Assignment post for APSEM assignments 1 & 2 – UPDATED

Post your response to Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World as a comment below. To review the assignment, look at the post below. Make sure you leave your real name as the poster of the comment.

UPDATE:

Great writing, everyone – your responses to the book really impressed me! Don’t forget to leave a comment/response to two of your classmate’s essays by the 23rd.

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16 thoughts on “Assignment post for APSEM assignments 1 & 2 – UPDATED

  1. It was difficult for me to choose one chapter of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World because I found many of them fascinating. The chapter that explored Judaism’s connection to clubs in England, the Netherlands and Hungary enlightened my own knowledge of a club like Tottenham’s connection to London’s Jewish population while the opening chapter on Serbia’s gangsters and secret police’s running of a paramilitary force out of their soccer clubs demonstrated the dark intersection of soccer and nationalism. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at soccer the same way now, and if anything, I’m going to be very careful about what clubs I choose to root for. I don’t want to inadvertently cheer for a team that has connections to fascism or xenophobia, for example.

    The chapter “How Soccer Explains the Discrete Charm of Bourgeois Nationalism” excited me, however, because my first introduction to the idea that soccer clubs have these backgrounds steeped in history came from my time in Spain.

    In this chapter Foer uses political and historical lenses to analyze soccer’s place in Spain’s history, focusing mostly on Barcelona the city and its flagship team, FC Barcelona. Barcelona is one of the few globally successful soccer clubs with leftist sentiments, a representation of the underdog valiantly doing battle against symbols of fascism like Real Madrid, the favorite team of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

    The club’s own history seems to boost Foer’s idea that soccer can explain the international spreading of business and commerce (also known as globalization). After all, FC Barcelona, a symbol of the region’s fight to be independent from the rest of Spain, was actually founded by a Swiss businessman named Hans Kamper, who changed his name to the more Catalan Joan Gamper (Foer 200).

    Gamper founded the club because he wanted to celebrate that region of Spain’s independent spirit from the rest of the country. Catalonia, the region of Spain that contains Barcelona, houses fierce anti-Spain sentiments, and even does its best to speak a different language (Catalan) than the rest of the country. Even today there are still strong movements to make that portion of Spain its own independent country.

    As much as Foer’s book tries to explain globalization through soccer, I think the book works much better as a history book. Maybe you all caught something that I missed, but I don’t think the chapter on Barcelona and Spain offered much information about why Barcelona has become a globally recognized brand, or how Barcelona’s political history has helped spread soccer or vice-versa, but the chapter does do a good idea of showing the weird hypocrisies and nuances that appear in history. For example, despite FC Barcelona’s role as an anti-Fascist force inside Franco’s Spain, the team was eventually run by Franco supporters and “Barca supporters…never seriously objected to the Franco apologists who ruled the club’s boardroom” (205). History is full of these under-reported paradoxes.

    The chapter does get into industry and industrialization a bit, explaining that Barcelona (the city) has cosmopolitan and industrial roots which clash with the rest of Spain’s farming/agrarian economy but because Catalonians came from this kind of business environment, deal-making and commerce came above all else, including nationalism (206). With this cultural lens in mind, Foer argues that Catalonians channeled their anti-Fascist/anti-Franco rage through soccer, which protected Franco’s regime from an actual revolution from Catalonia. If Franco wanted to crush any anti-Franco sentiment, why would Franco have let Barcelona keep the team in the first place? “Its purpose was clear enough,” Foer writes about the soccer team in the years after Franco came to power, “to let the Catalan people channel their political energies into a harmless pastime” (205). After all, Foer notes, the anti-Fascist terrorism and bombings that plagued Spain for decades came from other areas of the country, but not the part that had the most anti-Fascist and anti-Franco soccer club.

    The chapter succeeds in explaining how soccer has defined Spain’s recent cultural and political history, though I’m not sure it makes a larger point about globalization in general. However, if the book were to be written today, with FC Barcelona now one of the wealthiest and most successful clubs in the world today, I think Foer could’ve branched out to talk more about globalization in this chapter than he did when the book came out in 2004.

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    • Soccer really is a sport that almost ever country enjoys. This book “How Soccer Explains the World” by Franklin Foer, shows the many different ways as to how soccer truly effects the world. The book starts by explaining the fact that soccer is one of the most beloved and most played sports in all the world except maybe the United States. But the chapter that I found the most interesting was the first chapter involving crime and gangs. It speaks out on the violence and murders etc that goes on in some of the locations around the world where soccer is played starting with Serbia.

