Glenn Beck's Blues: Why the Far Right Hates Soccer

Every World Cup, it arrives like clockwork. As sure as the ultimate
soccer spectacle brings guaranteed adrenaline and agony to fans across
the United States, it also drives the right-wing noise machine utterly

"It doesn't matter how you try to sell it to us,"yipped the Prom King of new right,
Glenn Beck. "It doesn't matter how many celebrities you get, it
doesn't matter how many bars open early, it doesn't matter how many beer
commercials they run, we don't want the World Cup, we don't like the
World Cup, we don't like soccer, we want nothing to do with it."

Beck's wingnut
godfather, G. Gordon Liddy also said
on his radio program

'Whatever happened to American exceptionalism? This game ...
originated with the South American Indians and instead of a ball, they
used to use the head, the decapitated head, of an enemy warrior."

Dear Lord, where do we begin? First of all, I always find it
amusing when folks like Beck say, "We don't like soccer" when it is by
far the most popular youth sport in the United States. It's like saying,
"You know what else American kids hate? Ice cream!" Young people love
soccer not because of some kind of commie-nazi plot conjured by Saul
Alinsky to sap us of our precious juices, but because it's - heaven
forefend - fun.

Among adults, the sport is also growing because people from Latin
America, Africa, and the West Indies have brought their love of the
beautiful game to an increasingly multicultural United States. As sports
journalist Simon Kuper wrote very adroitly in his book Soccer
Against the Enemy
[3], "When
we say Americans don't play soccer we are thinking of the big white
people who live in the suburbs. Tens of millions of Hispanic Americans
[and other nationalities] do play, and watch and read about soccer." In
other words, Beck rejects soccer because his idealized "real America" -
in all its monochromatic glory - rejects it as well. To be clear, I
know a lot of folks who can't stand soccer. It's simply a matter of
taste. But for Beck it's a lot more than, "Gee. It's kind of boring."
Instead it's, "Look out whitey! Felipe Melo's gonna get your mama!"

As for Liddy, let's be clear. There is not in fact hard
anthropological evidence that early soccer games were played with a
human head. Interestingly, though, there is an oft-told legend that the
sport took root in England in the 8th century because the King's army
playfully kicked around the detached cranium of the conquered Prince of
Denmark. Notice that this tall-tale is about Europe not "South American
Indians". I think we're seeing a theme here.

But maybe this isn't just sports as avatar for their racism and
imperial arrogance. Maybe their hysteria lies in something far more
shallow. Maybe the real reason they lose their collective minds is
simply because the USA tends to get their asses handed to them each and
every World Cup. After all, as G. Gordon asked, "Whatever happened to
American exceptionalism?" When it comes to the World Cup, the
exceptional is found elsewhere. Could Beck, Liddy, and company just have
soccer-envy? Is it possible that if the USA was favored to win the
World Cup, Beck himself would be in the streets with his own solid gold
vuvuzela? I feel that to ask the question is to answer it. In fact, this
is as good a reason as any to hope for a mighty run by the US team. It
would be high comedy to see Beck and Friends caught in a vice between
their patriotic fervor and their nativist fear.

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