A short period before the 2014 World cup- which was to be held in Brazil- Mano Menezes was appointed as the manager of Brazil’s national soccer. Brazil is undoubtedly the top soccer nation and for this reason, fans around the world were excited about his prospects. The phrase ‘Brazilian flair” has been used over the years when describing any good dribble or skillful pass. As the winners of the first three World Cup, 1994 and 2002 world cups, Brazil is the most successful nation. They have never missed a world cup tournament- the only country to achieve this. Soccer is the identity of the nation.

During the time of uncertainty, late 19th century and early 20th, Brazil’s modernity and the race were taking shape, and soccer was introduced into the country by European nations and America. The country was undergoing transition, and this affected artists, intellectuals, and politicians; hence they accepted the European model of modern civilization. In Brazil, soccer is very often a national debate, with the journalist, players, and other officials being a significant percentage of the country’s population. In the 20th century, soccer became a ‘Brazil thing’ by itself, where more people were watching and playing. The futebol language became a popular and brasilidade concept; a mixture of Amerindians, Africans, and European cultures was conceived.

As the 20th century aged, soccer gained more and more popularity, with the men’s national team becoming more successful. In the 1950s, Brazil had created a unique style of play that help them win major tournaments, Pele being their star player- arguably the greatest of all time. Brazilian history has helped in the evolution of the sense of exceptionalism, and it has served as a realm on Brazilians’ sense of a distinct and integrated nationality.  

Racism was evident in the early stages of football in Brazil but has slowed down as more black players have become world-beaters. In the 19th century, a journalist argued that Brazilian soccer was deteriorating because the team had few Afro-Brazilian players who learned soccer by playing in pickup games. Also, in the early 1990s, blacks who claimed to be the source of futebol were seen as potential criminals by the press and the national government.

Another theme that dominates this week’s reading is sports and culture. European countries such as the English and Spanish partly influential in introducing soccer and volleyball to Brazil. Since then, soccer has been the primary sport in the country. Interestingly, you will find a lot of people who believe the sport originated in the country. This goes to show just how far Brazil has come.

For the readings this week, we get to take a dive into Kittelson’s book, The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil. In this book we get to see the history of soccer in Brazil and how it has helped shape the past and the present of Brazil. From racial issues of what defines “blackness”, to political issues, to different cups fighting it out both physically and when it comes to playing the sport. The intro even points out how at times, the nostalgia of the sport has lost its touch a bit. One thing is clear from the intro and that is that soccer is ingrained to the culture of Brazil and will forever be a part of it, on all levels of life. While the rise of the Brazil to winning multiple World Cups has been more of the background of this story, one cannot forget to mention just how promising Brazil was. From wins in the late 50’s, early 60’s, to the their most recent in 2002, the national soccer team has made its impact on the sport. When it comes to the societal impact we see how race relations have played out. Players like Garrincha and Pele became the focus of media scrutiny do to being Afro-Brazilian which ties into the definition of blackness that was brought up in the intro. Race relations were being handled differently throughout the world as the media would begin to expand and more eyes were put on countries throughout the world. Like in the U.S. the Civil Rights movement was beginning to pick up and African Americans were still under attack because of their skin color. Nonetheless, players like Garrincha and Pele would go on to pave the way for Brazil’s rise on the world stage and would prove to be very important in soccer’s rise. Though Pele would eventually become the bigger star, both helped Brazil dominate. Both Pele and Garrincha helped define a new style of soccer called futbol-forca (soccer strength) and futbol-arte(soccer art). Garrincha would be considered the strength on the soccer field, while Pele would be considered the beauty thanks to the way each played. While they would go on to define their own careers, play styles, and win more world cups, the country as a whole would have a problem. Brazil would have one problem though, and it was comparing itself to Europe. The book tell us that commentators in Brazil, “the idolized Europe and their own tropical nation had been a crucial nation throughout the nineteenth century. The modernity of Europe amazed and wowed the people of this tropical nation, so it became almost an achievement of sorts to be like Europe. But thanks to the stars of Brazil, they achieved what the chapter is, as their own mature modernity. Thanks to these few men, Brazil was able to show the world the melting pot it was and how the game of soccer brought them together. Though the country itself would face harsh moments thanks to social and political change, the country itself was able to show what that got and have a small moment of patriotism.

