Thursday, June 24, 2010

White Flight in Short Pants

In the middle of FIFA's World Cup, Steve Sailer has a little fun looking at team compositions.
I’ve been following the World Cup since Pelé went out with a bang in 1970. Over the decades, the rhetoric that quadrennially accompanies the soccer championship has grown ever more strident in its insistence that the reason most Americans find soccer less than galvanizing as a spectator sport is that they … fear diversity!
Personally, I am enjoying this World Cup (to a degree of near fanaticism), but the game itself leaves much to be desired: not so much the amount of scoring, but the arbitrariness of much of it, largely a result of the impossibility of actually enforcing the written rules consistently, with the relatively small squad of officials left to themselves on the field; today this makes the sport unique.
In reality, soccer, both at the international superstar level and at the park league level in America, is whiter than football, basketball, or baseball.
Superficially, I'd have guessed it was similar to baseball, but don't really watch baseball until the last couple of games of the World Series, if that.
For example, the last World Cup was won by Italy’s all white team. In America, this would be considered scandalous.
Wait until the various human rights commissions here discover the work they could do in hockey and lacrosse!!
Let’s look at ESPN’s list from earlier this year of the “Top 50 players of the World Cup.” The five best players in the world -- Lionel Messi of Argentina (who is of Italian descent), Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal (a Tim Tebow-lookalike), Wayne Rooney of England, Kaka of Brazil (who is from an upper middle-class family), and Xavi of Spain --are white.
Out of the top 10, eight are white and two from West Africa. Out of the top 50, the proportions look similar. Judging from their pictures, I would say 10 are black, one is mostly white but clearly part black, and the other 39 look more or less white. None of the top 50 are East Asian or South Asian, and I don’t see any that are as mestizo-looking as, say, Diego Maradona, the star of the 1986 World Cup.
In contrast, only one American-born white guy has been selected to the NBA All Star game in the last half dozen years. Most of the prestige positions in the NFL other than quarterback are dominated by blacks.
On to American impacts:
Whiteness is even more predominant in American soccer participation rates. From the late 1960s onward, white middle-class parents started to notice that soccer was a fine sport for their children to play, especially now that football and basketball were coming to be dominated at the highest levels by, well, by … uh, you know … And at this point countless conversations I’ve had over the years with very nice liberal white soccer parents typically break down into uncomfortable gesticulations as they try to not quite come out and say that soccer in America has been, to a large degree, White Flight in Short Pants.
There follows a very nice analysis of this by proxy, using the place of placekickers in the NFL. And then a nice one tying the rules (not any of the ones that bother me) to the discouragement of West African talent.
And a nice summary:
So, FIFA could change the rules to make the game more appealing to American spectators, which would benefit black athletes. But it doesn’t want to. It thinks soccer is fine the way it is, as a white-dominated sport.
The rest of the world seems to agree.
I've heard the wonderful doubly racist 'analysis' during this year's coverage that the reason the African teams are doing relatively poorly is that they are coached by Europeans, who impose discipline and suppress the happy-go-lucky African style of play inherent in their culture. I think Steve's analysis explains the limitations of the African teams rather better.


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