooperstown, New York in 1839 was created. To the
enthusiastic cries of "No rounders!", a group of 300 prominent baseball enthusiasts,
including Mark Twain and Chauncey M. Depew, gathered at Delmonico's in New York City
in 1889 to hear the fourth president of the National League, Abraham G. Mills,
declare that "patriotism and research" had established beyond any doubt the American
origin of baseball. (55) The creation of the Abner Doubleday myth was to forever
squelch the British claim that baseball was a descendant of rounders. Baseball's
"devotees found it increasingly difficult to swallow the idea that their favorite
pastime was of foreign origin. Pride and patriotism required that the game be
native, unsullied by English ancestry. "(56) Intense American natiVism, apparent
already during baseball's "take-off period" in the 1850s, ensured baseball's
eventual success as "the American National Game". Ties to rounders were consciously'
denied and baseball was systematically defined as "anti-cricket": faster, more
action-packed, tougher, requiring more ingenuity and individual initiative. In
short, baseball was better suited to and more accurately reflected li fe in the "New
Worl d".
The following analysis will focus on the evolution of baseball as a game and as
a national institution in a curious temporal parallel to soccer's development in
26
England. Baseball's tempestuous era - reflecting central conflicts in American
society of the late nineteenth century - came to a more or less accepted conclusion
by 1903, at the exact time of soccer's conquest of the world. Having developed into
America's mass sport and national pastime between the end of the Civil War and the
turn of the century, baseball had successfully ensconced itself in America's "sport
space". Thus little room remained for soccer to develop on the popular level, as it
did first in Great Britain, then on the European Continent and in Latin America, and
eventually in the rest of the world.
Baseball's precursors stretch back to America's colonial period when an array
of games with names such as "town-ball" and "round-ball" were played on village
greens primarily in New England and New York. Completely regional in character - as
attested to by such names as the "Massachusetts Game", "New England Game" and "New
York Game" - virtually all of baseball's forerunners hailed from the British game of
rounders in which a batter would "round" the bases - or "goals" after having
"struck" the ball which was thrown to him by a "bowler" belonging to the opposite
team. In an interesting and lasting parallel to soccer, baseball success was in
part based on the fact that virtually no equipment or special physical attributes
were necessary to enjoy or excel at the game. Like soccer, baseball thus enjoyed
"democratic access" in that the game was accessible to all and no exotic equipment
or locale was required. (57) Any elongated bat-like object, be it a broomstick,
paddle or rifle, served adequately for hitting the ball. Any vaguely round object-
regardless of exact size and consistency - could serve as a ball. Versions of this
game - involving hi tUng and throwing a ball and running "the bases" - proli ferated
in the northeast of the United States in the 1830s and 1840s.
Like football (as yet undifferentiated into Association and Rugby), the initial
and all-important codification of baseball occurred in the quasi-aristocratic milieu
of educated gentlemen. In 1845. a group of 40 bourgeois male New Yorkers
(professional men, merchants, white collar workers and several "gentlemen") joined
27
together in forming the New York Knickerbockers, the world's first organized
baseball team. (58) Under the leadership of Alexander Cartwright, the Knickerbockers
created the first written rules of baseball. Despite constant changes since, these
rules have provided the main contours of the game to this day: the four-base
diamond; gO-foot base paths; three out, all out; batting in rotation; throwing out
runners or touching them; nine-man teams with each player covering a definite
position; and the location of the pitcher's box in relation to the diamond as a
whole to mention but the most important ones. (5g) Cartwright and his reformers also
specified the weight of the ball as well as the circumference of the bat in order to
provide uniformity for competition. The Knickerbockers played their first game at
Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey against the New York Base Ball Club on June
19, 1846. In that same year, J.C. Thring, one of soccer's major codifiers,
organized the first football team at Cambridge. The baseball game lasted only four
innings, "because by that time the New York Club had scored the 21 'aces' (runs)
necessary to win under the rules". Also an elaborate social affair, the ensuing
dinner assumed almost equal importance to the contest on the field. This tradition
continued until the end of the next decade as other teams joined the Knickerbockers
in New York (notably the Gothams, Eagles and Empires) as well as in Brooklyn (The
Excelsiors, Putnams, Eckfords and Atlantics) and competed in a series of regular
games held on an inter- as well as intra-city basis. In 1858 a team of Manhattan
all-stars first played their Brooklyn counterparts and thereby inaugurated a rivalry'
which was to last exactly one hundred years.
Throughout the 1850s, baseball caught the fancy of people in all walks of life
leading to a proliferation of clubs organized largely along occupational lines.
Policemen, barkeepers, schoolteachers, doctors, lawyers and even clergymen had their
own teams. This rapid "downward" dissemination led to baseball's development first
as "New York's game", then the "Nortneast's game" and ultimately "America's game"
following the conclusion of the Civil War. Since baseball was most popular and its
28
rules most codified in New York, what was known as the "New York game" became
nationally accepted by 1860. As with football in England at that time, the
increased facility and expansion of railroad travel fostered intercity contests.
M.:;)reover, the growing availabi li ty of newspapers, in which the first regular sports
pages appeared, also helped the game's popularity during a critical formative
period.
A fundamental transformation of the game accompanied this geographic and social
expansion. Though still dominated by amateurs, competition became keener. Winning,
which had been accorded only incidental status during baseball's "gentlemen era",
developed into the game's raison d'etre. Gone was the view which allowed each
batter to have "hi s hi til. The central aspect of modern baseball developed, which
dictated a fundamentally and structurally antagonistic relationship between the
pitcher and the batter. The pitcher was no longer to "serve" the batter a
"hittable" ball, but in fact do just the opposite. By trying to make it as
difficult as possible for the batter to hit the ball, pitchers developed fastballs,
curves, sliders and various breaking pitches to confuse, mislead and basically trick
the batter whose repeated failure to "strike" the ball would lead to his forfeiting
his role as a batter. To keep pitchers from throwing balls out of the batters'
reach, the system of "balls" was invented whereby the batter was allowed to advance
to first base in case the pitcher exceeded his permitted allotment of throwing
"faulty" balls. Baseball's anti-English, anti-cricket self-identification increased
with the game's gradual distancing from its amateur" roots. This nativist strain was
also evident in certain rule changes such as the elimination of making an "outU by
catching a batter's hit on one bounce, which was associated with the more serene,
slower and gentlemanly cricket. "Surely, what an Englishman can do, an American is
as capable of improving upon", boasted a sporting paper (60) and thus this "archaic"·
rule was relegated to baseball's "muffins", as amateurs became known in the days of
the game's increased professionalization. Gate receipts developed into an important
29
source of revenue for the clubs,leading to baseball's "enclosure movement". Fences
provided a clear separation between "ball parks" and the outside world. They also
helped separate spectators from players, providing a more orderly spatial
arrangement for a rather unruly crowd. Last, but certainly not least, these
"enclosures" eventually led to the institutionalization of the "home run", one of
baseball's most exciting events.
With victory assuming paramount importance, professionalism rapidly displaced
amateurism during the post-Civil War era. While every team had its share of
"rounders" (baseball's equivalent to football's "ringers") who "revolved" from one
team to the next following the most lucrative offer with reckless abandon of any
team loyalty or moral constraints, in 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings appeared as
the first official all-professional team in baseball, indeed in any modern sport.
