The New York Times Turns Soccer Fandom Into A Trend

Goddammit. You just want to enjoy a perfectly fine sport, and here comes the Times' style section, bent on fetishizing pseudo-intellectual soccer fandom to the point where you're forced to reconsider your choice of fellow travelers. Read this and recoil.

Take your pick of quotes:

This is particularly evident in New York creative circles, where the game's aesthetics, Europhilic allure and fashionable otherness have made soccer the new baseball — the go-to sport of the thinking class.

Nowadays, smart-set types are expected to be conversant in European soccer. "It's like the way you expect somebody to know what's happening in 'True Detective.'"

"It's almost guaranteed that almost any male literary person under the age of 45 is going to be somewhat versed in soccer."

As a conversation topic, it has become inevitable at book parties, in part because it is both sophisticated and safe. "Isn't it sort of a relief to talk about the English Premier League instead of the sad state of publishing?" he added. "It's a great default topic."

For on-trend types with an internationalist bent, supporting (never rooting for) a Premier League club (never team) is not just a pleasant diversion, but a public display of global cultural literacy.

"You buy into the history and the tradition, the values of the club," said Bryan Lee, a digital brand strategist who grew up in Southern California and lives in Greenpoint. He showed up in a vintage gray Liverpool away jersey. "Historically, Liverpool has been a blue-collar port city."

"Any time I'm at a book party or reading, and soccer comes up in conversation, I find myself surrounded by young men in shabby-genteel, loosely fitting tweed jackets gushing over the Gunners," Ms. Schaap said. "In such settings, being an Arsenal supporter is even more predictable than having an M.F.A. or a pair of horn-rimmed glasses."

The reaction this morning has been swift and divided.

The uproar is understandable, because this piece gives the Times imprimatur to that very worst stereotype of soccer fans: coastal, effete, snobbish, convinced that their sport is somehow more objectively cerebral and refined than yours, and not quite as knowledgable about it as they think they are. They're the bugaboo of every self-satisfied commenter who declares that soccer fans are the reason he doesn't watch soccer. And here they come, parading through the paper of record, "real" fans hissing and commiserating, as if Times trend pieces chronicled actual trends, and not just "here's a thing."

This story has been done before, and better, but never written specifically about—and more importantly, for—the style section's particular demographic, which by default excludes the vast majority of this country's fans. This story's not for you, except in the sense that Times trend pieces are very much aware of their troll potential. (Thinking of them as slightly higherbrow Post headlines will help your blood pressure.)

As insufferable as the characters in the story come off, I'd much rather have a beer with them than with anyone who tells someone else they're being a fan the wrong way. This is the 22-year-old at a punk show scoffing at the 15-year-old who probably didn't even know about the band until its major-label release. They are convinced authenticity is measurable. They are personally offended by poseurs. They are better at this than you are.

The self-important fan is convinced his fandom is a signifier of something larger than liking the sport. The self-confident fan doesn't give a shit what brings other people to the sport. Be the self-confident fan. And if a Times style reporter asks you for a quote, walk the other way.

Soccer, Particularly England's Premier League, Growing in Popularity in New York Creative Circles [NY Times]