In the book, How Soccer Explains the World, what are the four main ideas Foer is trying to make in Chapter 10, "How Soccer Explains the American Culture Wars?"
In Chapter 10 of How Soccer Explains the World, Foer does not actually list four main points that he is trying to make. It is necessary to read the chapter and try to find four major points. Here are the four main ideas that I find:
- Soccer rose to popularity in the US because it was seen as a kinder and gentler sport. Foer explains that it was not as violent as football, that it did not provide the opportunity to have your ego crushed because you struck out like baseball (fewer times when the focus is on one person) and it was not associated with the ghetto, like basketball. This made it, in a sense, the sport of the counterculture.
- Soccer has a different class structure in the US than in the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, it is the game of the poor. In the US, it is (outside of Latin American immigrant communities) a game of the rich.
- Attitudes about soccer are tied to attitudes about globalization and the outside world. People who hate soccer hate it because it is identified with Europe and, in their minds, European values. By contrast, people who like soccer feel that liking it shows that they are more sophisticated than other Americans.
- Finally, soccer shows that globalization does not consist of American culture taking over every other country. Many people see the US as the “aggressor” in globalization, with “McDonalds and Baywatch” being forced “down the throats” of other countries (quotes from p. 247). But soccer shows that the US can be affected too. Major companies are not trying to sell American values. They are trying to sell whatever they can sell, and if that happens to push American culture to change, it is fine with them. This means that American culture can be changed by globalization just like other cultures can.
These are what I see as the main points of Chapter 10 of Foer's book.
How Soccer Explains the World was published in 2004, and the landscape of soccer in the United States has changed considerably since then. In particular, the game has become far more popular as a spectator sport. But Foer's arguments still fit into his overall take on globalization, which he views as a multifaceted phenomenon.
The first argument is that for many baby boomer parents, soccer was an alternative to other sports like: American football, which man saw as too violent; baseball, which created too many opportunities for failure; and basketball, which had, according to Foer, the "taint of the ghetto." Soccer was embraced by liberal, upper-middle class Americans, and it quickly came to "represent the fundamental tenets of yuppie parenting." This makes it very different from the rest of the world, where soccer is essentially a working-class game.
This made soccer a very divisive sport in the United States. Many Americans saw it as a negation of traditional American values, or they resented it for the "white flight" aspect of its popularity. But above all, Foer argues, Americans feared the effects of globalization, and soccer represents the vanguard of the forces of this process. What is interesting, however, is that soccer represents globalization in reverse: the penetration of American culture by a global phenomenon, not the other way around.
These points are all to say that in the United States the game was closely tied to a broader "culture war," one with generational, racial, class, and global dimensions.