FanDuel - WFBC

July 06, 2011

Conservapedia: Soccer is Socialism: "The nature and rules of soccer very much resemble socialism in many ways," claims the group-edited right-wing website Conservapedia. "The 'no hands' rule can be compared to socialist tax policies. ... The game forbids frequent stops, which can be compared to 'carbon footprint' efforts to fight supposed global warming. ... The US is often treated unfairly by other nations in the game, one reason being soccer's lack of popularity in the US -- socialism always claimed to favor the absolute will of the majority rather than personal and economic freedom of the individual."

posted by rcade to soccer at 02:04 PM - 29 comments

Wow, conservatives are idiots.

posted by Hugh Janus at 02:09 PM on July 06

The talk page does call out the socialism comparison as ridiculous, maybe there's hope for them after all ;)

posted by billsaysthis at 02:31 PM on July 06

Conservatives are generally smart and realistic -- but whoever wrote this is an idiot.

There's actually a really good article to be written at some point about American sports being more socialist than international sports despite the societies being quite the opposite...I've thought about writing it, but haven't had the time.

posted by TheQatarian at 02:35 PM on July 06

here's actually a really good article to be written at some point about American sports being more socialist than international sports despite the societies being quite the opposite...

I think several versions of it have been written, probably a few of them by Franklin Foer.

And Conservapedia is as much a joke as FIFA.

posted by etagloh at 03:05 PM on July 06

Well said etagloh.

posted by Tinman at 03:17 PM on July 06

Doesn't FIFA's corruption count as capitalism at work? There's your balance.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 03:28 PM on July 06

I don't think corruption knows a specific ideology. But that website is so grossly overreaching I don't know where to start.

And etagloh is right - no relegation, draft spots to the worst performer and salary caps all point to socialism in North American sports moreso then the Euro-leagues.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:01 PM on July 06

I've actually thought for a while that one of the barriers to entry for Americans regarding soccer is the unilateral refereeing, which is essentially monarchical or totalitarian. American sports veer towards, if not democracy, at least oligarchy, with multiple referees interacting and often a superseding review process. I think Americans tend to dislike the idea that effort or talent can be obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person.

posted by Errant at 06:07 PM on July 06

Not that I agree with Conservapedia, but Valeriy Lobanovskyi's managerial style as told in Jonathan Wilson's excellent book Inverting the Pyramid rather resembles socialism in football. If you have any interest in how football came to be what it is today, that's your book.

posted by boredom_08 at 07:07 PM on July 06

I also liked Wilson's Beyond the Curtain, which is about socialist football. Or at least football in formerly socialist countries.

posted by yerfatma at 07:55 PM on July 06

Well, there's the Shankly quotation, which I heartily endorse, and the common origins of Busby, Shankly and Stein, and Fergie the racehorse owner starting out as shop steward to the Glasgow shipyard apprentices.

So there's a complexity to it that extends back to the original division between upper-class amateurs and working-class professionals, encompasses Jimmy Hill's campaign against the maximum wage, and is now reflected into the modern era of prawn sandwiches and council-house WAGs. Football is wrapped in class and politics because football is wrapped in life.

Conservapedia -- part troll, part unaware self-satire -- is not part of that conversation.

posted by etagloh at 09:56 PM on July 06

Links should be about something new -- such as a breaking news story, an interesting commentary, or a noteworthy sports site.

And this link is all or none of the above?

The way you describe a link has a direct impact on the way it will be discussed by members.

Well, the way you described it certainly does. That was the lamest link I've seen in as long as I can remember. You could have at least linked to the references that section noted, or something.(I mean they are all ridiculous but at least they are ridiculous articles)

If you really just wanted to bash that site, you might as well start a blog bashing "Mars Needs Moms," as well. You won't find too many people disagreeing with you on either front, myself included. But really?

posted by tselson at 11:30 PM on July 06

"Wow, conservatives are idiots."

No, conservapedia are idiots.

"Conservatives are generally smart and realistic -- but whoever wrote this is an idiot."

Conservapedia is notorious for being run by not-very-bright doctrinaire types, often of the Bible-thumper or Creationist persuasion. Since it's a wiki style publication relying on volunteers, and there's no evidence for any kind of editorial control by people who actually know how to write a proper encyclopedia-style article, the result is a train-wreck. This article isn't the worst example I've seen of this kind of stupidity from Conservapedia, either. They don't seem to understand that what they are doing undermines their cause, either. It's pathetic.