      Continuing off from the latter, the most beloved soccer team in Serbia known as Red Star Belgrade has the most thuggish fans who support them and apparently, it doesn’t get worse than this group of fans. To me, this displays two lenses and how soccer’s role displays a particular region. It shows Cultural and Social and he used these in a few ways. One way is the fact that he brings up the fact that these fans are so thuggish in the first place. This is most likely something that Franklin brings up when writing this to show the Cultural and Social ways of Serbia. Because of how violet the fans and the location of Serbia is, they even entered a bloody civil war with many gang thugs and such. This was simply because of how rowdy and violent the fans are whenever they happen to have a game against any of their city rivals. The aggression levels are always so high whenever their is a game against another rival and this is what it seems has happened to Serbia from soccer. I think that the way this formed Serbia was not really the most positive because soccer is now just a violent sport because of these teams and the insults that rival teams throw at each other are most likely actual problems these country’s have with each other rather than the actual sport itself so it comes off more as an excuse to act hostile towards each other. Meaning that in some cases, these soccer games or actually more like an excuse to argue and fight. In fact, a young boy whom was only 15 years old was actually killed by some Partizan fans while Red Star Group stated they kill within reason . Yet again displaying the fact that the culture of violence is still very present. Sure, the levels of violence has leveled down, but in some other country’s, it is still a very common thing. I feel as though Serbia was shaped like this from soccer due to the fact that their rival teams are country’s (or city’s and such) that they already have problems with combined with the levels of competitiveness just created large amounts of hostility and a rather violent nature. Not to mention, the teams themselves are violent and since they are violent, the fan base is probably going to see it as “its okay because they do it too” way. The Red Star team even has weapons and will proceed to beat their own team members “with bats, bars, and other bludgeons, they beat their own players” (Pg. 8). And the reason they do this, is the following statement “no longer tolerate the lack of commitment” (Pg. 9). So they even beat their own players at times, also displaying violence. Hopefully, soon all this violence in the soccer culture will fade.

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  2. Franklin Foer’s “How Soccer Explains the World” gives us insight into not only the importance of the sport on a global scale, but the importance of soccer on a local scale. While reading this book, it was quite evident that soccer was almost religiously practiced in all its aspects, and appreciated on an unhealthy level. It also reveals the history of these clubs, and why competing against certain teams is imperative to maintaining historical rivalry. Also delving into the history of some European countries, we can see that previous wars shaped these on-going rivalries—soccer is used to justify violence that arise because of these rivalries.

    “How Soccer Explains the Jewish Questions” reveals Europe’s on-going anti-Semitism. Before Hitler’s reign in the Western world, Jews in Europe held status in the realm of soccer. With rising fame of Hakoah of Vienna in 1925, Jewish soccer players used this pedestal that they acquired to not only try to assimilate into Western culture, but ironically to evangelize. To contradict their need to assimilate, “Jewish teams cloaked themselves in Jewish…wearing their Zionism on their sleeves and shirts.” (68) Tensions were starting to rise as anti-Semitism began to gain popularity, which led players to believe that entertaining Europe with soccer would exempt them from discrimination. With Max Nordau’s Muskeljuden ideology in mind, Hakoah players continued to advance in their successes. Muskeljuden (Muscular Judaism) was prescribed as a cure for that malady that is anti-Semitism by Nordau (69). It motivated not just soccer players, general Jews to “invest in creating gymnasia and athletic fields” (70) to strengthen body and character. The successes of Jewish soccer players not only proved that, but also “mimicked Jewish intellectual achievement.” (70)
    Anti- Semitism became evidently stronger after the genocide, not only in the general society but at soccer games as well. Racist jokes became banter at soccer games, with supporters hailing chants such as “ …Gas a Jew, Jew, Jew, put him in the oven. Cook him through.” (79) Even through these obstacles Jews have continued to advance in soccer, and have even changed some anti-Semites into philo-Semites, which I partly believe was caused by sympathy, but again also used for banter. Joking on Jews became so regular that people started to believe that they were Jewish. This brought back a sense of Jewish pride, seeing paraphernalia being sold outside of stadiums with Jewish symbols. After the genocide, the only violence that was being displayed was verbal violence which is a step-up from physical violence.

    Based on this chapter, I believe Foer’s approach is quite successful. From what I can tell, he is trying to show us how anti-Semitism not only diffused through European societies, but he ties it back to what his focal point is, soccer. He shows us how players and supporters were discriminated against due to their being Jewish. But he also briefly goes on to show us how after Hitler’s reign, Europe owns up to this side of their history and how some soccer teams (mostly supporters) integrated Jewish symbols into their culture.

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    • This chapter fascinated me as well, for obvious reasons. A few years ago I did some research on English Premier League soccer teams to figure out what team I wanted to support – EPL games just started to be televised here, so I finally had a chance to easily find a team to follow. After some wikipedia-ing, I settled on Tottenham because of their connections to Judaism and their reappropriation of anti-semitic slurs like “yid.”

      This book showed a more complex side of these club’s connections to Judaism, however, and Foer hints that Tottenham’s supporters’ use of Jewish symbols and slurs doesn’t always come from the best places – at times I wondered if this was kind of like Washington Redskins fans appropriating Native American symbols and rituals on Sundays. (Foer however does seem to favor Danish soccer club Ajax’s use of Jewish symbols more than Tottenham, despite Denmark’s own dark connections to the Nazis during WWII.)