Two years later, the first professional league, the National Association of
Professional Base Ball Players, was established. Lasting only four years and
representing 10 teams, this league was dominated by the Red Stockings who had moved
from Cincinnati to Boston. Best described as the most unregulated capitalist phase
of baseball, the charismatic entrepreneur, best represented by Albert Goodwill
Spalding, the pitching star of the Boston Red Stockings, characterized this early
era. Spalding, typical of entrepreneurs in America's burgeoning bourgeois society,
was a missionary, modernizer and moneymaker all rolled into one. By further
standardizing the game's equipment (balls, bats, uniforms) Spalding continued to
develop the modern game of baseball while simultaneously helping his sporting goods
business become a flourishing enterprise. His missionary zeal to spread baseball­
and also the wares of his company - extended beyond the confines of the United
States. Having returned from a triumphant baseball tour of Canada, Spalding
"conceived the idea in 1837 of taking a baseball team over to England to. demonstrate
what the Americans had cooked up out of rounders crossed with cricket. "(St> His
conviction that the superior American game would inevitably catch on with the
30
English during a numbe-r of e-xhibition matche-s playe-d in 1874 prove-d utte-rly
illusory. Base-ball did not e-xcite- the- British who found it dull and hardly a worthy
de-parture- from the- childre-n's game- of rounde-rs. Conve-ying the- unbound optimism of
that spe-cial bre-e-d of Ame-rican e-ntre-pre-ne-ur, Spalding re-maine-d unde-te-rre-d by his
faile-d mission clf 1874 and e-mbarke-d on a se-cond, e-ve-n more- ambitious, journe-y in
1888/89 to bring base-ball to the- re-st of the- world. He- took an all-star te-am calle-d
"All Ame-ricans" to Hawaii, Australia, Egypt, Italy, France- and England. The- re-sults
we-re- e-ve-n more- e-mbarrassing for base-ball than during the- first trip though. Othe-r
than in Australia whe-re- the- game- me-t with a polite- but une-nthusiastic re-ce-ption,
base-ball was gre-e-te-d with a mixture- of disinte-re-st, de-rision and e-ve-n hostility on
the- te-am's othe-r stops. Italian and Fre-nch spe-ctators found the- game- dull and
uninspiring. The- British still dismisse-d it as the- Ame-rican ve-rsion of rounde-rs,
though some- particularly be-ne-vole-nt critics conce-de-d that base-ball was faste-r and
more- scie-ntific.(62) Not until the- mid 1920s did base-ball's prophe-ts once- again
e-mbark on a prose-Iytizing mission which - with the- e-xce-ption of attaining positive­
re-sults in Japan - faile-d abysmally once- again. Thre-e- e-xplanations se-e-m plausible­
for base-ball's failure- to capture- the- imagination of sports fans outside- the- Unite-d
State-s and its imme-diate- ge-ographic orbit. Fi rst, its "Ame-ricanne-ss" not only
re-nde-re-d it incompre-he-nsible- outside- 5ts cultural conte-xt, but also le-nt it a re-al­
albe-i t unjusti fi e-d aura of irumaturi ty and vulgari ty, parti cularly in Bri ti sh
e-ye-s. Se-cond, the- 1888/89 trip occurre-d at a time- whe-n the-se- countrie-s we-re- still
insufficie-ntly bourge-oisifie-d to e-mbrace- a sport on a mass le-ve-l. This had alre-ady
happe-ne-d with base-ball in the- Unite-d State-s and socce-r in Gre-at Britain, but the-se­
othe-r countrie-s we-re- not ye-t re-ady for it. Third, the- 1920s e-xpe-dition faile-d
be-cause socce-r was alre-ady we-II e-nsconce-d as the- pre-mie-r mass sport in the- world,
and "crowde-d out" any se-rious compe-titjon. The- one- notable- e-xce-ption, whe-re- the­
base-ball mission actually proved rathe-I" was Japan.
Re-turning to base-ball's unregulate-d capitalist phase- of the e-arly 1870s, this
31
era witnessed open gambling and drinking among the spectators and players before,
during and after the games. Players, as well as umpires, accepted bribes to "fix"
games in full view of the public. The generally anarchic atmosphere was heightened
by the common practice of "raiding" players. A club had been "raided", if some of
its top players, whom it had barely signed a few weeks before, disappeared from its
roster only to show up in a rival team's uniform the next day. By the mid 1870s all
involved saw that baseball was in dire need of some sort of streamlining. Begun in
1876, this process lasted until 1903 when the present organizational form of major
league baseball was established.
Led by Spalding, baseball's "domestication" commenced with the founding of the
National League in 1876, the world's oldest still functioning professional sports
league, predating the English Football League by twelve years. The National League
was limited to eight clubs. Each was guaranteed "territorial rights.. by being the
sole representative of a city which had at least 75,000 inhabitants. In
addition to this important monopolistic market position, clubs agreed to refrain
from "raiding" each other's players by introducing the so-called "reserve clause
i'

This cartel-like agreement, which lasted nearly one century, gave each club
complete, quasi-feudal control over its players by giving it a continuing option to
rehire them each year and thus prevent them from selling their labor power to the
highest bidder in the free market. (63) Players thus became a team's property, a
serf-like arrangement common to other professional sports with mass appeal, such as
soccer.
With baseball having become America's most popular form of entertainment by the
early 1880s, other entrepreneurs saw the sport as an excellent venue to make money.
Therefore the rival American Association developed in 1882, its eight teams charging
lower admissions than their counterparts in the National League and playing on
Sundays. (64) Periodic trade wars, Qenefitting fans and players, ensued between the
two rival leagues. The result was the eventual demise of the American Association
32
in 1891 and the absorption of four of its teams by the National League, thereafter
comprised of twelve clubs.
In addition to trade wars, another occasional occurrence in the baseball of the
late nineteenth century further strengthens our analogy with feudalism. Just as
there were numerous, destructive, peasant revolts which brought about few tangible
gains f.;:)r the peasants in the Middle Ages, so too did baseball players conduct
periodic costly "wars" against the owners leading only to minor attainments for the
players' cause. Efforts to unionize were invariably defeated and the owner-imposed
"reserve clause" successfully stymied the players' attempts to use their market
power to gain better conditions and, more importantly, to enhance their control over
their own existence in baseball.
After a trade war at the turn of the century, the National League, weakened by
internal strife and the jettisoning of four of its clubs, entered into a peace
agreement with the newly formed American League forming the pinnacle of what became
henceforth the cartel of "Organized Baseball". The peace agreement between the two
leagues led to the establishment of the World Series(65) and an arrangement in which
the sixteen major league teams (eight in each league) represented ten cities. This
format lasted for fifty years until the Boston Braves of the National League
transferred to Milwaukee, thereby sparking a period of relocation and the
establishment of new franchises which continued until the 1970s. Following another
organizational restructuring in the wake of the 1919 "Black Sox" World Series
scandal, "Organized Baseball" was led by a single commissioner beginning in 1920.
The game entered its golden era which not even World War II could interrupt. With
the gradual proliferation of radio broadcasting during the 1920s, the establishment
of the "Yankee dynasty" and the introduction of night games in 1935, baseball
achieved an unchallenged hegemony in American sports. Not until professional
football's meteoric rise in the 1.960s was that hegemony challenged. Baseball's
overwhelming popularity with the American masses proved sufficient to "crowd out"
33
so.:cer "from below" in the Uni ted States.
Conclusion
This paper argues that the particular nature of America's development as "the
first new nati.)n" contributed considerably to the "crowding out" of soccer as one of
this country's major spectator sports. Specifically, it is this essay's contention
that some of the most salient social and historical constellations which led to the
absence of a large working-class party in the United States, making it the world's
only advanced industrial country to suffer from this considerable deficit in the
conduct of its politics, also helped exclude the United States from the world's most
popular mass sport. It was above all America's early and comprehensive
bourgeoisification as myth and reality - which created both "exceptionalisms"
whose legacies are with us to this day.
