Media | The stoning of Steven (w/ podcast)

It would be wrong, though, to think that Wells’s interest lies solely with goading and obfuscation. It perhaps has taken an expatriate from the world’s most football-obsessed land to recognize the intrinsic merit, uniqueness and shortcomings of America’s own soccer culture. For Philadelphia Weekly, where Wells is arts and entertainment editor, he has written about the Anderson Monarchs, rare on the American scene for facilitating the participation of inner-city, African American girls on a traveling soccer club (“Bend It Like Janiah,” Jul 4). Soccer among anarchist and unabashedly left-wing American groups has also drawn Wells’s interest (“The Most Spectacular Left-Wing Action since Best,” Mar 14). He has chided America’s soccer establishment for its monoculturalism, drawing on research suggesting that whites have adopted soccer to avoid the racial mixing implicit in other games (“Racial Divide Driving a Wedge into Soccer’s Grassroots,” 17 Jun 05).

Wells’s wife, Katharine Jones, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Philadelphia University, has herself written on the Women’s United Soccer Association and sexist language as experienced by female supporters in England.

Extending his unstinting use of language to himself, Wells chronicles his fight against lymphatic cancer in 2006 (“The English Patient,” Philadelphia Weekly, 21 Jun 06). He might object, however, to use of the word “fight” to characterize the experience. “No one ever ‘battles bravely against cancer,’ ” he writes. “This is utter bullshit. You do your chemo, take your drugs and hang on for dear life.”

As to future work, Wells will continue his exegesis of the British and American cultural divide and has tentatively named his next book “The Girlie Gay Commie Soccer Threat to the American Way of Life.” One might guess that, despite his writing on a developing supporter culture in Major League Soccer, Wells will not soon be serving as Alexi Lalas‘s marketing assistant.

“If the MLS collapsed tomorrow it really wouldn’t matter that much,” Wells says. Then, referring to the overwrought depictions of British sporting imperialism, he adds, “We’re in their bases killing their dudes. We are the agile sporting monkeys, and we’re in football’s and baseball’s nests and eating all their eggs.”


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