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Thinking Soccer

Soccer may be emerging as "the perfect sport for the Internet era," reports Alex Williams in The New York Times (4/17/14). "It is often said that baseball blew up in America in the age of radio, and the NFL rose to dominance once television took over," says Roger Bennett, a soccer talk-show host on SiriusXM. Because of the Internet, says Roger, "American fans can follow games and instantaneously track information from global leagues, both big and small."

This opportunity is not lost on Brooklyn intellectuals. "It’s almost guaranteed that almost any male literary person under the age of 45 is going to be somewhat versed in soccer," says Sean Wilsey, author of The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup, "a 2006 compilation of essays by the likes of Dave Eggers and Robert Coover." As such, soccer talk "has become inevitable at book parties" as a happy alternative to discussing "the sad state of publishing." It’s "the new baseball — the go-to sport of the thinking class."

"You buy into the history and the tradition, the values of the club," says Bryan Lee, a fan. Liverpool’s Reds, for example, are "the people’s club," with "hardworking, blue-collar values." Chelsea is more about "West London Flash and privilege." Then there’s the drinking. "If you’re in a bar at 7 am with a pint of Guinness, you have a social problem," says Roger Bennett. "If you are in a bar at 7 in the morning with that same pint of Guinness and Chelsea is on TV, you’re a football fan."