Reviews from Amazon.com for Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism
This remarkable book asks the question "why is there no soccer in the United States." Immediately you respond, "OF COURSE THERE IS!!! My kids play it all the time!!" Markovits and Hellerman would respond, however, that, yes, soccer is played in the US but it is not felt, dreamt, and lived. Fathers and mothers are not drawing on their own wealth of experience in teaching their kids how to play soccer, as they do with other sports; "pick-up games" only infrequently involve soccer; it is simply not part of the texture of daily life, as is checking the box scores of your favorite baseball team. In this book, the authors explain why the US is so different in its "sports space," as the authors call it, from almost all other countries - where soccer, generally known as football, is dominant. More broadly, Offside also offers one of the most interesting attempts to understand the spread of sports internationally. Not only do the authors' question the argument about the globalization of everything but they assert that we need to understand a given country's history and even more so its sports history to grasp how its sports space is configured. Thus, in attempting to explain "why there is no soccer in the US," they discuss the role that powerful organizations have played in cementing baseball, basketball, and football (and to a lesser extent, hockey) into the US sports space during the key 1870-1930 industrialization period and how difficult it has been for other endeavors to gain a strong foothold. Markovits and Hellerman's integration of media, political, and economic factors into this analysis and their complex comparative design (comparisons of sports, countries, time periods) provide us with an excellent model to follow and engage in our further studies of the internationalization (or not!) of sports. In short, this is an excellent, comprehensive account of how and why the "world's game" has not become a part of the American way of life. Drawing on many sources of evidence, ranging historically and cross-nationally, the authors have masterfully told an innovative and original story about US sports.
Department of Sociology
Bryn Mawr College
101 North Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899
Please also visit Andy Markovits' official
University of Michigan website