I found the article about the Bethlehem Steel a fascinating one, A pastor for a Presbyterian church in a city just outside of Philadelphia and really had no connection to the sport at all began to dig up stuff about Bethlehem’s storied past. And he didn’t really intend to dig up all this about Bethlehem he was just looking at his Great Uncle who apparently was one of the first inductees, into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. According to Morrison he found out they were originally called Bethlehem Football Club changed their name to Bethlehem Steel after one of the biggest Steel and shipbuilders took over the club. And this company did many big projects such as build the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam. And since this company employed many immigrants, the team employed a lot of immigrants as well, mainly Anglo-Saxons, recruited from the UK by the club to play here. Morrison’s uncles came from Scotland. Bethlehem Steel was one of the first American clubs to sign major foreigner players way before the likes of the New Cosmos signed Pele or the Galaxy signed David Beckham. Morrison dug up that Bethlehem is by far the most dominant club in American history. They won 5 US Open cups, and they also won 10 championships in the years between 1912-1927. And 11 players from this club are in the Hall of Fame, but the league collapsed thanks to the “Soccer war” and the dreaded financial problems.

And the article goes on to tell how him becoming interested into his family made him basically a de facto Soccer Historian and when Lionel Messi broke the goal record of an Bethlehem Steel Star player by the name of Archie Stark and how European journalist flocked over to ask Morrison about how he felt about it. It is an amazing story that shows how much sports can intertwine into society and personally affect people you wouldn’t expect to care about the sport.

Week 6

Professional soccer in the United States has had a very hard time trying to find mainstream success. The first attempts at professional leagues both began in 1894, only one of them lasted more than three full weeks, and both had folded that same year. The sport’s origins began as a way to try to make extra money in the pro baseball offseason, and sometimes pro baseball players themselves would play on the teams. However, despite the apparent lack of success of these leagues, a culture of soccer did start to form, as the US managed to get to play in the 1934 World Cup. The team, however, was not nearly as good as it could have been because the team was mostly made up of people who were willing to pay to play (a culture that has still, to an extent, persisted in the US today) instead of based on sheer talent. Elitism and favoritism was evident in the team, and because they allowed one player who was incredibly talented who wasn’t from one of the New York or Saint Louis groups of players who primarily made the team, they managed to grab a win from Mexico in a play-in for the Cup.

    There is so much about soccer, professionally or otherwise, that is either unknown, lost, or hidden to the modern archives of sport history. This has become most apparent in the case of the American Soccer League team, the Bethlehem Steel, being uncovered by a man who had only familial ties to the team and absolutely no previous soccer fanaticism. The history of a sport if it isn’t as popular as the Beatles is inherently local, and the history of the Bethlehem Steel team was uncovered through local newspapers. Daniel Paul Morrison, the man who uncovered and reported essentially all of the history of the team became fairly well known throughout hte soccer community, and the history ended up becoming a very big selling point for the club that had replaced Bethlehem. This commercialism of the sport is sometimes politicized and looked down upon. In the early days of professional soccer, a lot of clubs were ethnically watched and played for outside of the ASL, and there was a lot of politics involved, especially in the case of communist soccer leagues like the Metropolitan Worker’s Soccer League and the WSA, which disseminated communist propaganda and played internationally, and even threatened the other established leagues of the day.

Week #6

Throughout the 20th century, the surprising but extensive rise and fall of professional American soccer can be widely characterized by ideological motivations, financial troubles, a heightened inclusion of immigrant players, and the contextual settings that influenced the sports ability to progress nationally and on the global stage. As it is often emphasized throughout this week’s readings, the history of both professional and amateur American soccer has fallen through the cracks and fails to be common knowledge for anyone except sports historians. Shockingly, 20th century American soccer players have achieved historic accomplishments that were only beaten by celebrated stars of the modern day, and American national teams are regarded with global respect due to their historic achievements on the international stage. As described in 1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “Little Truck”, when the United States triumphed against the highly-favored Mexican national team during the 1934 U.S. World Cup, it symbolized the American ability to persevere in moments of doubt and achieve greatness despite a team or players characteristics. This historic moment could be celebrated and recognized with extreme patriotism, and their team’s distinct achievement greatly reflects the American ideals that are inherent within sports and soccer specifically. The 1934 American national team was characterized by native citizens, immigrants, laborers, the bourgeoisie, communists, and capitalists; but despite their ideological differences, they were able to achieve greatness on the world stage. Unfortunately, this historic socially empowering moment is often not talked about in the modern day despite the depth of what it represents within our society. The political and ideological nature of American sports has often been publicly condemned throughout the 21st century, as we have seen with Colin Kaepernick and Lebron James in past class discussions, but the history and rise of American soccer is characterized by the inherent influences of social reform and ideological differences. In the article C’mon You Reds., the author discusses the 20th century rise of the Worker’s Soccer Association, which was an amateur, but highly successful soccer league characterized by laborers and communist ideologies. The author states, “This sport movement received publicity… A 1923 editorial argued that sport was not a social negative but inherent to capitalist exploitation. Further, athletics should not be ignored but rather employed as a tool to reach young workers.” (387) It is imperative that the American people begin to recognize the influence and historic achievements of soccer leagues within our society, but additionally we should begin to recognize the innate presence of social protest and reform within all sports. The diverse communities and demographics that have contributed to our success and dominance in athletics on a global stage have proven to be a vital element of our sports institutions. Although both historically and presently many have felt threatened by the inclusion of social and political discussions within sports, without the involvement of socioeconomic, racial, ideological, and other forms of diversity within our athletic programs, it would be impossible to ever achieve greatness.