      I like your idea that “Jews have continued to advance in soccer, and have even changed some anti-Semites into philo-Semites” though I wonder how much these advancements were by Jews or by boardrooms full of people who knew that embracing the historic Jewishness of a club was a good way of making money. Either way, your idea supports Foer’s thesis: in a global society, teams are going to put profits ahead of historical accuracy.

      I wonder what I would think if I ever get to a Tottenham game and see a bunch of Tottenham gear with Jewish symbols appropriated for sale outside the stadium – would I get in on the joke or would I get the cringy feelings I get whenever I see Washington Redskins merchandise?

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  3. While this book had some very interesting chapters I would have to choose “How Soccer Explains Islam’s Hope” as the chapter I found most interesting. It contains many facts on Islam’s history in Iran especially. Women are banned from watching soccer but in a country that is built on many cultural traditions, it’s not something that would never happen. But despite the ban women rebel and manage to find a way into soccer games and don’t stay satisfied with only being able to watch games on television. Another surprising and not surprising fact was how many of Iran’s population celebrate in a surprising way despite the dominant cultural traditions and laws. It’s unsurprising in the way that it’s human nature, to want to be able to express themselves after achieving something and not be constricted by culturally dominated laws that don’t allow for those who want to even the smallest of celebrations.
    In this chapter, Foer uses the cultural and social lenses to demonstrate how soccer had a role in the change in the Islam belief in Iran especially. Soccer often is an extremely competitive game that sometimes brings out a more unseen side to people. This definitely can clash with the culture of the Islamic people who hold a more conservative way of living. And of course any country would want their team to make it far in the games but Iran could once be seen as an exception to that. In the game that would move Iran into the World Cup “the Iranians knocked the ball around as if their government had ordered them to throw the match intentionally”(219, Foer) because of the fear that the citizens, should Iran win, would celebrate in a way that didn’t go along with their cultural and social expectations of them. The fears of this governments did come true in the end when Iran won a place in the World Cup and because it did happen even a militia that was sent to calm them down joined them in their celebration. Soccer in Iran is in my opinion somewhat of “a symbol of modernization”(225,Foer) because of how global it has become and the way it’s evolved. But for many, it crossed a line within their religion that they didn’t agree with and came as a “shock to the Islamic system” (225, Foer). Those who were extremely against the changes that soccer was bringing went as far as ordering the stone pelting of soccer players (225, Foer).
    Foer also briefly uses an economic lens. With the realization that it wouldn’t be best to get rid of soccer like all of the pop cultures that overtook Iran, the government decided to “milk the game for all it’s worth” (229, Foer). This, of course, didn’t mean that they had changed their minds about the issue but if it were to their gain and could get something out of it then that is what they were going to do. During games, small nudges back towards the Islam religion such as the praising of Allah and the hatred of the west is what they tried to impose on the thousands of people at these soccer games (229, Foer). But despite these attempts, the fans were not persuaded, running them out and advocating for the opposite message. Fearing that because of the televised soccer games, others would hear the wrong message about Islam the government made sure that those messages and the crowd as a whole were not seen on television. Instead, they only showed stock images that would take their place (230, Foer).
    Overall the evidence that Foer displays in this chapter I feel does support his claim that soccer “reflect[s] the aspirations for a new, more liberal Iran” (219, Foer) through the change in certain Islam beliefs. I think he demonstrates the desires of the Iranian people through the way soccer is adored and hated and the change in people’s beliefs through the development of soccer in Iran. Adding in there the struggle that happens on both sides of the issue I think it’s clear that soccer explains the changes that happen in cultures like Islam because of the strong grip it has globally.

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  4. Traditions and habits are dependent on situations, where a group is settled in, environmental, and resources hence why there are distinct cultures around the world. There are societies that are traditional and have barely changed over time while others adapt differently every day. Cultures include forms of entertainment meaning arts, music, and games such as sports. The most popular sport is soccer, as it is played globally. Soccer has been engraved in European societies and has increased its grasp of the world as Asia, Africa and Southern America follow in suit. The chapter that I favored specifies on a region that was not listed before and explains its approach on this globalized sport.
    “How soccer explains the American Culture Wars”, the chapter explains what the title prompts. Choosing this chapter was simple, learning further about tensions in this nation is intriguing. The U.S’s culture wars are highly targeted at racial conflicts, this chapter shows how discrete this discrimination can be.
    America or to accurately pin point, the United States, is hostile to soccer becoming a popular sport. The hostility comes from, Europeans have deemed, “hyper-nationalism”. To say no nation can plead innocent from nationalism especially not this pride fueled state. American culture is thought to be McDonalds, Baseball, and recently associated sports like basketball. With nationalism Americans are constantly preserving this form of culture.
    Although American culture is a unestablished mixture of many nationalities and ethnic groups with no solid way of life. Our culture is based on immigrants, dating back to 1600’s Europeans to present day diverse groups. Which is why I say it is hypocritical of Americans to be belligerent towards soccer based on it not forming in the U.S. Politicians have associated the sport with “European socialist [sport](241) while its own football is “democratic, capitalism” (241).
    It seems obvious that the lense the author used would be cultural and social as “culture” is in the title of the chapter. Instead I ventured into the idea that the author used a more ethical approach on this subject. As he showed ways of how our society has problems within its own and its unwillingness to accept other cultures. Cultural and social is similar to ethical, making it difficult to decipher which was used, in sum Cultural is more suiting. Our society is not joined in our ideas as we’re categorized from political associations to ethnicities. Foer exposes this disconnection in our nation which I was oblivious to beforehand.
    American culture has been losing its popularity and many, in order to preserve the popularity, have begun this hatred or xenophobia, a toxic form of discrimination that is linked with racism, a evident problem in this country. There was no science or economic data in order to defend this argument that highlights our social affairs.
    The evidence used under the cultural and social lense does defend Foer’s argument that soccer explains the world. Although not the strongest defender on how it explains the world it does shows information on one of the world’s largest globalizers.
    The U.S claims its argument against globalization with “threat to American culture…’get with the rest of the worlds program’ ” (245)., this is one side of Americans when these same people “couldn’t help revealing our Europhilic cosmopolitanism”(248). This controversial indifference to our own hypocrisy has been followed by more conflicts. There are those who try to isolate themselves from new cultures to sustain this nonexistent homogeneous culture. Many American’s enjoy the sport especially those who have roots in soccer-obsessed countries.
    Hypocrisy and xenophobia does define America and using soccer is a strong indicator on how powerful people can react to change in this nation. This introduction has led to political debates, class differences and our image of American culture

