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Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism. Paperback – May 1, 2001
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"The text is well referenced, historically grounded, and offers excellent insight into US soccer and its past, present, and future potential as a major sport. Highly recommended for both the general population and those interested in sports studies and sociology of sport."--Choice
"This is the first adequate sociocultural history of the sport in the United States. . . . Sports sociologists will look to this book for soccer material and also for the author's fresh conceptualization of sports culture. Sociologists with more general interests in culture and institutional analysis might also find it useful and informative as a case study."--John Wilson, American Journal of Sociology
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The main meat of the book lies in its center section, which goes into a historical account of the birth and development of the "big three & 1/2" sports in America (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). The authors show how each sport had a "window of opportunity" to expand within the backdrop of America's cultural and financial explosion from apx. the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the Great Depression. Here, the book exposes something probably unknown today: that soccer had the opportunity to take part in this development in the 1920s, but due to politicing and in-fighting, was not able to keep a single, solid, professional league together, choosing to split instead into smaller, weaker, more insignifcant groups that could not sustain themselves long enough to gain a fan base and a presence in the American sports scene. Meanwhile, the "big sports" ended up a societal "necessity" in the 1930s: spectator-sports and movies boomed, giving people the best bang for their diminished bucks.
The later sections of the book explain how soccer may have been granted a new "window" due to (1) the World Cup in the U.S.Read more ›
Andy Markovits dispenses in short order with all the cliches you've heard the sports pundits offer up by way of "explanation" for why soccer has not (yet) caught on in the U.S.: It's NOT because Americans are impatient with low-scoring games, or because kicking a ball down a field lacks strategy or skill, or because there's something about soccer that's incompatible with the American "character."
The real explanation has to do with the history of mass sports -- how marketers in both Europe and America took games played by gentlemen on college campuses or in local amateur clubs and turned them into popular, professional competition for paying (and, since television, watching) fans. It's not the "soccer moms" and Little League dads who determine whether a sport takes off: it's the franchises who organize consumption for the couch potatoes.
Markovits shows how the market for mass sports was already carved up among baseball, American football, and basketball when soccer tried to take root here. He doesn't downplay the growth areas that do exist for soccer in the U.S. -- in women's competition (where the U.S. leads), in colleges, and among new immigrants. But he's realistic about what it would take (such as a US team making it to the finals in a World Cup match) for soccer to break into America's already crowded "sports space."
One of the great things about this book is the author's enthuasiasm for ALL manner of sports.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pretty good. If you're a fan of soccer and social sciences, you'll probably appreciate this book. Some will probably find parts of it a little dense though.Published on August 11, 2014 by Blaine Mustoe
Offside, by Andrei Markovits and Steven Hellerman, is a very interesting, if somewhat dry read. It is not a narrative, and almost an academic work, filled with endnotes, with all... Read morePublished on May 10, 2010 by Steven Wilson
Shortly after moving to Arizona as a fifth grader, I was introduced to soccer for the first time by a group of overzealous classmates. Read morePublished on February 16, 2009 by Scott Cederbaum
As a soccer standout in my youth (I played goalie and fullback), I relished weekends and flinging my body at the ball, sliding in the mud and generally abusing my body to prevent... Read morePublished on February 18, 2008 by A Reader
In addition to being a fan of most pro sports, I also happen to volunteer in my local youth soccer league. I have seen the sport grow and, in a way, start to decline. Read morePublished on May 9, 2007 by Lifesamystery
This is a sociological study aimed to explain why ' soccer'(
To the rest of the world 'football') has not become one of the major American sports. Read more
I learned a lot about sports (not just soccer) and how culture works in general from this excellent and enjoyable book. Read morePublished on March 12, 2005 by Pomona Queen
This work sheds new light on a very fascinating question. In fact, this book is the basis for some of my own research within the field. Read morePublished on March 8, 2005 by Ira M. Utay