"I've actually thought for a while that one of the barriers to entry for Americans regarding soccer is the unilateral refereeing, which is essentially monarchical or totalitarian. American sports veer towards, if not democracy, at least oligarchy, with multiple referees interacting and often a superseding review process. I think Americans tend to dislike the idea that effort or talent can be obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person."

And yet they end up being obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person anyway - or by the whim of a committee. How is that better? I don't really think the refereeing in soccer is an insurmountable hurdle; it is simply a matter of what one is used to. Americans have been getting used to soccer quite a lot lately. It takes time but we're getting there.

Speaking of committees: American gridiron football has been described as "brief bursts of intense violence, separated by long committee meetings".

posted by dave2007 at 05:01 AM on July 07

This is too fun not to critique:

"The "no hands" rule can be compared to socialist tax policies."

WTF? Is baseball's balk rule comparable to the GOP tax policies? Is basketball's traveling rule comparable to the Laffer Curver? Seriously, WTF?

"The "off-sides" rule prohibits using certain aggressive ("unfair") tactics in the game."

As do all kinds of rules in American sports. Does the writer actually know any sports rules at all? Prohibiting unfair or overly-aggressive tactics is done in all sports, popular American sports included.

"Soccer is very bureaucratic, and teams are very much tied to their countries."

Again, WTF? NFL/MLB/NBA/NHL/NCAA aren't very bureaucratic? American teams aren't very much tied to their countries?

"The US is often treated unfairly by other nations in the game, one reason being soccer's lack of popularity in the US - socialism always claimed to favor the absolute will of the majority rather than personal and economic freedom of the individual."

WTF x100! Everyone thinks their team was treated unfairly. That hasn't stopped sports from being popular. Will of the majority? Isn't that democracy, not socialism per se? Personal and economic freedom of the individual? Has the writer never heard of team sports? This doesn't even parse as bad demagoguery; it literally makes no sense at all. It is so incoherent, that "it isn't even wrong" as they say.

"The World Cup trophy resembles socialist Hollywood's Emmy Award."

WTF? Not true, but so what? The Super Bowl trophy looks like a hood ornament. The World Series trophy looks like one of those old fashioned desk-top spikes for holding down memos/notes. This idiot, of course, knows nothing about what the original Jules Rimet trophy looked like.

"In youth leagues, everyone gets a trophy for their efforts regardless of achievement, and there is no scoring in the game."

Getting trophies for participation is an American capitalist thing, not a socialist thing, and is done in all American youth sports, not just soccer. And there is plenty of scoring in the game: the writer is an idiot x100.

" Even the World Cup encourages "achievement" by holding a third-place game for the two losers in the semifinals."

Again, so f_cking what? So do plenty of other sports; the NFL used to do this, the Olympics do this - giving a bronze medal is suddenly "socialist" now? WTF?

"Union strikes, even during the playing season, are a major issue with soccer."

No they aren't - not in comparison to pro sports in the USA. Right now we are threatened with both an NFL and an NBA strike, and there have been strikes in the other American major leagues over the past 10-20 years. How many strikes have there been in soccer, especially in the big leagues? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? The writer could have done some research - 5 minutes Googling would have sufficed.

"Riots caused by "hooligans" - fans of a team which lost a game - often include violent crimes, such as infringement on private property rights."

Yeah, this sort of thing NEVER happens in the North American major league sports and college sports, does it? And let's not hear the "Vancouver is in Canada" excuse, because there is a long list of American cities with sports riots where violent crimes and destruction of private property occurred. Again, a few minutes doing some basic research would have sufficed to avoid howlers like this.

"Participants are known to behave dishonestly and illegally and act against the interests of their team in order to gain financially themselves.[5]

Again, this happens in spades in the American major leagues. Is the writer a complete idiot, or a Poe? Sadly, there's no hint of humor here; the writer really seems to not know what he is talking about. He or she isn't just mostly wrong, but totally wrong, on everything!

"Soccer coaches only need a vocabulary of about 100 words to coach their teams [6],"

Go to the Conservapedia page, and click on footnote number 6 - it takes you straight back to the same place on the Conservapedia page on soccer linked above! In other words, it is a fraud. The writer has no source for this claim. Given the fact that he or she has been 100% wrong on virtually every other point in this list, what are the odds that there is any reliable source for this claim? Can you imagine any soccer coach limiting himself to 100 words? It's insane!

"which is reminiscent of socialist pandering to the lowest common denominator."

