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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006 4:48 pm
The New Supergroups
Posted by: Keir Graff

Megan McCafferty to Kaavya Viswanathan: apology so not accepted.

More on the YA age-range thing in the comments to yesterday’s post.

But, as I say far too often, back to soccer. I’m working my way through the 32 essays (one for each country in competition) in The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup and really enjoying them. Because it’s truly global, soccer lends itself to writing that places the sport in the context of politics and culture – and because the game on the field is hard to capture in prose, it often serves as a framing device for fascinating diversions.

Nick Hornby’s essay on England is, predictably, great. Here’s what he has to say about the fact that the best players usually play for clubs outside their native countries:

“The globalization of the transfer market was beginning to rob international football of much of its point. In the old days, you used to look at the best players playing in the club teams and think, What would they be like if they played together? And the answer was that they looked like the national team – that was the idea, anyway, even if in reality the national team, especially the English national team, was often an undercoached and ill-fitting mess. Now, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, the Milans and Barcelona have replaced the national sides as fantasy football teams.”

In the World Cup, of course, players compete for the countries where they hold citizenship, so even if Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid, a club team, during the regular season, every four years and on special occasions he plays for Brazil’s national team. To make an analogy to the world of music, using a somewhat dated industry term from the field of rock ‘n’ roll, the club teams are the new “supergroups.”

What, you didn’t know this blog is also about sports?

Seriously, this book probably says more about the world than the World Cup, although it’s a great introduction to the World Cup, too.

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