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  5. In “How Soccer Explains The World” by Franklin Foer, the chapter that most interest me is “How Soccer Explains The New Oligarchs” chapter 7. Chapter 7 focuses on the oligarchies, the definition of oligarchy is “a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution” (dictionary.com). The new oligarchs mainly focuses on how the referees is the attention of the soccer games, they are very important to the games,  receive a large amount of attention, and play an important role in the games of soccer. Oligarchs are represented through their financial status who has more power and wealth over society and the people in Italy. In this chapter, the referees are very important. Referees are the ones who distributes the yellow cards, the red cards, and the foul cards. They have big influences on the victories of soccer games and how much power they have over soccer games but most importantly referees in Italy are considered as “celebrities. The Juventus of Turin and AC Milan is known to be two popular teams in Italy, “the result is that Juve and Milan often rig the system to assign themselves most  mediocre, provincially minded referees” (pg.170) which means that if other referees who have an issued against Juve, they will find themselves working for the lower soccer games. Juventus and Milan have so much power and wealth that they can control the referees to favor soccer teams, both teams will try to take advantages over the referees, to influence them to call penalties that wasn’t made by the players but were called by Juventus and Milan. ” The fact that Milan and Juventus have so much power over the selection process is itself damning evidence of funny business” (pg.170) in this quote, it tells us that the corruption of the clubs towards the referees are hidden evidences which will be hard to discover what the two clubs did to rig the system.  

    This chapter showcases the economics and political statuses that Juventus of Turin and AC Milan have to maintain in their society. Juve and AC Milan are too competitive towards the soccer games and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the victory title. Big money was a way to buy their way to victory such as bribing them with expensive watches “the daily sports paper Gazzetta dello Sport exposed that club AS Roma had given each of Italy’s top referees a $13,500 Rolex (pg.170) and not one referees was willing to give it up or voluntarily return the gifts so clearly money has a big influence of the winning team but what is most shocking is that since 1930, Juve has won twenty-five championships and finish second fourteen times, this is shocking because Juve’s opponents kicked the ball crossing the goal line but somehow the referee failed to mention that the score was not counted. This is unfair because the winning team was chosen by the amount of bribes that was given to the referees and it isn’t a soccer game if the victory team didn’t win by playing on the field but because of how much power and wealth Juve have over the referees, Juve have committed more fouls than any clubs, but they are known to have the least amount of red cards and always get the victory title. Their actions created tensions with the public, Domenico Gramazio, a politician who was against Juve hasn’t been able to find concrete evidence leading to Juve bribing and ridiculous schemes but they caught the governments attention which is important because it is saying that wealth can control the government which leaves Juve a status placing Juve in a position of power. In conclusion, this chapter is more than just players playing on the field but that the referees was controlled to rig the games and persuading them to call false penalties. It’s surprising how much wealth and power can catch the eye of an audience and government.

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    • Reading this book and your response, I found this chapter interesting. It is a wrongdoing for the referees to rig the game because of the upperclassmen, Ac Milan and Juventus. And I agree that power and wealth had an influenced on the winning team. It’s wrong that Juventus offered the referees almost a 15,000 dollars Rolex watches so that they can favor their soccer team. I believe that every soccer game should be fair and square not repeatedly rigging it and winning many championships based off of bribes and money but should be earned by the ability to play, the game should be true to the fans.

      This chapter does show economics and political statuses that AC Milan and Juventus have to maintain in their society because I agree with the fact that the amount of wealth and power that AC Milan and Juventus have can manipulate the government. With all the bribing that Juventus has been doing to control the referees has definitively caught a politicians attention, Domenico Gramazio. Which means a lot because that can put Juve in a position where he is seen to be powerful and wealthy.

