Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Soccer as Class Indicator

On the flight home last night, I was talking with a couple who had an adult child who was a lawyer and raising their grandchildren in a typically upper/upper-middle class suburban fashion. One element was to put the child in an orgnaized soccer league at 3 1/2 like everyone else.

It started me thinking about soccer as a class indicator. Soccer is popular around the world in part because it is easy to play, but hard to master, but also because you can play anywhere with anyone and only need one thing, a ball. It makes perfect sense why less affluent nations would take to soccer, but why has it become a mark of bourgieos life in contemporary America? Is it because it is the "not-football"? Because football is blue collar, it is full-contact, it is associated with communities that are not chock full of lawyers, doctors, and corporate middle managers? Or is it because it gives you a continental or more worldly sense, just like Thai food is so much more cosmopolitan than Chinese? Or is it something else? Why has soccer become a class indicator?