Socialists only have a 100 word vocabulary? Conservatives don't pander to the lowest common denominator? Hello?

"At least twice as many conservative words alone originated in the 20th century. "

Twice as many as what? This idiot doesn't even bother insert a fake footnote to support that claim. Citation needed! What the heck are "conservative words" anyway? Seems to me a big conservative complaint against the left was that the left was constantly manufacturing neologisms. Now this idiot claims that it is the conservatives who do this?

What a train-wreck. Is it a Poe? Is it a leftist infiltrator of Conservapedia trying to make conservatives look bad? Are the editors blind? One can only point, and laugh. Seriously. Someone who claims to be a conservative let this abortion of an article be published? Have they no shame? Have they no pride?

posted by dave2007 at 06:04 AM on July 07

Here's the actual link to the footnote which the Conservapedia editor was too inept to link properly:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8448287/How-to-coach-a-football-team-with-100-words.html

Note that the writer misunderstands the story: soccer coaches "don't only need a 100 word vocabulary" - a flippant remark was made, and then some wiseacres went out and made up a list of 100 words. This is a joke - which the writer doesn't get. No coach limits himself to 100 words; but if he had to maybe he could - does a basketball coach really need more than 100 words? A baseball coach? A football coach (note that the playbook contains pre-written plays with diagrams - you only need one word per play - does football have more than 100 plays? Does it matter?). The writer has taken a bit of light-hearted humor and interpreted it literally. It's a joke: look at that list of 100 words - could you really coach a soccer team with just those words? You'd lose all the nuance about what ideas you are tying to convey. It would be like talking in code without context; you'd be out of your depth. You need to actually have some experience with soccer to get the humor here. The Conservapedia writer does not get it.

Dominic Glennon, of the English Language Teaching Department at Cambridge University Press, said: "I suspect Fabio needs more than 100 words to manage the England team effectively but we believe his statement is not far from the truth."

In other words if he didn't mind coaching badly he might be able to limit himself to 100 words. The point is, no one seriously thinks he would limit himself to 100 words. This is tongue-in-cheek humor. Unfortunately our literal-minded Conservapedia types will never realize this because they are too busy guote-mining.

Of course what our Conservapedian also doesn't get is that a soccer coach doesn't need to explain in great detail to the soccer players how to play, because in soccer, players play and don't take much direction from coaches during play. They have to improvise and come up with the own plays, unlike in American sports where everything is pre-planned. In other words, soccer players are free, whereas American sports players are robots, controlled by their coaches. Is this the "conservative, anti-socialist" line of argument that Conservapedia wants to pursue? Because it completely undermines their case. Soccer coaches don't need a lot of words because they understand freedom! Americans, sadly, have become too militarized to understand the irony about our constant trumpeting about "American freedom" when we are constantly being told what to do by our government. Freedom!

posted by dave2007 at 06:27 AM on July 07

What a train-wreck. Is it a Poe? Is it a leftist infiltrator of Conservapedia trying to make conservatives look bad?

When they first created Conservapedia and the initial articles were being written, so many of them were this bad that I had to believe that they were planted by "liberal" editors in order to make the entire project look stupid.

But then as it grew and the articles increased in orders of magnitude, I couldn't believe that to be true unless I believed the entire project was a "liberal" joke on "conservatives".

posted by grum@work at 08:25 AM on July 07

Some one needs to come up with what the most conservative sport is. That would be interesting.

posted by bperk at 08:54 AM on July 07

No, conservapedia are idiots.

Oh, I know; I had the opportunity for a frist comment and I just had to take it. Though I do think it was exactly what the poster was trolling for, and it certainly set the conversation out on the right foot.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:26 AM on July 07

bperk, how about NASCAR? Multi-billion-dollar capitalist venture that seeks to attract the attention, and dollars, of cousin-kissin', Jack Daniels-guzzlin', yay-hoo Tea Party members who do not realize they're being fleeced.

Plus, Fox televises their races. That should be a clue.

"The 'no hands' rule can be compared to socialist tax policies ..." I see "no hands" as equaling "hands off" as equaling "free market."

Never thought we'd all become economists.

posted by jjzucal at 09:39 AM on July 07

Some one needs to come up with what the most conservative sport is.

Golf? On the one hand, you have exclusivity and a history of racial and sexual discrimination. On the other hand, you have the long history of municipal courses, and the handicap system, which is clearly affirmative action.