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  6. In Franklin Foer’s “How Soccer Explains the World”, it shows many aspects and the effects soccer had on the world. Even in the first chapter of the book, you can see how soccer influences the political turmoil between the Croats and Serbs, mainly fights between two ethnic groups, and seems more like racial conflict. It’s as if soccer was used as an excuse to fuel the conflict. We know that soccer teams have quite the clubs backing them. Ones that will lash out at the slightest insult to their team, but it seems more that the insults stem from insults towards their country and not how the team itself. In the book, these “clubs” act more like gangs, and an example of that would be non-other than Serbia’s Red star Belgrade soccer team. “with bats, bars, and other bludgeons, they beat their own players” (Pg. 8) Now red star didn’t do this for giggles or anything, they did this to make a statement, perhaps one of the boldest ways to make a statement. Their valid reason for beating their own players? They say they “no longer tolerate the lack of commitment” (Pg. 9).
    Where soccer is used as an excuse to fight would happen whilst a game of soccer would be going on. Before the match between the red stars and the dynamo, Tudjman, who is the former president of Croatia today demotes Serbs from the Croatian constitution. This enmity was very visible during the matches. “Fans sang about their respective slaughters” and Red Star members shouted, “We will kill Tudjman” (Pg. 16). This happened during a match between the Red Star and the Dinamo, which resulted in a brawl between the two warring teams. Serbian players had to be evacuated through a helicopter, and even the police were kicked around. This was to mere brawl between two soccer teams, each side was ready to fight. Before the game they stockpiled rocks, and had acid had been stored to melt the fences which separated the two teams. It would seem, the war in Croatia started on a soccer field at this point.
    In an interview with members of Red Star, they claim to be better than the other teams, they claim that they don’t kill relentlessly, they kill with limits. One of the members Draza explains where Partizan fans killed a 15-year-old boy. He calls them monsters, saying “they observe no limits” (Pg. 11). How he died was flares shot to his chest. Margaret Thatcher has described these soccer teams as “a disgrace to civilized society” (Pg. 13). Because of these teams, violence has become part of soccer’s culture, and most of this all started in England. Compared to other teams, Serbia’s was much more organized than the other.
    This culture of violence in soccer has taken its toll on the people and its teams, but this war on the soccer field has yet to end for other countries. Today it still continues, and it seems its warped around racial conflict and political differences. The Red Star Belgrade fought because they didn’t want a communist leader, and were sick of being treated terribly because of their ethnic background. At least in today’s time, the fights are not as bad as the ones between Serbia and any other country. Especially the Croats and Bosnia, where Bosnia fans held up banners boasting how they had “100,000 reasons to hate you” (conorsg.wordpress.com). But what this referred to was the number of Bosnian people killed during the war. Although this war has gone and passes, hopefully the violent culture of soccer will soon end.

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  7. In “ How Soccer Explains The World” by Franklin Foer, chapter 1 interest me because it shows how devoted people were to there team. In chapter one, it shows how far the gangs and the fans go to show how devoted they are to there soccer team. The gang, the Red Star Belgrade’s were very tough, they would try to show so much devotion to there team by hurting the opponent’s fans and even attacking stadiums before the game. They were very passionate about their team, they would even brag about the horrible things they would do to opponents. The members of the gang committed these horrible violent acts just show how devoted they are to there team they would sometimes just go too far into showing how much love they got for their team. The Red Star Belgrade’s would even dress up in the opposite  soccer teams jerseys to befriend with fans of the opposite team then lure them to their car, they would transport them to remote locales where they can beat them up in sacred without an audience to notice their violence schemes. This is just going to far into showing love, passionate, and devotion for a team and to think that the Red Star Belgrade “is the most beloved, most successful soccer team” (pg.7) 

    In this chapter, Franklin Foer tries to explain nationalism through gang violence and soccer. The definition of nationalism is loyalty and devotion to a nation, in this chapter the red star Belgrade’s shows devotion to their soccer team, willing to do any terrific violence to honor their team. What influence them was the opposite team, Partizan fans  killed a fifteen year old red star supporter. “Those monsters killed the boy” (pg.11) this is a bad influence on the club member’s because it will drive them to madness to a point where whether their team win or lose they will continue to attack and show violence against the opposite clubs just to show how devoted they are to their team. In chapter 1 one of the most interesting characters was one of the leaders named Arkan, he lives in an immense castle where the castle is owned by dangerous gangsters  in Serbia. The violence that is constantly going towards the red star opposition, these violent actions are commanded by Arkan. ” this is not soccer, this is war”(pg.27) the gang violence that has been going on with the opposing team is an excuse of the game of soccer. Soccer is meant to be fun and enjoyable but the shocking part is that the red star hooligans use soccer as an excuse be violent towards each other. Arkan as a leader goes far as to locking opposing fans into garages until the game is over or even threaten them that they will be attacked if they score or win the game.  
    In conclusion, nationalism is shown in this chapter that I couldn’t believe how nationalism is analyzed by horrible violence to show how much the clubs are willing to go to show how honorable to their teams. It is shocking how some nationalist will go to show their devotion.

