Media | The stoning of Steven (w/ podcast)

Link to Steven Wells's page at Guardian Unlimited

Guardian blogger pricks both sides of US/UK sporting divide

Unable by temperament and conviction to create a “conventional” sports report, Steven Wells has built a Web 2.0 following by trusting his punk-poet instincts and inducing an irony-challenged foamy slaver among his American and UK readership.

Since the 2006 World Cup he has posted to the blog network at Guardian Unlimited (see list of articles), finding voice as a British expatriate in the City of Brotherly Love and gleefully exposing the dearly held, sometimes subconscious, shibboleths that both Americans and Brits possess about their sporting cultures.


Watching Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb guide the team on a series of downs and then suck oxygen on the sidelines as if he were leading an Everest assault, Wells asks: Is American football really a sport? In Wells’s language, he has conducted a “one-man street soccer jihad” to help smooth Americans’ transition to the beautiful game and to improve the country’s sporting sensibility as well as its democratic processes. He quickly flips, however, and mocks English arrogance contained in tired jokes about U.S.-variety soccerball.

On suggesting that Brazil playmaker Marta Vieira da Silva, following her display in the Women’s World Cup semifinal, was “probably better than at least half the players in the team you support,” he revealed the biases of what Wells calls 1953-vintage Guardian Man (see “The Female Footballer Who’s Better Than You,” Oct 3, and “Memo to Guardian Man: Time to Leave 1953 Behind,” Oct 16). Despite nominal status as readers of the most liberal mainstream English-language paper on the planet, few of the some 400 commenters to Wells’s postings on the subject could handle the idea. Wells suggests “cock golf”™ as a male-affirming alternative.

“From the British perspective, football is a measure of masculinity,” says Wells in our Oct 30 podcast. “It’s actually more important than possessing a penis.”

Reactions to Wells’s writing on such matters perhaps confirm that hopes for a birthing of enlightened, blogosphere-mediated citizenship are all a bit pie-in-the-sky. With his strings of compound modifiers and playful building of false dichotomies, Wells intentionally pushes an addled readership toward cognitive dissonance. This creates personal crisis, similar to that experienced among newly arriving seminary students when told that God does not wear a beard. A punk-rock conjugator, Wells rarely resorts to passive voice. His earlier publishing venture was Attack! Books, with the following as part of the mission statement: “The self-perpetuating ponce-mafia oligarchy of effete bourgeois wankers who run the literary scene must be swept aside by a tidal wave of screaming urchin tits-out teenage terror totty …” (see interview).

His is not the pro forma sports chatter of much of the mediated world:

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