Just as the literature on why there is no socialism in America mainly focuses
on the period between the Civil War and World War I, so too did I concentrate much
of this paper's empirical material on the pre-1914 era. As such, any serious
concern with either one or both of the two "exceptionalisms" demands by
necessity a historical approach since it was at a certain era of American
development that the overall stage was set. The overall contours of this stage have
by and large remained in tact. Thus, a thorough historical exploration of topics
such as the two American "exceptionalisms" not only helps us understand their
origins but also their continued presence in our world.
This, of course, is not to say that an understanding of the pre-World War I
situation remains sufficient as an explanation for the failure of socialism and/or
soccer in contemporary America. Surely one would have to spend some time analyzing
the phenomena of Stalinism and McCarthyism just to mention perhaps the most
obvious cases - for a proper analysis of the continued absence of a large, mass­
based, left-leaning party in the United States of the 1980s. Similarly, soccer's
34
marginal as a major sport in has probably a
lot to do with its inability to land a contract with
of major with it out" by "from and
fo.;)tball "from turn of fact that
of has willing to such a contract back to an
public in mass sports all world and
with a In that, cannot claim to an

35
Endnot.,
*1 would to thank Oriardfor his in his work
in progress and sharing his extensive knowledge with me. Special thanks once again
to Karen Donfried for and assistance in this
paper.
1. I would like to draw in this context to Paul Hoch's
useful term of "sexual apartheid" denoting the fact that sports often transcend
most rigid lines of (be they class, status, or among
only to women almost It is to note that this
of "sexual is virtually ubiquitous all world.
Paul Hoch, Ripp off Big The Exploitation of Sports by the
(New York: 1972), pp. 147-66.
2. While it is very difficult to obtain data on how many
the World Cups of 1978, 1982 and 1986 can be little doubt that
events have attracted more viewers than anything in
human history. than 2 billion watched the World Cup final in 1978 with
figures being 3 billion and 3.5 billion for in 1982 and 1986
respectively. Over 5 billion the tournament in 1982 and 8
billion followed it four years later. (All these obtained from
of Federation Football Association (FIFA) in
Zurich.) In substantiating point that soccer is far and away the world's most
popular spectator sport, Janet in excellent study on soccer in Brazil
states the following about the final game of the 1978 World Cup: "In words,
half world's people shared a single event. (Emphasis in
original) ••• To put this figure in for two
of Olympic was bi 11 ion in 1976. II
(Chicago: University of Chicago 1983), p. 20.
3. are to· marginality of this on
in The ratings for World Cup finals
thus far by of major
of final Rating
1966 NBC 4.5X 21X
1982 ABC 6.6X 22X
1986 NBC 4.1X 13X
If looks at the NBC data for six of 1986 which
network in addition to final, the
with all the usual and colorful a
2.5X rating and a 9X down as follows:
Rating

1 (Sunday 1.6X 5X
8 (Sunday 1.4X 4X
15 (Sunday 1.8X 6X
21 (Saturday 3.4X llX
22 (Sunday 2.3X 8X
It should added that of at of
soccer's major powerhouses such as Italy Brazil, Argentina, franc.,
Spain, or England. I also at by
sports ESPN. As far to NBC's. Thus,
36
only once - on June 3 - did the rating percentage exceed 1 with the share never
attaining 27..
To put all of this into perspective, I obtained the television figures for the
most recent major events in American sports: Superbowl 1386; World Series 1985,
NCAA basketball final 1986 and NBA championship series 1986. They are as follows:
Event Network Ratinq ~
Superbowl 1986 NBC 48.37. 707.
World Series 1985 ABC 25.37. 397. (averaged over 7 games)
NCAA basketball final 1986 CBS 20.77. 317.
NBA championship series '86 CBS 14.17. 31.17. (averaged over 6 games)
The Nielsen system's two figures stand for the percentage of all T.V. households in
the United States in the case of the "rating", and for the households that have
their television sets switched on at the time of the measurement in the case of the
"share". It is estimated that 99X of all households in the United States have
televisions, which translates into 86 million households.
In order to corroborate my hypothesis that soccer - at least as a spectacle­
continues to remain confined to immigrant subcultures in the United States, I
obtained data from the Spanish International Network (SIN) regarding its viewership
of the World Cup. While the data are not comparable to those listed above since
SIN's programs are not measured by the Nielsen company, it nevertheless seems clear
that among the 4.3 million households receiving SIN World Cup '86 was a popular
event. The opening game attained a 557. rating with the final reaching 65.67.. SIN
constructed a six game aggregate composite to measure its viewership of the World
Cup which yielded some interesting results: the highest rating composite - 77.97.­
was reached by male viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 with the lowest figure for
adults over 18 being the 47.2X attained by women between 25 and 54. The overall
composite for all male viewers over 18 was 677. with the corresponding figure for
women being 45.7X. "Sexual apartheid" still seems to exist among America's SIN
viewers, though the excluded group seems to have participated in surprisingly large
numbers, at least as far as this event from Mexico was concerned.
4. On how the United States has from its beginning as an independent country
exerted a special, though very ambivalent, attraction on European - in this case
particularly German - intellectuals, see Andrei S. Markovits, "On Anti-Americanism
in West Germany" in New German Critique, Number 34 (Winter 1985), pp. 3-27.
America's fascination on European intellectuals such as Tocqueville, Martineau,
Bryce, Weber, Heine among many others is very well known and superbly documented.
5. The original title of Sombart's work as published by the renown house of J.C.B.
Mohr (Paul Siebeck) from Tuebingen in 1906 was Warum gibt es in den Vereinigten
Staate'., keinen Sozialismus? The Englisn translation is: Why is there no Socialism
in the United States?, first published by The Macmillan Press, London and by the
International Arts and Sciences Press of White Plains, New York in 1976. Alas I
would argue that the title continues to remain just as flawed in Europe as it was
when Sombart published his work. By dismissing the Soviet Union's and Eastern
Europe's political economy as having little in common with socialism and by seeing
the welfare states of capitalist Western Europe also falling considerably short of
what socialism is supposed to be, I cannot help but conclude that Sombart's title
continues to convey a flawed image not only of the United States but of all the
major industrial countries in the world.
6. The literature dealing with "American exceptionalism", or at least certain
aspects of it, is vast. H.r. 1 will list only those works which I have found
particularly important in my teaching and research over the years. Louis Hartz, ~
Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since
37
the Revolution (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955); rrederick Jackson Turner, The
rrontier in American History (New York: Holt and Co., 1947); John M. Laslett and
Seymour Martin Lipset (eds.), railure of a Dream? Essays in the History of American
Socialism (Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1974); Seymour Martin Lipset,
Political Man (Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1960); idem, The rirst New
Nation (Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1967); idem, Agrarian Socialism
(Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1968); idem, Revolution and Counterrevolution
(Garden City: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1970); the exchange between Sean Wilentz and
Michael Hanagan in International Labor and Working Class History, Number 26;
Gwendolyn Mink, Old Labor and New Immiarants in American Political Development:
Union, Party. and State 1875-1920 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986); and
Jerome Karabel, "The railure of American Socialism Reconsidered" in The Socialist
Register (1979), pp. 204-227.
7. ror the most thorough account of soccer in the United States see Zander
Hollander (ed.), __ (New York: Everest House
Publishers, 1980).
