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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Soccer-Liking Lawprof

I’m a fairly big sports fan, and my enthusiasm includes (though is by no means limited to) serious appreciation for soccer on both the club and international levels. Liking soccer is a bit of a rogue taste in the U.S., where all manner of critics from reasonably smart essayists like Chuck Klosterman to brain-dead blowhards like Jim Rome are eager to go on at tiresome length about why the sport is evil and awful. (The latter has always puzzled me. There are sports I find insufferable, like golf, but I can’t imagine wasting any time obsessing or pontificating about why others don't share my distaste for it. Anyway.)

Because a preference for soccer is a tad iconoclastic, when the U.S. soccer fan runs into a kindred spirit, there’s always a distinctive bond produced by discovering a rare commonality (not unlike, one imagines, what two Kansas City Royals fans would experience if they ran into each other in Seattle). And since I’ve entered the law-teaching world, I’ve been interested to see what the overlap is between the two populations. I’ve been fortunate to have good soccer conversations with lawprofs David Schleicher, William Birdthistle, Graeme Dinwoodie, and Mike Madison (who has done some really good soccer writing over at Madisonian), but I’m sure there are others out there. So in the great Prawfs info-aggregation tradition, identify yourselves, soccer-liking lawprofs! This is mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, but may have functional value as well. If there’s ever a Champions League or World Cup game going on during a conference, having a list will help organize a group outing for game-watching purposes.

Posted by Dave_Fagundes on June 18, 2009 at 05:25 PM in Sports | Permalink


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Now that the US beat Spain in the Confederations Cup, they get to call the sport whatever they like for at least a year... Congrats!

Posted by: Martinned | Jun 24, 2009 6:55:35 PM

I didn't mean to express in this post that I don't understand why soccer is relatively unpopular in the U.S. I think it's little more than cultural difference mixed with some good old American exceptionalism. I was interested to find when traveling in Europe that many folks over there made the same criticism of our version of football that we invariably hear about soccer over here: too boring and slow-moving (because of the time outs, constant whistles, etc.).

A lot of people seem to be wound up about particular uses of terminology in the sport, but these concerns have never interested me much. I find myself saying "nothing" and "nil" interchangeably when talking about scores and don't feel strongly about either. The reason the term "soccer" prevails in the U.S. is that we have our own native version of football that needs to be distinguished--which explains why the term "soccer" is popular in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Ireland.

Posted by: Dave | Jun 22, 2009 9:15:43 PM

I can't understand why people in the US, unlike virtually the entire rest of the world, think it's such a bad sport

Because it requires too much concentration. Real American sports stop and start every 30 seconds or so, as a concession to the average viewer. (Which is why only Canadians watch Ice Hockey.)

...and why, even if people do, they feel the need to continually rant on about it.

That's the fun of a blog like Volokh: you get to unwind by ranting about something that otherwise would never get you excited. In other words, it's the fun of the argument (or the snark), rather than any actual concern for the question at hand.

P.S. No offence, but as long as someone still calls the sport "soccer", I have serious difficulty accepting that person as a bona fides football fan.

Posted by: Martinned | Jun 22, 2009 10:50:49 AM

David Post (Temple) is a big soccer fan and posted quite often about it at the Volokh Conspiracy during the last World Cup and Euro 2008. The comments to his posts are priceless. He can't post anything about soccer without it turning into a thread about why soccer is a stupid sport. I find this hilarious - I can't understand why people in the US, unlike virtually the entire rest of the world, think it's such a bad sport and why, even if people do, they feel the need to continually rant on about it.

Posted by: DNJ | Jun 22, 2009 4:51:17 AM

A still-beaming Barca fan checking in. I also pull for the USMNT. And as someone else who grew up in Washington state playing soccer, I'm thrilled the Sounders are back.

Posted by: Nathan Cortez | Jun 19, 2009 12:50:55 PM

I'm in too. Grew up in Seattle, which was largely ahead of the soccer curve in the rest of the country (in large part because you can play in the rain), and am especially enjoying the return of my beloved Sounders. Played in college, and still play 3x/week (and will continue to do so as long as my knees can take it). Thanks for asking. . . . .

Posted by: Helen Norton | Jun 19, 2009 12:12:08 PM

I hear you, Ben. The worst thing about the Confeds Cup is that it means either (1) the MNT is playing their best and still getting crushed by elite competition; or (2) the MNT has the capacity to compete better against top teams but lacks the heart to put out the necessary effort. Either way it's a downer.

Also, offline responses have apprised me that Fred Yen and Brett Frischmann are fans of the game as well (interestingly robust overlap between property/IP folks and soccer fans--but this could just be that they're folks I'm more likely to meet).

Posted by: Dave | Jun 19, 2009 11:24:48 AM

I'm a passionate, and currently depressed, fan of the USMNT.

Posted by: Ben Barros | Jun 19, 2009 9:50:02 AM

I've been passionate about soccer ever since spending a year in Germany as an undergrad. I have noticed more of my students wearing soccer shirts these days, albeit Chelsea or Barcelona rather than the KC Wizards. I think your idea of gathering to watch matches during conferences is great, although I don't think I would ever SCHEDULE a conference visit during the World Cup!

Posted by: Jerry Anderson | Jun 18, 2009 6:45:38 PM

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