These articles helped spread awareness about the sport of soccer struggling in its early days, especially in the United States in the turn of the 20th century. The article titled ‘A stumbling start for U.S pro soccer’ written by Roger Allaway reveals this in detail, how early soccer clubs struggled in large part due to their scheduling. Early soccer was popular to foreign-born factory workers, and the games were scheduled during weekday afternoons, meaning that none of them could attend. As Allaway put it so well, the early pro soccer clubs offer little more than to show how to not succeed with a pro sports league. I think it is interesting how many early pro soccer leagues used off-season baseball stadiums as their own playing fields, and the pro baseball teams let them. Although it is further shocking to see how these early soccer leagues completely did not understand their demographic by scheduling games during weekday afternoons. In Ed Farnsworth article titled ‘1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “little truck”’ it covers the story of the 1934 U.S men’s world cup soccer team who defeated Mexico in the qualifier round that year. Farnsworth notes that the U.S men’s world cup team would not defeat Mexico again in the world cup until 1980. Farnsworth further quotes articles from the New York Times 1934 article on the win, and how they wrote the U.S team won not because of skill but because of the U.S men being heavier and playing a more vigorous match. I found it interesting how this U.S team was seemingly haphazardly put together yet managed to defeat a team that could easily be seen as a more skilled soccer team, or organization as a whole. The growth of soccer in the United States is interesting as it seems to have grown between the two sports behemoths of the United States, football and baseball. Especially during the early 20th century football and baseball were in its early stages to becoming the sports religions of the United States today. I was surprised by the journal chapter written by Gabe Logan on the U.S Communist party established soccer clubs throughout major U.S cities from 1927 to 1935. I would have never guessed this to be a situation to occur during this time in U.S. history, especially since only around ten years earlier was the first red scare within the U.S. Despite being communist clubs, they succeeded by lasting as long as they did and I was thoroughly surprised by these early clubs often playing for charity and donating the funds made back into their communities. Lastly, the article by Stanley Kay titled ‘Pastor Keeps Story of Storied U.S. Club Bethlehem Steel Alive’ is about how Pastor Daniel Morrison brought to light the old soccer club Bethlehem Steel. Bethlehem Steel won ten league championships within fifteen seasons and eleven players are in the National Soccer Hall of Fame. I found it insane how this level of success became forgotten with time, yet one man was able to dig up its old history, which is incredibly motivating for a history buff. All these articles share similarities on the importance of early soccer and the stories that can be told from it, from massive successes to terrible failures. Looking at the popularity of soccer in the United States today it is difficult to see how it would have struggled in its professional infancy. These articles show that Soccer, like other sports, holds such a rich history that should be explored especially in its early stages and further understanding how it got to where it is at today.  

Week Six

The history of sports has been full of surprises, new beginnings, and well.. now pandemics. Sports can be described and seen in many ways, but we only know from what is talked about everyday. We don’t know what is deep down in the record books. We don’t know who was the best or worse when sports started to get popular. Why not? Most people only want to know about the basics, who won last year, five years ago. It is mind blowing to see how one country can be identified for their sport, but even crazier how one’s past can be erased. After reading these articles I was surprised to see how some sports started up, but even more surprised for the actual results. 

This week I really enjoyed reading all three articles which all regard something new. One I enjoyed the most was “Pastor Keeps History of Storied U.S. Club Bethlehem Steel Alive by Stanley Kay, which was about one of the most successful soccer programs in the early 1900s. Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club was a unique soccer club that were apart of many championships and wins. But, who were they? A Pennsylvania pastor named Daniel Paul Morrison has helped identify just who this club was. An unofficial historian of the Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club, Morrison, has found great research of this team and their past. Growing up, Morrison knew very little of his uncles, Bobby and Joe, who had played for soccer for a team in Bethlehem. It made Morrison itch to find out more about his ancestors, so he went deeper. Morrison was shocked to find out the result of his research. His uncles played for this team, with one (Bobby) being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. The Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club was a powerhouse. Racking up titles, which included U.S. Open Cups, and league championships. This club was different. I’m not the biggest soccer fan but this sure is interesting. How crazy is it to know that we are JUST now learning about this team. It makes me wonder about any other powerhouse team that has been left in the dust even if it isn’t soccer. Morrison should be very satisfied with his time during this research. 

