Baseball has inspired some fine writing, as has boxing. Most sports fans know that.
Maybe lots of sports fans outside the U.S. also know that there’s lots of fine writing set in soccer. I didn’t know it until I began reading The Global Game. Here are essays and poems celebrating the beauty of the game. No surprise there. But here, also, is “The Longest Penalty Ever,” a story by Osvaldo Soriano about a goal keeper, Gato Diaz, who has a whole week to think about which way he should dive to stop a penalty shot. Here is Alvaro Enrique looking back at the childhood days during which he rooted passionately for one of Mexico’s teams and wistfully concluding as follows: “Maybe some Sunday I should go to Pachuca and watch a game at their new stadium. Maybe the world would, once again, be filled with meaning.”
Lots of the stories in The Global Game are funny, but several of them give the authors the opportunity to espouse political positions, and some are heart-breaking. In “The Dynamo Team: Legend and Fact,” Anatoly Kuznetsov relates the tale of the team in Kiev that frustrated the occupying German army by beating the best sides the invaders could field, though the Kiev players eventually came to understand that by winning and embarrassing the Germans, they would be hastening their own executions.
I admit a bias. I’m a soccer fan. If you are, too, this is the book for you. And if you aren’t, and you give The Global Game a chance, the light may yet shine upon you.
This program aired on February 5, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.