Monday, June 16, 2014
Stephen Moore of Fox News has just pronounced himself unfit for
commentary on sports (and highly suspect as a journalist) by means of writing a
piece titled, "Why
I Won't Be Watching the World Cup". This piece falls into a genre I named
"The Anti-Soccer Editorial by Someone Who Has No Appreciation for the Game".
After first checking that Moore's and Robert Tracinski's respective pieces aren't actually
Microsoft Word templates that slipped past editors, I remain confident in
calling this "a phenomenon that crops up reliably in America every four years,
around the time of the World Cup". Conservatives usually write these. The
equally ridiculous leftist equivalent, which I spotted
only this time around, might be called "Soccer IS
Anti-American, and That's a Good Thing".
I will never fault someone for his taste in sports, so long as he either has some solid reasons for enjoying (or not) the spectacle a given sport has to offer, or admits that he just doesn't know enough about a sport to enjoy watching it. Moore does neither:
I'm an American. I want scoring. I want action. Maybe it's part of the instant gratification culture but 90 minutes of kicking with zero or one or two goals doesn't exactly move heaven and earth.This is coming from someone who professes to admire golf -- a game whose participants walk (or ride) in between swings of a club and seek to score fewer points than their opponents. (I'm not very knowledgeable about golf, but, having played a little -- and having also realized that its popularity might exist for good reasons -- I can see past these "problems". Or has Moore just enough guile not to claim that he enjoys a "chukker of golf" now and then?)
Moore's criticism of soccer is about as even-handed and well-informed as the following hypothetical criticism I made of basketball some years ago:
Basketball ... is [racked] with inflation, robbing its players of the value of the successes they have already produced by making them have to score "too many times" to win a game. No wonder it's popular with blacks, who bloc-vote for Democrats (and their inflationary policies), and [is] becoming more so in socialist Europe, particularly in nations (like Greece and Italy) which historically had high inflation and unstable currencies before the Euro!Moore intriguingly claims to have argued that soccer is "a manifestation of the labor theory of value applied to sports". But if he hasn't the patience to gain some modicum of insight as to what is going on in a typical soccer game, why should I bother to read these? How would he know, even if, arguendo, he is parroting the words of a completely accurate assessment, a correct conclusion?
And the spiritual experience for the fans, of seeing points scored, is cheapened by the fact that it occurs so often. By Jove, one might as well watch footage of a printing press reeling off fiat currency! Basketball may allow players to use their hands all they want -- just like men in inflationary economies are free to use their minds -- but it retroactively robs them of the value of their past efforts!
Moore's article is no more an indictment of persuasive writing than the (illegal!) flops for easy scoring chances he uses to condemn soccer are of that game. No that I know enough to judge Moore's motives in writing this piece, but there is a lesson here for anyone interested in persuasive writing aimed at a rational audience.