Another article I found interesting was 1934: USA vs. Mexico and the “little truck” by Ed Farnsworth. I found it really cool that the United States had played and beat Mexico in the 1934  World Cup. Although they would not defeat Mexico again for another 46 years, the US had one hell of a time then. I think it’s really cool to learn about new things regarding sports, especially those that have been forgotten. This weeks reading was very easy and enjoyable to go through. Optimistically, I hope this isn’t the end of learning about the few powerhouses and teams that have been forgotten throughout history. 

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.

Often times in life we forget simple things. There are also other times we (as humans) forget our history, either by choice or by accident. Although forgetting to buy milk is not a huge issue, forgetting history is. One example of this is the Bethlehem Steel Socer Club. You probably never heard of this team, the reason for this is people have simply forgotten. However, thanks to Daniel Morrison who has worked to revive the history of this forgotten team, we have learned many different facts about the team, players, and the culture of sports in the early 1900s. One discovery is that soccer had a rich history long before top performances at the World Cup in the late 1900s in the USA. 

In 1934: USA v. Mexico and the “little truck”, we see a USA team that is fairly new to the international stage, having played only 15 previous international games ever. Despite there lack of experience, they defeated Mexico in a 4-2 match to qualify for the World Cup in 1934. Although the USA team would not beat Mexico again until 1980, this win from 1934 represents a golden age of soccer in the USA that has passed until recent years. In the last few years, the USA women team has claimed and protected their world champion titles. Finally bringing the golden ages of soccer back to America once more.

The sport of soccer has had its ups and downs over the years, but nothing compares to the challenges it faced in the 1920s. While sports were slowly becoming more popular, two soccer organizations that were created in the 1920s. The first was the American Association of Professional Football Clubs and the second was the American League of Professional Football Clubs. Both organizations found a good rhythm until the depression hit staring in 1929. People began to have less money and began attending sporting events less. This in turn drove many of the teams involved in both clubs to close their doors. Soccer seemed to be on the way out with fewer teams and no money coming in. That is until RIS (Red Sport International) began to organize soccer games for local workers. Their focus was to create a league of worker class people who would play soccer with low costs. They also saw this as an opportunity to begin sharing communistic ideals with those who played. This was implemented by the unique Soviet Union symbol being on uniforms and other things around the stadiums. Although communism did not directly appeal to everyone, it did provide a cheap way to play soccer. These clubs did not last through the end of the following decades, however, it did preserve the game of soccer in America. Allowing for future generations to learn and enjoy the game of soccer for generations to come.

Reading these articles gave me a new insight as to how sports, especially soccer began in America. The article “A Stumbling Start for U.S. Pro Soccer” by Roger Allaway informs us greatly of the epic fails that resulted from the first national soccer leagues in the country. These leagues include the American Association of Professional Football Clubs (AAPFC), and the second, the American League of Professional Football Clubs (ALPF). Allaway states that one was much better off than the other, however, they both failed. He says, “it was to provide those who would follow in its path with a manual on what not to do.”

He says this due to the epic failures of both organizations, but does state that they were successful in showing future participants and owners what not to do when trying to establish an organization.

Another article is titled “Pastor Keeps History of Storied U.S. Club Bethlehem Steele Alive” by Stanley Kay is about how an extremely popular soccer club, Bethlehem Steele Soccer Club, was diminished to only talk and memories. However, one man named Daniel Paul Morrison, has become an unofficial historian on the topic of the soccer club. Nobody else has done the extensive research or spent as much time on the subject as Daniel Paul Morrison has. Two of his great uncles had played for the clubs. It is crazy how such a small connection can allow for a passion to develop for a subject, such as the situation with Morrison. 

It is absolutely insane to think that history that is often forgotten or not thought about can be recovered through just one person who became curious. This curiosity can spark a light in someone’s mind or heart and lead to intense research and interest in a subject or topic, allowing history to be uncovered and rediscovered in a way that it has not been before. In these instances, we can look back on critical successes as failures, and also learn from them. We can see why previous clubs failed and why others may have succeeded. We can learn from their mistakes. We can uncover the legacies that clubs, coaches, teams, and players left that may have been forgotten or go unrecognized by many.