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  8. In this book, the chapter “How Soccer Explains the Gangster’s Paradise” caught my eye. Although this chapter talked about many situations involving soccer it mainly focused on a gang called Ultra Bad Boys. Ultra Bad Boys is a group of leaders of the Red Star fan club, a fan club for one of the most successful soccer team in Serbia, the Red Star Belgrade. I found this chapter the most interesting because of the Red Star fan club’s actions. The way Foer describes the fan club’s actions make it sound like the fan club are more angered at the Red Star Belgrade’s loss then they are themselves.
    In the chapter, Foer uses ethical lenses to analyze soccer’s role in changing a part of the world, focusing on the Ultra Bad Boys. The Ultra Bad Boys are known for their violence, the cause of their violence is soccer. Every loss of a game from the Red Star Belgrade comes with anger that arises from the Ultra Bad Boys. Their anger is then used towards violence whether it be attacking the Red Star Belgrade or the fans in the stadium. They would “form a V-shaped formation and began to rampage their way around the stadium, beating anyone in their path” (11, Foer). Although others see their actions as unethical the Ultra Bad Boys see nothing wrong with what they are doing. They have limits such as no cursing, no use of firearms, and no beating of the enemy after they lose consciousness. “They consider themselves to occupy higher moral terrain than their foes” (11, Foer), they see their actions as ethical because of these limits. After their rampage they aren’t hesitant to share their successes.
    The Ultra Bad Boys were not the only ones who had an impact on soccer in Belgrade, Arkan did too. Arkan is a secret-police hit man but he is most commonly known for his army called the Tigers. Arkan’s army began to earn their reputation in the Serb offensive of 1991-1992 (23, Foer). Arkan became more and more famous and rich with each successful war and battle. To have even more adoration he had hoped to become the president of a championship soccer club and he eventually was to the Belgrade club called the Obilic. “Under Arkan’s stewardship, the club triumphed” (26, Foer) but the way they triumphed was unethical to everybody, especially to the opposing teams. Referees would be “escorted” to the games, chants such as “if you score, you’ll never walk out of the stadium alive” (26, Foer) had threats in them and were made clear. Eventually the Obilic had qualified to compete in the Champions League but not in the ethical way, of earning it, instead it was in the unethical way, of cheating.
    This chapter succeeds in addressing Foer’s larger idea that soccer can explain the world. Soccer teams and fans are separated just like how we are separated in the world. Soccer teams and fans can and will sometimes clash with one another sometimes using violence. Those of us in different parts of the world can and will sometimes clash with one another too, war is our violence and war happens all around the world.
    Foer uses ethical lenses to analyze soccer’s role in changing a part of the world in this chapter. Soccer, an enjoyable sport, was once a spread of terror throughout Belgrade by the Ultra Bad Boys and Arkan. Their actions were unethical to those who surrounded them but ethical to themselves.

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  9. This book had some very interesting chapters, the one that I found most interesting has to be “how soccer explains the American culture wars”. I found it the most interesting because in the first few paragraphs of the chapter it goes ” …signed up their children to play soccer. It was the fashionable thing to do” (page 236) that interests me because even in this society everyone follows the “fashionable thing to do” follow in people’s footsteps. In the chapter Franklin Foer talks about baseball, and American football how it teaches children to be aggressive but that soccer represents something very different. How it was a sport which a generation of parents could project their values, (Page 237). Franklin says soccer came to represent the fundamental beliefs of yuppie parenting, (page 237). This interests me because it shows how Americans wangs their children to be aggressive but then it also shows how all the sports are different from each other and the rest of the chapters didn’t clearly do so.
    Also it says “unlike other sports, it (meaning soccer) would foster self-esteem, minimize the pain of competition while still teaching life lessons”. The meaning of foster self-esteem is encouraging or promoting development of self esteem. Making them feel good about themselves, unlike other sports like football if you lose football you are declared a “loser”.
    Another reason how it’s so interesting on page 236 going back to the self-essteem it has a “win at all costs situation.” Meaning even if you lose you’re still a winner. Leagues like the one Franklin played for back in the 1960’s handed out “participation” trophies to every player, no matter how many games his or hers team won. Some teams even stopped posting the score of games or keeping score all together. That’s interests me because when I think of American I don’t think of equality at all like everyone is equal even though that’s what a lot of other people think of American, I think of how selfish everyone is and how unfair everyone and everything is. Like I’m football which is a big American sport we have the Super Bowl and only one team gets a ring and trophy and all the rest of the teams are losers which is unfair and not equality at all (this is a very bad example).
    Like if you think of the wage gap that’s not equality either because men still get payed more and then like white privilege which isn’t equality at all. I’m bringing these examples up because soccer shows how equality works no matter what you are still a winner.

    Franklin shows lens of social, cultural and philosophical in chapter 10 “how soccer explains the American culture wars”.
    It showed culture to America because it was fashionable everyone was doing it.
    Philosophical definition is devoted to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. It was philosophical because like I said before they devoted the study of equality knowing that everyone should be equal at least in the game.

