The best books on Global Sport

Tell me about your Publication, Soccernomics, by Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper.

I enjoy this book as it is breezily written and the authors clearly display a good mastery of the subject. The publication discusses’soccer’, which of course is that the shortened Oxbridge term for association football emanating from the 1860s. Contrary to the frequent view in Britain and Europe this term includes prima facie evidence of yet another American bastardisation of a European cultural icon, the expression isn’t an American invention whatsoever but British slang.
Soccernomics is the very insightful book about the globalisation of the game and its current condition. Simon Kuper writes for The Financial Times and is a really accomplished journalist on many subjects, including sports. What the novel picks up on is that England generally consistently fails in punishment shoot-outs, whereas countries like Germany generally win in similar scenarios, besides in 1976 when Uli Hoeness — into his everlasting shame — delivered his possibly game-deciding shot over the crossbar, thus making Germany the loser to Czechoslovakia in the European Nations’ Championship final in Yugoslavia.
I’m less impressed with the authors’ trying to explain this — and similar — oddities of the game, but I am completely aware that they’re not trying to do so in a serious manner but instead choose to utilize these terrific tidbits to catch the reader’s attention to their larger project, which is to explain why and how football has become far and away the world’s most important game. The writers, in my opinion, rightly tie the match’s current global standing to its development at the latter half of the 19th century.
They also examine how other countries that in the moment still seem peripheral to the game might well become central to its future. It is in this circumstance that they offer a fine analysis of soccer’s standing in the USA. The writers are among a really small number of European football experts who truly understand the game’s different gestalt in America. Furthermore, they genuinely engage in American soccer on its own terms, which they do not deride as yet another American abomination or a deformation of a European cultural treasure, but love fully as a different social construct and cultural manifestation of this game’s being in football-traditional areas like Europe and Latin America. The writers gained my respect and admiration for their considerate contrasting of American football to English or European soccer without letting their normative orientation colour their investigations.

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