There's the basic distinction between what you might call "structural conservatism", i.e. an internal commitment to rules and gameplay that avoids innovation even if that means forsaking wider interest, and "institutional conservatism" as seen in the governing bodies and commercial operations.

posted by etagloh at 09:45 AM on July 07

and a history of racial and sexual discrimination.

I think that makes it a human sport.

posted by tron7 at 10:11 AM on July 07

And this link is all or none of the above?

I linked to this part of Conservapedia because the logic was hilariously awful. Instead of using my link to grind your Sportsfilter-hates-conservatives ax, perhaps you should enjoy the conversation it spawned and take the link in the spirit in which it was intended. It was hardly a serious attempt to poke conservatives.

As to how I described the link, all I did was quote Conservapedia. Seems fair to me.

posted by rcade at 10:11 AM on July 07

I think that makes it a human sport.

But there's a difference between turning a deaf ear to terrace chants from idiots and actively sucking up to Mr Hootie and the Augusta National.

posted by etagloh at 11:02 AM on July 07

Golf? On the one hand, you have exclusivity and a history of racial and sexual discrimination.

I thought about that one, but all those rules that are applied to all equally regardless of intention, wealth, or popularity. Plus, players enforce them against themselves whether anyone is going to catch them or not. That element doesn't fit nicely on any political spectrum.

posted by bperk at 11:17 AM on July 07

Participants are known to behave dishonestly and illegally and act against the interests of their team in order to gain financially themselves.

Does that make Lay, Skilling, and Fastow socialists? I knew there was something shady about those guys.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:13 PM on July 07

"I think Americans tend to dislike the idea that effort or talent can be obscured or invalidated by the whim of a single person."

The writer never met Phil Cuzzi.


I wrote about this a few days ago: I'm involved with an English non-league soccer club. The beauty with promotion/relegation is that it forces club to attempt to keep a strong roster if they wish to advance in the Pyramid or remain at its level.

In America, you could be cheap on the salaries and make a tremendous profit but win just 50 games, yet you'd be back in the top level the following season. Your fans may not like it, but who cares ... you're making moolah!

posted by jjzucal at 11:07 PM on July 07

Instead of using my link to grind your Sportsfilter-hates-conservatives ax, perhaps you should enjoy the conversation it spawned and take the link in the spirit in which it was intended. It was hardly a serious attempt to poke conservatives.

Asking a bit much? Look at the post, read the link. I honestly couldn't come up with any legitimate reason for you to post that, other than to make conservatives look extremely stupid. I'm conservative, I love soccer and I've never even heard of conservapedia before now. Wait, I'm still too idiotic to grasp the "spirit," in which you posted this. Oh yeah, it was to spawn the enjoyable conversation which I and another poster apparently, mistakenly "thought the poster was trolling for."

So, I used your link to "grind my Sportsfilter-hates-conservatives axe?"

Apparently I'm too stupid to have appreciated the nature of this post, I felt this was beneath the standards you have set, but again I almost certainly didn't understand the spirit in which it was posted. (Reads: I'm an asshole who pulls shit out of my ass and then grinds axes)

If you think I've been frequenting your site for six(?) years only to grind a f-n axe, frankly, that's demeaning and hurtful. I take exception to certain things for sure, but...whatever.

posted by tselson at 11:43 PM on July 11

That goes both ways. You think I posted that to "make conservatives look extremely stupid." I don't troll here. I don't think this link makes conservatives look stupid. I think it makes some contributors to Conservapedia look stupid. But I don't take that site seriously as a repository of conservative thought.

Every once in a while I'm accused of posting for ulterior motives, but the mundane reality is that I post interesting stuff that catches my eye which I think will spark discussion. If I found liberals making themselves look foolish in how they wrote about sports, I'd be happy to throw them under the bus.

Tried to email you but your address is bad.

posted by rcade at 09:08 AM on July 12

Updated email. tselson@yahoo.com. Can't tell if it's in my profile as no email shows up when I click on my username.

the mundane reality is that I post interesting stuff that catches my eye which I think will spark discussion.

Hey, you post a lot of stuff period. Some excellent, some good and once in a awhile...;) Seriously, if you didn't take as much time as you do posting there wouldn't be much here some days. So, thanks for that.

Every once in a while I'm accused of posting for ulterior motives,

Yeah, I know. I have ulterior motive issues. I listen to talk radio and not just the sports talk kind, if you catch my drift.

posted by tselson at 11:14 PM on July 12

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.