Category: Language

Back to Brownsville | Chronicling a soccer team, and a sister city, skilled at border crossing

In our inaugural podcast, Texas writer Oscar Casares discusses his Nov 06 profile of the 2006 Texas state soccer champion Porter High School of Brownsville.

We wonder why the Dallas Cowboys, and not soccer, feature in his short stories and hear how a border culture, up to 98 percent Latino in places, may have helped foster Porter players’ resolve in facing up to racist taunts.

Wor(l)ds for football | From ‘ball-coise’ to ‘kaduregel’ to ‘voetbal’

A long explanation for why we include “socca’ ” and “socker” on our newest T-shirt offering.

The year of Speedy Gonzales | In 2006 Texas final, Brownsville’s Cowboys produced outsider’s art

The Porter High School Cowboys’ soccer season ended prematurely this year, in a regional quarterfinal playoff to Brownsville rivals Rivera.

By defeating Coppell in the 2006 final, the school, however, will always lay claim to having become the first team from the Rio Grande Valley, in any sport, to have won a state championship competing among Texas’ largest high schools (class 5A). They also validated, in the face of prejudice, their existence as straddlers of culture and language.

Don’t smoke ’em if you got ’em | Coming ban in England stadia another blow to terrace nostalgia

London, Mar 16 | Any traces of the UK terrace culture after which nostalgists now pine may be snuffed out permanently as of Jul 1, at 6 a.m., when a nationwide public smoking ban comes into force.

Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007 | Coining a ‘worldwide currency’ for football violence

Paris, Mar 12 | Little evidence exists of Jean Baudrillard‘s rooting interests in football. The French philosopher, who died Mar 6, left behind a corpus of cultural reflection.

To him belonged clear-eyed, if not always clearly worded, explication of concepts such as “hyperreality” and “simulation”—with the latter implying more than Arjen Robben flopping around on the left-hand touchline. Such notions have lent themselves to football, including Baudrillard’s own essay on the Heysel disaster of 1985.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, 1932-2007 | A witness to (soccer) war that lay in wait

Warsaw, Poland, Jan 30 | Ryszard Kapuscinski, 74, who died on Jan 23, rarely wrote about football. Yet the title of one of his best-known collections is “The Soccer War” (Granta, 1990), in which the title essay, translated from the Polish by William Brand, chronicles Kapuscinski’s insertion into the Honduran capital as war breaks out with El Salvador across the shared border.

Magnum opus | From Charlton to Cantona, book charts a Devilish history

Manchester, England, Dec 15 | The Independent calls them “£imited editions.” These are books seeking the reverence once granted the Gutenberg Bible, instant collectibles demanding coffee tables with reinforced legs.

The latest megabook publicity splash concerns the Manchester United Opus, nearly 80 lbs of silk-coated pages with a base price of £3,000.

Frank McCourt recalls some hallowed turf | Readings for 29 November 2006

Articles by Frank McCourt on the sporting culture of his Limerick of youth, on further suppression of football-watching in Somalia, on Abbass Swan of Maccabi Haifa, and on reprieve for Iran’s football federation.

Kicking it with Karl | Both the ball and head are round

London | Talk on the world’s most downloaded podcast—some 8 million downloads confirmed by Guinness World Records—occasionally turns to sport and to football. Ricky Gervais Show co-host Stephen Merchant on 22 Aug 06 asked the third man of the trio—the world’s favorite Mancunian, Karl Pilkington—if he had been paying attention to the Commonwealth Games.

Kick and miss | Gay Talese and the new soccer journalism

“I am not now, nor have I ever been, fond of the game of soccer.” With these McCarthy Era echoes Gay Talese begins his memoir, A Writer’s Life, published last month by Knopf. If one had to choose where Talese, the dapper practitioner of literary journalism and chronicler of popular culture for The New Yorker and Esquire, might begin summarizing his career, the 1999 Women’s World Cup final would seem an unlikely candidate.

‘Clases de baile’ | Zidane’s dance class takes final turn

Madrid | With pledges “to leave it all behind” and to start playing the game with children, archetypal playmaking midfielder Zinédine Zidane has announced his retirement from football following the World Cup finals.

Typically, the 33-year-old player for Real Madrid and France looked sheepish facing the bank of microphones and cameras at Wednesday’s press conference. “Yes, he is shy,” said France teammate Thierry Henry.

He’s in the pink | Interview with Simon Kuper

Interview with Simon Kuper from Jan 05.

Greer: Male athletes behaving badly

Stunning essay by Australian-born feminist Germaine Greer, author of The Whole Woman and The Female Eunuch, on the destructive and criminal sexual behavior of male athletes, such as that alleged against Kobe Bryant and assorted UK footballers (“Nothing New about Ugly Sex,” Guardian, 16 Dec 03).

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