8. As to soccer's existence in the United States, the two following quotations seem
rather revealing: "Although various attempts have been made, soccer has obstinately
refused to take root in the United States. It has for many years been extensively
played at a minor level, particularly in Philadelphia, where there has long been a
proliferation of leagues, and in St. Louis, where it is very popular in schools,"
[John Arlott (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Sports and Games (London: Oxford
University Press, 1975), p. 381J; and "Soccer is a sport you play, but you don't
watch or follow," [An 11-year old girl on Boston television in the summer of 1986. J
Especially the latter item is highly revealing about soccer's recent fate in the
United States. There is ample evidence that soccer has in fact increased as a
participatory amateur sport since the ignominious demise of the North American
Soccer League's major push to make the game an integral part of major American
professional sports and a lucrative spectacle comparable to soccer's presence in the
rest of the world and that of the "Big Three" (plus hockey, perhaps) in the United
States. Research has corroborated my hypothesis that soccer in the United States is
an important participatory physical activity, especially for the very young, while
at the same time continuing its marginal existence as a general cultural phenomenon
and as a preoccupation in the male population's involvement with spectator sports.
According to data obtained from the United States Soccer rederation, 1.2 million
American youngsters under the age of 19 played soccer on a regular basis in 1985.
20X of this group was female. The youth component of this sport becomes rather
evident when one compares these figures to the 120,0()Q soccer players above 19, a
marked drop from the previously mentioned 1.2 million. In other words, soccer in
the United States is predominantly a game for middle class, suburban boys and girls
who then stop playing it as they grow older, never having seen the game as more than
a pleasant and "egalitarian" form of recreation.) It is striking, however - and in
notable contrast to soccer played virtually everywhere else in the world - that the
percentage of female players over the age of 19 still remains at 18 in the United
States, once again underlining the sport's "nonsexist" presence in this country.
The game, most popular in California and Texas, continues to grow nationally at an
annual rate of 10X for the under 19 group and at 5X for those over 19, with parts of
the discrepancy due to the unavailability of proper facilities for the more advanced
players. Much of the continued growth in both groups occurs on account of the
increasing level of female participation in soccer.
Some interesting results about soccer's particularly "American" existence as a
participatory and relatively gender-neutral activity also emerged an my research on
the game's presence on America's college campuses. According to the National
Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), out of its more than 900 members in 1985,
38
549 soccer teams with 200 colleges fielding women's. For
basketball, the figures were 757 for men and 764 for women respectively. 507
American institutions of higher learning belonging to the NCAA fielded football
teams, an all male sport at the varsity level. It is also interesting to look at
growth as a sport during the late 1970s and early 1980s: Among the
circa 750 NCAA members in 1975/76, 469 schools had football teams and 423
men's teams; by 1980/81 the numbers had in favor of soccer, with 487
colleges playing varsity football while 510 had soccer teams by then.
Under lining 's status as a participat.)ry rather than a sport,
on the college, let alone professional, level (where, of course, it does not exist
in the United States), are the following figures: 36,312,022 people
college football games at all 4-year colleges (not just NCAA members) in the
States during 1985; for men's basketball, the equivalent figure was 30 million for
the 1985/86 season; in contrast, while no for soccer available (in and
of itself a fact), educated do not viewers' at
college soccer games to be above the 700,000 level during the 1985 season. A
European friend of mine once aptly described soccer's predicament in United
States: "As long as young American children continue to collect baseball instead of
soccer cards, the game, which the rest of the world calls football, will never
emerge beyond its historically marginal status in the United States."
9. These countries - with the notable exception of South Africa all have
Sombartian "socialism" in the form of a large, organized labor party which, in
case of Canada, has always been a relatively weak third party on the national
though often dominant in some of that country's Western provinces. As to Australia
and New Zealand, both are governed by labor at
the time of this writing, i.e. the summer of 1986.
10. It is very interesting that if any, countries have like the United States
in developing three major team sports, all of which attained national
significance in their professional version. Even in the United States, however, it
is somewhat erroneous to speak of the "Big Three"· in terms of popularity as
spectator sports. As some of the following figures illustrate, it is quite
that basketball is a distant third to football and baseball in terms of enjoying the
attention of the American public. Tellingly, soccer completely fails to appear in
one of. the surveys and is in a distant fourteenth - and last - place in the other.
To question "What is your favorite sport to watch?" posed to Americans by
the Gallup Sports Audit in July 1985, the answers were as follows:
Football 26X
Baseball 21X
Basketball lOX
Tennis 4X
Golf 3X
Wrestling 3X
Hockey 3X
Boxing 2X
Gymnastics 2X
Auto racing 2X
Ice skating 2X
Touch football 2X
Other . lOX
None 101.
By comparison, in the 1981 Audit, football led baseball by better than a 2-to-l
margin, 38X to 16%, with basketball cited by 9%. Thus, baseball seems to be once
39
again gaining on football with perhaps having a decent shot at reconquering its
position as Americans' most favorite spectator sport which it lost to football
during the 1960s.
Here are some selected national trends of the "Big Three" between 1937­
Gallup's first Sport Audit - and 1981:
Football Baseball Basketball
1981
1972
1960
1948 10%
1937 26% 36% 11%
As to the 1985 Audit, football has a disproportionate appeal to men, of whom
name it as their favorite, compared to 20% of women, among whom it is tied in appeal
with baseball. It also enjoys somewhat greater popularity among younger adults,
persons who attended college, the more affluent, and southerners as well as
westerners. In the Midwest, football and baseball are statistically tied for the
lead, while in the East baseball holds a modest edge. Among blacks, football,
baseball, and basketball have about the same number of partisans, with the latter
far more popular among blacks (20% named it their favorite sport) than with whites

N.B.: Gallup Sports Audit does not differentiate between amateur (e.g. college) and
professional sports. It also does not distinguish between television viewing and
watching sports in person.
Source: George Gallup, The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1985 (Wilmington: Scholarly
Resources Inc., 1986), pp. 223-225.
Here are the replies to the statement: "Let's talk sports. Please tell me
which of these sports you follow" (multiple answers allowed) posed by the Harris
Survey in November 1984:
1984 1992
Pro football 59% 591­
Baseball 55%
College football 46% 511­
College basketball 33% 32%
Pro basketball 31% 35%
Boxing 31% 35%
Tennis 36%
Auto racing 25%
Track and field 231- 27%
Hor se r adng 21% 23%
Bowling 20% 22%
Golf 19% 24%
Hockey 15% 18%
Soccer 11% 15%
Here are the very interesting results to the subsequent question: "If you had
to choose, which of these sports would you say is your favorite?"

1982
Pro football 24% 20%
Baseball 211- 231­
College football 9%
llX
College basketball 77.
Auto racing 67.
40
Boxing 6X 5X
Pro 5X 6X
Bowling 5X 3X
Golf 4X 47.
racing 4X 37.
47. 77.
37. 27.
27. 2X
Track and 17. 37.
It is that without of football, football's
commanding has all but placing two sports
at virtually at top, way of any
it is that within of "Big
pro in popularity by a
small, though significant, margin.
Harris to Public Opinion 1984-1985
York: 1986), p. 517.
11. It of a to why only
hailing from "Big its can
by fact that, following it world's most
popular sport. in
1932, had 133 in 1982, with football
Association (flfA), in 1904, 147 nations (13 nations
than by multisport Olympic
- IOC). pp. 27, 33-34. of
could account - at in part­
for this sport's in contrast. to
parochialism of football and first, just is
with having This that was
to· most it was and
only which has it
than and a good
than football which much Lastly,
football and was as a indoor,
sport. As such, it has had any rivals, which could a major
to its following bUild-up of indoor
during post-World War II in virtually country of first and
Worlds.
12. can no doubt that and scholars of $0­
"capitalist world school substantially to our
of as a within
World Capitalist and Origins of
World-Economy in York: 1974);
and L. Goldfrank of Capitalism: Past and
Hills: Publications, 1979).