    Chapter ten talks about how lovely soccer is but then it talks about how “hating soccer is more American than apple pie” that people would even campaign against which is very interesting. It says “…. people with actual power believe that soccer represents a genuine threat to the American way of life” I took this as in ” American way of life” as in living in violence like football or not being equal?

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  10. I chose chapter 9 of the book, “How Soccer Explains Islam’s Hope”, due to the intriguing ways Islam’s devotion and culture affects both men and women differently and how the Iranian government Go to the extremes of minimizing soccer as it is seen as a symbol of modernization due to their religion. Franklin Foer looks through the lenses of Islam’s cultural and socialist community and using their past to explains soccer’s involvement of modern Iran.
    In the eastern hemisphere soccer is well known, even to Islam regions such as Iran. Islam has rules that Muslims have to follow which can be different between both sexes even in soccer. One rule that caught my interest is only men can watch soccer matches on television and enter the biggest stadium in Tehran, the Azadi. While women are forbidden to catch a glimpse of soccer in any ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979. This prohibition did not stop these women from attending a match in fact they would dress up as men and enter the Azadi themselves to fill their soccer-starved spirit, there is a reason the Azadi translates to “freedom”. The Azadi held many acts that the Koran cannot justify such as verboten language and acts of rowdy behavior all in the name of soccer brings people together celebrating human nature. This kind of behavior however comes with consequences. Due to soccer being a modernized western culture the Islamic government fears that their people will stop following tradition such as in celebration of victory “The streets of Tehran filled with revelers…Dancing and drinking and western pop…some women threw off the hijab and partied without any of the mandated head covering”(220) I always believed that the head coverings were sacred but I guess soccer just brings out the best in people, even the religious paramilitary militia whose job is to enforce Islamic law joined in the party.
    Foer also includes the tension between The United States and the Middle East due to “Dictators such as Gamal Nasser, Muhammed Qaddafi, and Hafez Assad were a thorns in Americas side (222).” This so called revolution that soccer has started benefited America by injecting western culture into Islamic world they are angering Dictators as they fear they are seen as embarrassment due to lack of modernity. Islamic law did their best to minimize soccer to prevent their followers to stray away from tradition. “The Islamic regime has managed to eliminate Iranian pop culture by limiting what is seen in movies such as skin and also minimizing works from divas and cooners(229)”. Once soccer was next the regime tried to turn billboards into propaganda by displaying the messages “Down with the USA” and “Israel must be destroyed (229)” also by scaring teams from making scores to prevent such celebrations and sending them off to another part of the country. None of these acts turned fans to follow in fact it only motivated them to keep denying their tyrannical government. Iranian government were conducted multiple ways of disguising the “embarrassment” they felt their people were presenting that they edited soccer matches of the Iranian crowd from cheering and breaking tradition to stock images of them in winter clothing behaving. Overall this chapter showcases the affect soccer has onto Iranians, it is an outlet for them to break tradition and have a voice against their tyrannical government. Soccer expresses freedom as Islam’s hope.
    Although the chapter focuses on soccer explaining the Islamic religion and the history of Iran, it also supports Franklin Foer’s larger idea of how soccer unifies global economy and or cause problems that keeps us divided. I would say it is both due to the fact in my point of view soccer helped gain some sort of equality in Iran. Men were only allowed to watch soccer while women weren’t but due to their spirit they risked many punishments for the love of the sport to the point where it was allowed for both genders to participate in soccer events. Although it does cause some tension to the Iranian government and Islamic regime causing a hate toward western culture humiliating their world. It supports both sides of his thesis, overall the book gives me a eye opener of the impact on soccer, how one sport can connect to so much in the world it is remarkable

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  11. Wendy Arapi

    AP Seminar Assignment #1

    Soccer evokes various strong feelings in a lot of people, just like many events around the world do. Soccer is one of the many things that fuel anger towards one’s opposers. It represents feuds over money, religion, class, and political standing. People act very similarly when passionate about soccer as they do when passionate about defending a part of their identity or something political. Franklin Foer, in How Soccer Explains the World, does a great job illustrating the ways that soccer epitomizes the many ways different groups communicate with and react to each other on the global scale. One chapter where Foer clearly demonstrates how soccer explains the world is How Soccer Explains the Pornography of Sects. He looks at soccer through social, cultural, political, and economic lenses. That chapter really changed my view on soccer because I was not aware of how seriously the sport was taken and how it stems from deeply rooted disputes about religion and money.
    The chapter How Soccer Explains the Pornography of Sects really shows how violently people interact with each other when in a slight disagreement. People act like this all over the world, and feuds between the soccer clubs Celtics and Rangers in the U.K. really represents that. The feud was based off of religion, which is a just minor difference in people, yet there are still so many arguments about it. Foer shows it through an economic lens. Rangers used their nationalistic views to make their club popular and this was very important to them because “if they lost their extremist sloganeering, they’d lose money”. Money is obviously very important and this actually shows how this soccer club explains the world. In groups around the world, for example, religious groups in some of the Middle East, often expressed a lot of hatred towards the group they are against for whatever reason. There was a feud between the Sunnis and Shiites and it was based off of her gets prioritized by the government and who gets more representation. This is an example of violent arguments between people with different beliefs or identities. The situation between the Sunnis and Shiites is very similar to the ones between the Rangers and Celtics because they are both based off of religion.
    The Rangers took away their religious affiliation so that it would benefit them financially . This shows how much money is valued around the world and how much it can divide people. Soccer clubs are very divided, and so is the world. That’s exactly what this chapter shows. I do think, however, that the author has a very negative view of the world based on this chapter, because it’s all about war. There is peace in some places in the world and if I were to just look at this chapter I would think that it doesn’t accurately represent the whole world because that is an unfair statement.

