June 15, 2010 – 5:13 pm

When Glenn Beck puts down soccer and the World Cup, it only shows the conservative radio and TV host as a poor sport who hates losing. As sports commentator Dave Zirin points out, the USA tend to get their asses handed to them each and every World Cup.

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 insane.

“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, “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 tend 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.

Note: Dave Zirin is the author of the forthcoming “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner). Receive his column every week by emailing [email protected] Contact him at [email protected]


  2. Pay no mind to Glenn Beck–he is an idiot–i’m sorry i even read his ridiculous comments.

    (though i must admit, with the world in such a sorry state of affairs, too much attention is paid to sports and not to solving more pressing issues: sports is a diversion/distraction that has taken too much of our attention. Maybe because it breeds nationalism so much.)

    By dandor on Jun 15, 2010

  3. Why do people listen to this fatass ex-alcoholic, ex-cocaine addict fried brain chickenshit wimp(the ex- is in serious doubt)and god know what else he did/still does? May he rot in hell one day.

    By vittorio on Jun 16, 2010

  4. Beck’s a fat turd, stinky and unwanted.

    By giacomo on Jun 16, 2010

  5. Oh yeah…Beck’s an ugly dumbhead too!

    -typical.If I can’t crticize intelligently I’ll name call.
    Beck’s right-soccer just isn’t that popular here.Case closed.

    By jim on Jun 17, 2010

  6. Soccer is very popular in the USA. It’s just bigotted and racist rightwingers don’t like it if it ain’t American. Dud, I can critize intelligently, but asshole like Beck, Limbaugh and etc. don’t deserve it.

    By giacomo on Jun 17, 2010

  7. Nope.Sorry. It really isn’t popular here in The U.S. as much as you’d like to think it.Nothing bigotted or racist there either.Beck,Limbaugh etc are just assholes to those that don’t understand them,lol

    By jim on Jun 17, 2010

  8. It sure is popular in the US, even among whites. White kids all over the country play and follow it faithfully. Thing is, it gets drummed out of us over time as we grow up and are instructed that american football’s the true macho game. “We” means me too! I played for years, 30 years ago around junior high.

    So now that brown folk are importing it to the US in ever increasing numbers, maybe the current generation of young US soccer fans will hold onto its love of the game in the face of old timers and cultural crybabies like Beck who deny it and/or just don’t get it.

    By Mike Venture on Jun 17, 2010

  9. Well said Mike. It’s shame that while the rest of the world embraces and love many American sports, basketball, baseball and yes American football, small minded media blast soccer.
    Like music, sports can bring the world together.
    Jim, peace to you. Soccer will probably never be as big as American football (which I love & played in school), soccer’s popularity will continue to grow here among the people. And that’s a good thing.

    By giacomo on Jun 17, 2010

  10. -I hear ya Jim.It’s just that bleeding heart liberals would like to believe that something like this game would actually bring folk together.We got football and baseball and nothing beats them in this country

    By mike on Jun 18, 2010

  11. I take back every thing I said

    By Mike Venture on Jun 19, 2010

  12. Gosh giacomo and vittorio, I liked Glenn Beck, listened to him, respected his views (since he backs them up with facts)and found him to be very intelligent but since you called him all those nasty names you won me over. NOT! Is that all you got? Seriously, don’t ever try to confuse a lib with the facts. It freaks them out.

    By Ester on Jun 20, 2010

  13. Ah Ester, drinking the kool-aid you are! Glenn Beck and facts and truth do not mix at all.His brains have fried from all those abusing booze & cocaine. He is a great war monger, but too chickenshit to have served in the military. Most liberals have, I have and proud of it.
    You hate it when a liberal tells of the real facts and you know to be, but love to lie through your ass.
    Hey, keep fooling yourself, who in the fack cares.

    By giacomo on Jun 20, 2010

  14. You got that right Ester.Libtards need to put the crack pipe down and let the cobwebs clear to even begin to study what Glenn is even talking about-one sure can’t get any facts from olberman,maddow,etc.and this is reflected in Fox’s ratings.People-True Americans want truth not whatever liberal media deems that might be.
    Liberals hate facts-they would rather obfuscate and otherwise change the subject.Conservateives are like the adults and libes the red headed stepchildren of this country.One of these days they’ll stop lying thrugh their collectives asses,lol

    By jim on Jun 20, 2010

  15. Hmm… I suppose you believe Beck’s assertion of the Fema concentration camps?

    By giacomo on Jun 21, 2010

  16. Hmmm…I suppose you believe Bergen Belsen was a hoax?

    By mike on Jun 22, 2010

  17. No. There’s proof of it, mike. The holocaust was real, Nazi concentration camps were real. I went to Auschwitz when I stationed in Germany in 1973 and it was something I’ll never forget. How can any one do what they did other human beings. My father and uncles fought WWII in Europe so these horribles things never happen again.

    By giacomo on Jun 22, 2010

  18. Why is there a quote attributed to me here retracting my original post?! I don’t remember writing to take back what I said. I wouldn’t have posted something I didn’t believe, and if my post were proven wrong, I would at least admit it grammatically correctly. That is unless I hit send inadvertantly and forgot to post the rest of my thought. LOL But I don’t remember even doing that!

    By Mike Venture on Jun 24, 2010

  19. I’m sorry…forget what I said 3 days ago hence.The synapses weren’t EVEN working when I originally posted.I believe most everything anyone tells me-at least,that’s what my brother Ad says.

    Just forget I said anything and forgive my gramatically incorrect ramblings-I mis-spoke.

    Now…what were we talking about?

    By Mike Venture on Jun 27, 2010

  20. Hold on…

    I misspelled ‘grammatically’


    By Mike Venture on Jun 27, 2010

  21. Dear Mr. Venture,

    Personally I’m less concerned about what you wrote than to read that you’re still posting things to this thread (and others?) using the same name as I!

    By Mike Venture on Jul 2, 2010

  22. To all concerned,

    My brother will no longer be allowed access to a computer and this is a perfect example of what can and does happen when one is present.He is under psychiatric care and otherwise away at the moment on a little vacation.

    By Ad Venture on Jul 4, 2010

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