13. "A at top of its Sport works hard to
its on NBA, NHL..... , in Boston July 20, 1986.
14. Thus, for Antonin Dvorak's famous symphony in E minor, opus 95 known to
music as "from World", to and something
"typically Am&rican", not Canadian or Australian, to its Europ&an audi&nces. The
was fascinated by the United States as a and multicultural
41
society whose music he experienced as having original elements which could only
enrich that of the "old world". See Friedrich C. Heller, "Antonin Dvorak: 9.
Symphonie 'Aus der neuen Welt' in Playbill of the Salzburger Festspiele 1985 (July
29,1985), n.p.
15. For the best comparative analysis on this issue, demonstrating a more ubiquitous
and serious religious involvement on the part of American population when contrasted
with inhabitants of other advanced capitalist societies, see Walter Dean Burnham's
superb essay: "The 1980 Earthquake: Realignment, Reaction, or What?" in Thomas
Ferguson and Joel Rogers (eds.), The Hidden Election: Politics and Economics in the
1980 Presidential Campaign (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981), pp. 98-140. It is
especially in Appendix A of the article, entitled "Social Stress and Political
Response: Religion and the 1980 Election" (PP. 132-140) that Burnham demonstrates
how in the United States religion is "very important" to a larger percentage of the
population than in countries such as Canada, Italy (still relatively high), the
Benelux countries, Australia, France, the United Kingdom already a good deal lower,
followed by West Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Japan at the bottom.
Moreover, in no other advanced industrial country would it be natural for all
politicians - even those to the left of the country's political center - to close
campaign speeches with "God bless you" as is still - or perhaps again - commonplace
in the United States among Republicans and Democrats alike.
16. The data about the United States being an "armed society" is nothing short of
seriously frightening. According to information obtained from Handgun Control Inc.
in Washington, D.C., there were 102 million firearms in the United States in 1968,
with the quantity increasing to 165 million by 1978 and 240 million by 1985. One
out of every four U.S. households has some sort of firearm, half of which are
loaded. Contrast the 60 million licensed handguns in the United States to the
250,000 licensed pistols and rifles in the United Kingd.om with a population of over
50 million
accidental
(1981 figures).
firearm deaths l
It is
ooks as
not
follows:
surprlslng than that the statistics for
Country Year
USA 1982
Accidental Firearms Death
1,756
Israel 1982
1983
12
25
Japan 1983
1984
10
12
West Germany 1983
1984
28
29
Poland 1983
1984
43
34
Yugoslavia 1982 43
Australia 1982
1983
48
40
Norway 1983 6
Swi tzerl and 1982
1983
5
10
42
1984 6
Source: World Health Organization, World Health Statistics Annual - 1985 (Geneva:
World Health Organization, 1985).
17. Leon Samson, Towards a United Front (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1933).
18. It is interesting to note that Great Britain and the United States dominated the
five Olympic Games held before World War I (1896, 1900, 1904, 1908 and 1912). Among
the total of 211 gold medals awarded in this period (with one event having been
voided out of a possible 212), the United States won 82 and Great Britain 36
bringing their total to 118 which amounted to 55.77. of all the gold medals obtained
by winners in these five Olympics. If one adds the 4 gold medals won by
Australians, 3 by South Africans and 5 by Canadian athletes, the "Anglo-Saxon" total
of 130 gold medals yields 61.37. of all the gold medals awarded in these events. The
Anglo-American dominance becomes even more pronounced when it is contrasted to the
81 gold medal winners hailing from other countries among whom none achieved a
position of clear superiority. The countries belonging to this group of "others"
were Greece, Sweden, France, Cuba, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Germany,
Switzerland, Netherlands and Austria. [See Encyclopedia Americana, Number 20·
(1982); pp. 723b-723r.J This is yet another clear manifestation of the fact that
the invention, development and practice of organized sports were very much the
domain of the most pronouncedly bourgeois societies at the turn of the century, i.e.
the United States and Great Britain.
19. Michael Oriard has superbly captured the essence of this "special relationship"
between Great Britain and the United States, highlighting the American side of the
dilemma: "As former colonials, Americans looked to the mother country for
leadership in athletic matters as surely as they imitated British art, literature,
and other cultural expressions in the nineteenth century. But it is equally
important to note our distinctive adaptations of English sporting customs. The
historical moment of America's colonizing, the rejection of monarchy and aristocracy
for an egalitarian ideal, and the consequent differences in American social,
political, and educational institutions had profound implications for the native
sports culture." Michael Oriard, "In the Land of Merriwell: Fair Play and American
Sports Culture, II Chapter Two of the manuscript of a forthcoming book, p. 87.
20. The word "soccer" is an abbreviation of Association Football. More precisely,
it derives from "association" forming a linguistic parallel to "rugger" which in
turn became the vernacular for Rugby Football. Brian Glanville, certainly among the
foremost soccer experts in the world and one of the game's best chroniclers, tells
this interesting anecdote in connection with the origins of the word "soccer": "Why
soccer, though? (Emphasis in original.) The only plausible theory I have ever come
across is that the credit, or blame, belonged to Charles Wreford-Brown, a famous
center half for Old Carthusians and the Corinthians. Sitting in his rooms in Oxford
University, so it is said, he was visited by a friend who asked him whether he were
going to play 'Rugger' or Rugby football. To this, in a burst of inspiration,
Wreford-Brown replied, 'No: I'm playing soccer,' the world being a corruption of
, Association' in the sport's correct name, Association Football." See Brian
Glanville, A Book of SOccer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979>, pp. 4, 5.
21. Hollander, The American Encyclopedia of Soccer, p. 14.
22. Ibid.
23. Calcio's only major contemporary legacy is, of course, the fact that the game
43
of soccer referred to in most languages by a variant of the English term
"football" - is still called "calcio" in Italy.
24. Glanville, A Book of Soccer, p. 4; and James Walvin, The People's Game: A
Social History of British Football (London: Allen Lane, 1975), p. 14.
25. See chapter one in Walvin's The People's Game entitled "Pre-Industrial
Football", chapter three "The Rise of the Working-Class Football", and chapter five
"England's Most Durable Export".
26. Michael Oriard, "In th.e Land of Merriwell," p. 95.
27. Ibid., p. 90.
28. See Percy M. Young, The History of British Football (London: Stanley Paul,
1968), p. 62.
29. It is in this context that the name of William Webb Ellis means a lot to
American football fans. According to a number of first-rate sources such as The
NFL's Official Encyclopedia History of Professional Football (New York: Macmillan
Publishing, 1977), p. 10; Young, The History of British Football, p. 63; and David
Riesman and Reuel Denney, "Football in America: A Study in Culture Diffusion" in the
American Quarterly, Volume 3, number 4 (Winter 1951), pp. 311, 312, it was in 1823
that William Webb Ellis, a Rugby student, picked up the ball in a match at his
school, tucked it under his arm and ran with it past the goalline. Walvin, in an
interesting departure, claims this whole thing to be untrue and maintains that this
myth was invented by Rugby fans and alumni in 1895 as a post-hoc reassertion that
the game of rugby had originated at their school. (See Walvin, The People's Game,
p. 34.) If Walvin is right, then the origins of American football - via rugby - are
based on an equal myth to that of baseball's supposed invention by Abner Doubleday
in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. It is interesting that baseball's Doubleday­
Cooperstown myth also arose at the end of the nineteenth century, thus paralleling
football's William-Webb-Ellis myth with respect to time of creation.