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    • I found this chapter interesting too because after spending a couple of summers teaching in Scotland a few years ago, I made Scottish friends who were very much Celtic or Rangers fans. (I, myself, chose Celtic as the team to support, and even toured their stadium once.) Of course, none of my friends ever resorted to violence because of their favorite team, and I certainly don’t think they were prejudice against Protestants or Catholics because of which team they supported either. Still, since we live in a country where all of our sports teams are first and foremost corporations who want to make money, it’s weird to think of other teams who began as clubs affiliated with political or religious ideas.

      I think you’ve made a thought provoking comparison by connecting the religious violence between Glasgow’s Catholic Celtic supporters and their Protestant Rangers counterparts to Sunni – Shiite violence in the middle east. Soccer certainly can be a microcosm for “the many ways different groups communicate with and react to each other on a global scale,” as you put it so eloquently. And just like on a global scale, these conflicts within soccer often come from silly, meaningless differences.

      I’m not sure I’d come to the same conclusion as you about the author’s worldview, though. The Celtic-Rangers rivalry is very bitter and violent, but I don’t think Foer says it’s representative of the whole world. Some chapters of the books, such as the one on Islam, demonstrate that soccer can have an uplifting and transformative effect on cultures as well.

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  12. Nik Milionis
    APSEM
    Summer Work #1

    My apologies for posting this one day late as I mixed this due date up with another classes work until told differently. My essay is as follows:

    The chapter in which I choose was How Soccer Explains the American Culture Wars due to the interest it generated to me, mainly since this hits close to home in the whole idea of the Globalization of soccer. Using several of the Eight Lenses, Foer in this chapter, summed up the import of the sport of soccer in to the United States within the culturally divide of the classes. I am in agreement on how Foer connects soccer to the sports of the United States.
    Within the chapter the use of culture and social, in the eight lenses, a main attribute of the chapter especially since it’s in the title of it. The biggest use of culture is his comparison of the Yuppie, who are youth who are well off in life and according to Foer as the main supporters of soccer in the US. Then the average American culture which is dominantly distant from the foreign soccer craze and cares more about the home-grown sports such as baseball and American Football. The chapter shoes more of a divide between choosing an isolated sport that can truly be American, because with the sources he uses, American is afraid of it more than anything. First off, the comment made here by Jack Kemp, “Football is democratic, capitalism, whereas soccer is a European Socialist sport” (Foer 241). Given this source he uses, the Cold War fear of communism is extremely tied to the divide by Americans in the Cold War period away from the European ways and making an American identity on their own which the people, who believed they are the greatest country on Earth, believed the identity would spread elsewhere much like their notions of democratic and capitalistic freedom.
    This also falls in line with the Economic lens due to the economic divide the yuppie has compared to the average American. Foer makes the extreme point in the first part of this chapter with calling the reason for soccer’s explosion at time of his youth is the radical parenting that wanted the safety of the child with “…The spirit of Sesame Street and Dr. Benjamin Spock” (Foer 237). The direct point out of Sesame Street shows the parenting to make a quieter life to the child they are raising that goes in pair to the teachings of famed child care book writer Dr. Spock, who’s methods written down would be the instrumental parent learning device of the baby boom generation. The problem is that many remember the doctor for being linked to the rise of the Hippy movement where he was blamed for parents not teaching children better, which is the opposite of the control that Foer is pointing towards with a safe sport like soccer.
    Politics are mentioned in the chapter, though briefly. Foer attempts to make a connection to hating the idea of soccer to conservatism but voids it with the information that even liberals shun soccer. Yet going back to my second paragraph, it is much more an identity thing. Both sides want something different yet Foer puts it as more of a sign that they still want to remain the American image and retain it in politics. This can be connected with the fact that the Europhile died out except for a small number of them like Foer due to the superiority that the US gained in the past century. The fact that Americans would rather escalate their own path was like them throughout history. It could even be said that the cling on to American ideals is related to the isolation of the early 20th century where the US avoided most noticeably, European ideas.
    This chapter was different compared the very foreign atmosphere of the rest of the book and was able to really interest me. Though I wished more could have been added by him on this as this felt like one of the shortest chapters I could really read in this book and provided very little in terms of what I would have liked to see, statistics.

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