How Soccer Explains the World, Part II


Inspired by the sympathies of Chinese soccer fans during this year's World Cup, Daniel Bell turns out an amusing essay on how what teams the Chinese root for explains everything about their worldviews.

The Chinese state's pursuit of Olympic gold medals illustrates these dangers. China's best athletes are selected at a very young age and made to undergo rigorous state-sponsored physical education, with little attention paid to other forms of learning. The athletes are used by the state to score political points, and the announcers at Olympic Games make less-than-subtle claims about the greatness of the Chinese nation. As the influential journalist Sang Ye puts it, "For China, athletics has little to do with sport per se. It is not concerned with either physical health or personal well-being. For the Chinese, athletic competitions are a struggle between political systems. They are a heady opiate administered to salve dreams of national glory" (see Sang Ye's revealing interview with an elite athlete in China Candid [University of California Press, 2006]). The near-term goal is to surpass the U.S. gold medal tally at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.

(Via A&L Daily).