30. On this point, see Walvin, The People's Game, pp. 42-43; Young, The History of
British Football, pp. 89-92; and Ph. Heineken, Das Fussballspiel. Association (ohne
Aufnahme des Balls): Seine Geschichte, Regeln und Spielweise (Stuttgart: Gustav
Weise Verlag, n.d.), p. 15.
31. Young, The History of British Football, p. 79.
32. Ibid., pp. 93, 94. Among the many commonalities between SOCCer and basketball
- team effort, both centered on collective strategies requiring constant on-the-spot
improvisation as opposed to the execution of clearly defined plans brought in from
the outside of the actual contest a la American football - is most certainly the
fact that both only had 13 rules at their respective founding which to this day
still form the core of each sport's essential existence. It is telling that Dr.
James Naismith, the founder of basketball, used a soccer ball when he invented the
new winter sport in 1892 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Both sports are "simple
games", making them easily understandable and readily transferable across diverse
cultures. Soccer, however, is even lIIore "democratic" than basketball. Not in need
of hoops and indoor arenas, soccer, above all, continues to be played by "normal"
people rather than giant-like athletes who have all but become de rigueur in any
kind of competitive modern basketball. For a nice analysis contrasting basketball
and soccer on the one hand with football and baseball on the other, see Robert W.
Keidel, "'The Soccer-Basketball Connection", Letter to the Editor, The New York
44
July 17, 1986.
33. Young, A History of British Football, p. 113.
34. Walvin, p. 74.
35. again comparisons to - and contrasts to and
football - in 32.
36. Walvin a good analysis of with on part of
English had by working class in
of 1880s.
37. of major until 1939 was famous Corinthians.
in 1883 by N.L. Jackson with of a
which could to uphold of old
at play football, Corinthians of
among whom such
that in 1904 Bury by a of 10-3 following
6-0 victory in that F.A. Cup final. Always arriving in top
hats and to ballparks typically cloth caps,
Corinthians an anachronism of 1860s
and 1870s in a gam. had mass sport par in
world. fact that so popular all world had at
l.ast to do with
Corinthians world, playing against
local clubs and all-star in a numb.r of on
such an impact in Brazil, that a in Sao Paolo was
Corinthians .Sao Paolo to this day of that country's
clubs. Corinthians also in 1911 routing all six
whom This prompted th. old Oxfordian
Wr.ford-Brown - of as
- to his disappointm.nt stagnation he soccer had
in Corinthians in 1939, having
by half a century yet proving to and
important of wcrld's most popular mass sport. On
Corinthians, Walvin, p.' 88; and Young, A History of British
Football, pp. 128-131. On Corinthians' visit to in 1911,
of p. 35.
38. of p. 35.
39. Ibid., p. 21.
40. Ibid., p. 22.
41. It is unclear to why Harvard so steadfastly to play kicking
sticking to Boston game and conv.rting to
rugby following matches with McGill in 1874. might that
anglophilia and strong with imitating Oxford and
as as it to with rugby as
sport for at oldest and most
can no doubt, that, it was Harvard's and
standing among at which the
away from a football, which playing making them
the running Thus, Harvard can be an
45
important role in the development of America's "soccer exceptionalism".
42. Hollander, The American Encyclopedia of Soccer, p. 25.
43. It is faSCinating how the stigma of soccer as being a boring sport has
persisted among Americans. It is equally interesting to observe how Europeans in
turn label baseball, and to a lesser degree even football, as being boring. This
leads me to the conclusion that a lack of understanding and appreciation of any
sport easily renders it "boring" in the eyes of the uninitiated spectator.
44. Hollander, The American Encyclopedia of Soccer, p. 26.
45. The NrL's Encyclopedia History of Professional rootball, p. 10. In a
brilliant application of Max Weber's tripartite scheme of domination - charismatic,
traditional, legal-rational Seymour Martin Lipset shows how the early
institutionalization of George Washington's charisma as this "first new nation's"
first president and foremost military leader helped create a smooth transition to
and a legitimate continuation of the legal-rational form of authority which has
regulated much of the public discourse and behavior in the United States for over
two centuries. See Lipset, The rirst New Nation, pp. 21-26.
46. The NrL's Official Encyclopedia History of Professional rootball, p. 10.
47. Riesman and Denny, "rootball in America," pp. 318, 319; and Oriard, "In the
Land of Merriwell," p. 112.
48. All of the preceding information is deri ved from Riesman and Denny, "rootball
in America"; The NrL's Official Encyclopedia History of Professional rootball; and
John Arlott, The Oxford Companion to Sports and Games, pp. 321-323. It is helpful
for the argument to furnish yet another detail concerning the orlgln of the
necessary yardage rule, since it conveys the difference between the myth of a
leisurely and gentlemanly activity on the one hand, and the reality of a .fiercely­
contested bourgeois game in which winning became all-important on the other. When
Camp and his colleagues devised the American scrimMage out of the British "scrum",
they assumed "that the chivalrous Ivy would gladly give up 'the ball when
they could not gain ground during the scrimmage." (The NrL's Official Encyclopedia
Historyof Professional rootball, p.- 10.) This, however, was clearly not the case.
Worried about being outperformed and outwitted by its opponents, each team chose to
play it safe by simply maintaining possession of the ball as long as possible, which
in effect meant for one-half of the game. Trust in the opponent's honest intentions
and the simple desire just to enjoy playing a good game regardless of winners and
losers so essential, to a quasi-aristocratic, non-competitive, gentlemanly
atmosphere - had all but disappeared in American sports and society, even at the
nation's most elite universities.
49. Surely the involvement of a military man at the highest level of the country's
sports world connoted some affinity between the "scientization" and strict
regulation of sports on the one hand, and very similar values expressed by the
country's military establishment on the other. Tne common denominator between
sports and the military was furnished by the fact that both of them were perceived
by the eli tes as "modern".
SO. Oriard, "In the Land of ,Merriwell, II p. 107.
51. Ibid., p. 114.
46
52. It is worthy mentioning in this context one of early pro football's most
significant legacies to America's sports world. It was in New York City's Madison
Square Garden that a "World Series" was played indoors between two professional
football teams in 1902 and 1903 giving rise to the same - and subsequently much more
popular event in the game of professional baseball. See The Nfl's Official
Encyclopedia History of Professional football, p. 12.
53. In the context of discussing professional football's precursors, The Nfl's
Official Encyclopedia History of Professional football contains a passage which
provides an excellent example of the atmosphere underlying the formation of American
sports (especially football) which - if not explicitly anti-British - was clearly
conduci ve to separate the "new world's" sports from those of the "old";
"Pi ttsburgh' s first athletic clubs were the Allegheny Athletic Association and the
Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Such clubs emerged after the Civil War, according to
researcher Thomas Jable, as an antidote to Victorianism. American men could through
competitive athletics at their clubs 'countermand the Victorian principles of
delicacy and refinement.' football, aggressive and sometimes violent, served this
need especially well; it 'represented a significant triumph of robust manliness over
tender and fragile feminini ty'. II Ibid., p. 11.
54. The link between American football and capitalism has often been made. for a
relatively recent comparison between "democratic" and "capitalist" American football
on the one hand and "socialist" European soccer on the other, see Congressman Jack
Kemp's following views as expressed in liThe old quarterback doesn't approve of that
other football game" in The Boston Globe, Hay 12, 1983: "In debate about a
resolution urging the United States to try to snare the World Cup games, up leaps
this ex-quarterback, a 13-year veteran of pro football, to snipe at soccer. first
he thinks there still may be folks out there who don't understand that what the rest
of the world knows as 'football' is not the football he knows and 10ves••• 'I think
it is important for all those young out there, who some day hope to play real
football, where you throw it and kick it and run with it and put it in your hands, a
distinction should be made that football is democratic capitalism, whereas soccer is
a European socialist ••• ' ••• 'He [Jack Kemp] believes that football is entrepreneurial
capitalism, it has a quarterback, someone who is in charge, while soccer is based
more on the European socialist tradition; no one's in command, it's more of a
sharing, cooperative game.' ••• Jack was speaking 'extemporaneously,' the aide
continued, as if that alone should explain it. ' ~ e tells that all the time to
little league footballers when he travels around the country, and their eyes glaze
over.' ..
