Washington | National Geographic in June features soccer as its main story package with a website supplement, “The Beautiful Game: Why Soccer Rules the World.” On the Web, and likely in the print version as well, NG includes lengthy excerpts from the soon-to-be-released (in the USA) Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup (see Apr 7). Full essays by Nick Hornby (England) and Robert Coover (Spain) appear online as well as excerpts covering Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil, Costa Rica, Angola, Argentina and Croatia. (To avoid premature blindness, do yourself a favor first by cutting and pasting the text into a word processor and then enlarging the type.) We are beginning to realize how much of this book is a project of independent publisher McSweeney’s, founded by Dave Eggers, who produces the essay on the USA. Thinking Fan’s editor Sean Wilsey is editor-at-large at McSweeney’s Quarterly, while Hornby writes a regular column, “Stuff I’ve Been Reading,” for another McSweeney’s journal, The Believer.
In other U.S. magazines, Geoffrey Wheatcroft writes on football and globalization (“Non-native Sons,” not available online) in the June Atlantic Monthly. Wheatcroft supplies the most thorough deconstruction that we have seen of the origins of the word soccer, crediting a “gruesome Oxonian line in diminutives” that created “Cuppers” to refer to a cup match and “Divers” for a divinity exam. Of course, rugby football was contracted to “Rugger” as a pair to the dimunitive for association football (“soccer”).