It’s safe to say, based on class discussion and analyzed articles, that sports can have a monumental impact on a country’s reputation or identity- both domestically and on the international stage. As discussed in class, countries can be entirely identified by their sports: Brazil with soccer, the US with football, Russia with gymnastics, etc. These identifications are subject to change, as is any reputation gained if not maintained. In these instances, it can be surprising or intriguing to see a country rise to superpower status in a realm of sports it was once docile. Likewise, it’s surprising or intriguing to watch a country fall from grace in a sport it once dominated. It seems the latter is applicable to the story of the United States and soccer- and to add even more intrigue, the success of US soccer leagues has been forgotten altogether in modern US Sport culture. In some instances, the documentation of such histories has fallen on single individuals alone, such Pastor Daniel Paul Morrison whose interest in his ancestry can be pinpointed as the sole reason for the recorded history of the Bethlehem Steel’s soccer league.
Prior to reading A Stumbling Start for U.S. Pro Soccer, I wouldn’t have believed anyone (besides an academic like Dr. Sibaja) who claimed the first two professional soccer leagues formed outside of the British Isles existed in the United States. In fact, based on my own understanding of American fan-ship and consumption in regard to soccer, I’d oppositely believe American soccer had a relatively short and recent history on the North American continent (excluding Mexico- but I’d grant this connection to it’s Spanish ancestry and my own association of soccer with Hispanic and Latinx culture). To find out from 1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “Little Truck” that the US not only played Mexico in a World Cup as early as 1934 but that we beat them was a shock to my aforementioned assumptions. As was the fact that an Appalachian soccer player still holds the record for most goals scored in a college season as discussed in class and previous weeks readings. I still have questions about the fall of soccer from the American preference for sports. I’m interested in academic speculation around the issue. As documented in C’mon You Reds, the failure of many U.S. soccer leagues came from monetary issues. Likewise, A Stumbling Start for U.S. Pro Soccer documents the fall of the first American soccer leagues due to a lack of understanding of the games consuming fan-base. I was interested to find out most teams were associated with Baseball tycoons- I would think personally soccer would have closer ties with American Football leagues as they play on the same kinds of fields, but I’m uneducated on the beginning organization and history of American Football compared to Baseball and Soccer. I also have remaining questions about the decline of the American Communist Soccer League- which was surprisingly tied to American businesses. This history documented in C’mon You Reds seems to shed new light on the rise of communist ideals and support in American history; the international relations of communist and socialist parties and their stances on Hitler’s regimes also surprised me… Here I see an amazing resource in the classroom for discussing communism and socialism in American in comparison to communism in Europe/Germany. I was also surprised by the amount of philanthropy undertaken by the Worker’s Soccer Association. I would love to work that into a lesson in regards to Communism v. Democracy v. Socialistic ideals and implementations. Overall, this week provided an immense amount of information surrounding the unknown history of soccer and its impact in American history. I hope we read more articles which go into the details of why the sport seems to have been ‘forgotten’ in American sports history.