55. Harold Seymour, Baseball: The Early Years (New York: Oxford University Press,
1960), pp. 8, 9.
56. Ibid.
57. One of the reasons baseball and soccer developed into "people's sports" has a
lot to do with the accessability of both games. Just as stickball, for example­
availing itself of such urban props as fire hydrants or parked cars in lieu of bases
- formed an integral part of inner city dwelling in the United States, so has soccer
continued as a street game in the cities of Europe and latin America. These
environments have created many a major star for both sports respectively. There is
yet another dimension to the "democratic" component of soccer and baseball. In
noticeable contrast to football and basketball, neither of the two previous sports
necessitates any special physical abilities such as exceptional height or strength.
Indeed, exceptional physical attributes which are the sine qua UQn for any
successful football or basketball player could in fact be detrimental to a career in
47
either baseball or soccer. While excellent athletes, soccer and baseball players
look "normal". In the not so distant past, when both games were a good deal less
"athletic" and "physical" than they are today, one could observe a number of aging
and paunchy players who maintained their careers in baseball or soccer, something
they could never have done in major league football or basketball.
58. Seymour, Baseball: The Early Years, p. 16; and Robert Smith, Illustrated
History of Baseball (New York: Grosset &Dunlap, 1973), pp. 18-22.
59. Seym.:::>ur, Baseball: The Early Years, pp. 19, 20.
60. As quoted in ibid., p. 65.
61. Smith, Illustrated History of Baseball, p. 44. For a detailed biography of
Spalding and his role in baseball, see Peter Levine, A.G. Spalding and the Rise of
Baseball (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).
62. David Q. Voigt, "Reflections on Diamonds: American Baseball and American
Culture" in Journal of Sport History, Volume 1, Number 1 (Spring 1974), pp. 18, 19.
63. On Organized Baseball's "reserve clause" which ruled the game's capital-labor
until the courts struck it down as being unconstitutional in the early
1970s, see John Arlott, The Oxford Companion to Sports, p. 59.
64. Ibid•
..
65. The term "World Series", as previously mentioned adopted by major league
baseball following football's immodest claims in the same direction in 1902 and
1903, is very telling of America's "sport exceptionalism". On the one hand, few
aspects of American culture seem more peculiar, incomprehensible and irritating to
European sports fans than calling the contest between two domestic teams for what
essentially is the United States championship "world series" as in baseball, and­
following that sport "world championship" in both professional football and
basketball. What better reflects America's self-contained, parochial yet at the
same time self-assured, even smug, culture than equating itself with the world, at
least as far as sports are concerned. Contrast the three American "world
championships" to soccer's World Cup where virtually all 144 countries belonging to
FIFA play in lengthy elimination tournaments for the right to participate in the
quadrennial final event still comprising 24 teams. The eventual winner can thus
legitimately bear the title of "world champion" during its four-year incumbency.
World championships in all team sports other than the American "Big Three" are
bestowed upon a country in this world of nation-states, not upon a club. Thus,
world championships, typically, are won by all-star teams whose members are all
citizens of the same state. (It is interesting to note that in the never-ending
quest to make more money, a "World Cup" for clubs rather than countries was
introduced in soccer during the late 1960s, pitting the European club champion
against its Latin American counterpart on a yearly basis. Tellingly, this
tournament has never really captured the imagination of soccer fans on either
continent, remaInIng an incomparably less important event than the "real", i.e.
"inter-national" World Cup.)
And yet, precisely because baseball, football and basketball are America's
games, the arrogance of calling the winner of the American championship "world
champion" enjoys not only a certain. logical consistency but is also supported by
empirical reality. For there can be no doubt that the respective American champions
in football, baseball and basketball are indeed the world's best in their sport by
virtue of being almost the only ones. No other country plays American football,
48
thus making the American superbowl champion the automatic champion of the world. In
baseball, the winner of America"s "world series" surely represents that sport's best
team in the world, though this champion's uncontested position may be a bit more
precarious than football's since baseball is, after all, being played in a number of
Caribbean countries, Mexico and Japan. What would happen if Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants
successfully challenged our "world champion" baseball team, beating it decisively in
a series of games? Would this then expand baseball's world to include Japan? Would
it eventually lead to the "nationalization" of the sport pitting American all-stars
fielding only U.S. citizens as players against the Japanese national team?
As for basketball's "world champion", the claim can again be justi fied. Though
basketball is the second most popular team sport in the world, the professional game
- with some minor exceptions such as the leagues in Italy and Spain - is exclusive
to the United States, thus arguably making the NBA champion the best in the world.
But the potential dilemmas delineated for baseball hold e fortiori for basketball.
What would happen if Dynamo Moscow, Real Madrid or Partisan Belgrade would beat the
NBA champion some day? The fact that this hypothesis is not completely without
precedent is best demonstrated by the bursting of hockey's previously exclusive
North American world, following the first USSR-Canada series in 1972 in which the
Canadians barely prevailed after their smug and self-contained predictions that they
would demolish and humiliate the Soviets. Ever since that series, no Stanley Cup
winner can continue to enjoy its "world championship" without a somewhat fr ightened
glance across the Atlantic.
1
Comment on Andrei Markovits, "The Other 'American Exceptionalism':
Why is there no soccer in the United States?"
Let me start by saying this is a wonderfully conceived piece, a delight
to read, one that unites serious concerns with playful research in the best
sense. I do not wish to contest its major point, namely that each society has
a certain "space" for games, as it does for political parties. Once that
sports space is filled, it is not easy to uproot the established choice, nor
to fit another game in. The American sports space could accommodate two major
outdoor games. Baseball was the first, and certain contingent, historical
factors made American football, not soccer the second. Of course, as Andrei
Markovits recognizes, the problem is also: why is there no baseball in Europe?
But what then would be the parallel question for Sombart's inquiry? Why is
there no Democratic Party in Europe?
My reflections, in fact, are prompted more by the question concerning
Europe than the one concerning the United States. For the inability to export
baseball suggests that more may be at stake than the contingent circumstances
by which a sports space gets filled. The key may be in the way given sports
reflect a national cultural configuration. We can make more progress in
decoding this relationship, I believe, if we recognize that the social-class
categories proposed in the paper are not the most refined possible. The paper
itself provides the clue for its own deconstruction when it refers to American
football ("the running game") as Taylorized. Precisely -- but Taylorism
represented a revolt of the engineering mentality against class
2
categorization. It allegedly transcended classes and was not a simple
imposition of bourgeois norms. Obviously it reinforced capitalist class
hierarchies -- but did so in the name of a technical intelligence that denied
the relevance of social class and insisted on a functional division of labor.
To my mind, the point is that in America baseball is an "artisanal"
sport, football, its Taylorized supplement. As an artisanal support (replete
with craft rituals, premodern methods of production -- i.e. assignments by
position, not by function) baseball could cut across the class hierarchies of
capitalism. The paper might think further about the games themselves. I
bring up several distinctions that Dan White painted out to me many years ago.
The first was the one just mentioned: baseball anchors its men to places,
football has increasingly gone from designation of positions according to
place to designation according to function. The wide receiver has replaced
the left end. What the player does, not where he lines up is crucial.
