What would the founders think of the World Cup?
The founders were not big on team games. Early forms of baseball and football existed in the English-speaking world, but the founders didn't play. When John Adams was a boy, he swam, skated, shot and flew kites, when he was goofing off from his school work. Benjamin Franklin was a lifelong (and excellent) swimmer. Thomas Jefferson told his nephew Peter Carr that shooting was the best form of exercise. "Games played with the ball...are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind." Watching stadium crowds, who could disagree?
The devotion of soccer fans and the status of soccer stars would startle most of them. The celebrities of early America were ministers, and military and political leaders. The first American celebrity ? the first man to have been everywhere and been seen by practically everyone ? was the English evangelist, George Whitefield, who died in 1770 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on his seventh tour of the colonies. The second American celebrity was George Washington, who fought in five states as Commander-in-Chief and visited all thirteen as president.
John Adams, his hooky-playing days long past, would understand soccer mania, though. In 1813, he wrote his old friend Jefferson a letter about "aristocracy" ? which, to Adams, was not just a social class, but a quality that gave one individual influence over another. "The five pillars of aristocracy," he thought, were beauty, wealth, birth, genius and virtues. Athletic prowess is a kind of beauty, and it requires a kind of genius (as well as strength and stamina). So it is no wonder that athletes are among the lords of the earth. They seem less inclined than movie stars to give their political opinions, but the potential is there. Adams warned against the undue prominence aristocrats have, but he believed they would always have it. "Call this principle, prejudice, folly, ignorance, baseness, slavery, stupidity, adulation, superstition or what you will....But the fact...I cannot deny or dispute or question."
How could we shake our subservience to the lords of the soccer pitch? By watching other sports (that is, admiring a different set of aristocrats). Or by turning off the TV.
The founders are in undisclosed locations, and the Patriot Act forbids me from saying precisely how I am in contact with them, but be assured that I am. All direct quotations from the founders are on the record. In fact, they have been on the record for two hundred years.