Football restricts players from certain options: only certain players can
receive passes. It has pushed specialization to the two-platoon system. Its
stadiums are in the suburbs and attract a less raffish, far more managerial
crowd. The general point is that baseball has remained popular because it
appealed to a rural myth of pre-class society. It has overtones of Masonic­
like rites: what outsider could possibly understand the game? But it is a
freemasonry in which all of small-town America could share. The analogue in
American history is more the community of the elect than the working class.
Baseball is the generalized extension of John Winthrop's covenant.
This raises the issue of American exceptionalism in general. As a
comparativist I find the concept over-used. On the one hand, the idea was the
creation of an unsuccessful American Communist Party that needed a social
theory to explain its frustrations; on the other hand, it elaborated that
,
3
Partisan Review-type celebration of American values precisely during the
period of the late 1940's and 1950's, when a generation of academics, neo­
conservative avant la lettre, were renouncing the socialist enthusiasms of
their City College or Columbia youth. American exceptionalism, like Turner's
frontier hypothesis, has been largely a myth. The reason that an American
Socialist Party was weaker than the SPD, but hardly negligible in 1912 -- was
less the absence of a feudal past than the ethnic divisions among recent
immigrants. However, it is all the more fitting that American exceptionalism
is a myth, because I would argue that the importance of baseball is as a
mythic sport. It is the game of the exceptionalism we like to believe we have
enjoyed.
The confirmation of this I find by thinking about the sport that Andrei
Markovits's essay inexplicably does not cover: cricket. Cricket is the
English pre-modern equivalent of baseball. Indeed cricket is even more
archaic in its gentlemanly aspects. Consider the test matches that go on for
days without heed of time, one team's voluntary but strategic decision to
renounce batting, the provision of an indefinite turn at the bat for the
individual, the primitive homogeneity of playing space with batter and pitcher
in the middle of an elliptical field (think of the progression from cricket
oval to asymmetric baseball diamond to football gridiron in this sense), in
its white flannel uniforms. In contrast to soccer, which became big-time in
the industrial north, cricket could unite village communities and serve as
game of an elite and laborers simultaneously. Of laborers, mind you, not of
Labour in its collective sense. It could persist at Oxbridge and in the
country, but it, too, presupposes a pre-industrial community. Indeed its
community can embrace the spectrum from colonial masters to dependent people:
recall C. L. R. James's great cricket memoir, Beyond a Boundary, which shows
4
how cricket as a game might overcome the gap between masters and colonized.
Thus if this essay included cricket, I think, it would find the pre­
industrial/industrial axis more relevant. Of course it has implications about
class: for in a sense baseball and cricket must represent a somewhat utopian
denial of the class divisions of industrial capitalism. But that is precisely
their power. Might one of the reasons that we had no socialism be because we
had baseball instead?
In this regard I find the paper could profitably have taken up another
issue, which is precisely that of what any game or play represents. In a
sense game playing is the activity that the society uses to counterpose
against the workplace, just like the Carnival turns society upside down. It
is, in Victor Turner's sense, a liminal or anti-structural experience: an
anthropological program that might be thought of as the logical playing out,
so to speak, of James' polyvalent title, Beyond a Boundary. Hence a serious
game should not be simply a reflection of the dominant class structure, but a
utopian counter-structure. It incorporates an idealized vision (or
alternative construction) of society's principles of hierarchization, which
still remains in some sort of dialectical relationship to the dominant
structure.
But how then, it will be asked, do the pre-industrial aspects of
baseball retain their vitality even when the forces of production and class
formations have moved way beyond baseball's archaic arrangements? They do so
precisely because they serve as the liminal rite that invokes the community of
an earlier era. In effect, we can envisage ~ sports forms of anti­
structure: the one, football, is contemporary and merely reworks current
social-structural divisions. This will yield a sport that i ~ quite as
ruthless as the social structure it counterposes: indeed the game must take on
5
the function of giving full expression to the agonistic relationships of the
contemporary social order. In this sense Vince Lombardi served as the Carl
Schmitt of the game world.
But the other game, baseball, must evoke a now archaic pre-industrial
social formation to play its anti-structural role. Competition can be less
ruthless since the game embodies an idealized image of now vanished artisanal
or village relationships that were less stratified than industrial capitalism.
Indeed, the effect of temporal displacement is even greater, because baseball
and cricket were codified precisely as the pre-industrial community was
already being displaced. Baseball's heroes are the game equivalent of Hegel's
owl of minerva, rounding the bases of the village green as dusk falls. It is
redolent with nostalgia and probably was from the days of its birth. We
preserve that nostalgia with the mania for statistics and trivia, which now
can be enhanced by the almost infinite storage capacity of the computer that
creates new statistical categories as each man comes to bat. We enhance the
nostalgia further by surrounding the game's origins, as this essay shows, in
myth. So too baseball's current literature will be suffused with an elegiac
quality that purely contemporaneous anti-structure cannot take on: I have not
read The Boys of Summer or Christopher Lehmann-Haupt's recent Me and Dimaggio,
but from all descriptions this is the literature of Heimkehr.
Let me conclude by pOSing a question. If baseball was the anti­
structural game that evoked the pre-industrial order, and football is the
sport that has served as anti-structure for the postwar industrial age the
carnival of managerial capitalism, as Jack Kemp has recognized -- what will be
the sport for what Sabel and Piore have called "the second industrial divide?"
Tennis remains the aristocratic game, the jeu de paume born in the medieval
courts of France, preserved like some scarab of sport. Basketball is an
6
indoor alternative. Ice hockey will continue to preserve some regional winter
outlet. But football already finds the class structure it inverts fading into
some future we only dimly discern. Can it survive as baseball thrived, as the
game image of a mythic past? Can each prior social formation preserve its
respective game inversion as new productive forces come into being? Or does
society have room for only one atavistic game and must the other be crowded
out? It seems to me that the new sports which offer the anti-structural
alternative for the computer era are the individualized, participatory ones:
namely running, aerobics, and fitness. They allow the collectivized, but non-
team, individualized testing that is characteristic of a society built upon
networks and circuit boards.
With these thoughts and queries we turn from Sombart -- who asked
Markovitz's original question -- to Sombart's contemporary, Simmel, who asked
an even more basic question: "How is Society Possible?" He answered by
explaining that it is possible only because its constitutent members are
inside it and outside it simultaneously: their social roles are possible only
insofar as they are granted by individuals who are not totally socialized.
That refusal to be gleichgeschaltet, which ultimately is the foundation of our
sociability, is also expressed in play, as Simmel himself explicitly
recognized. So when we run our 10k races, and when, nurtured by hope and
illusion, we focus on Fenway Park once again, let us recall that we both
affirm sociability and insist on our individuality.
Charles S. Maier
Senior Associate,
Center for European Studies
I
The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies is an interdisciplinary program
organized within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences and designed to promote the
study of Europe. The Center's governing committees represent the major social science
departments at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Since its establishment in 1969, the Center has tried to orient students towards questions
that have been neglected both about past developments in eighteenth- and nineteenth­
century European societies and about the present. The Center's approach is comparative
and interdisciplinary, with a strong emphasis on the historical and cultural sources which
shape a country's political and economic policies and social structures. Major interests of
Center members include elements common to industrial societies: the role of the state in
the political economy of each country, political behavior, social movements, parties and
elections, trade unions, intellectuals, labor markets and the crisis of industrialization,
science policy, and the interconnections between a country's culture and politics.
For a complete list of the Center for European Studies Working Papers and information
about its other publications (German Politics and Society, a journal appearing three times
annually; French Politics and Society, a quarterly journal; and the East European Working
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