Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Free Soccer Movement.

As I write this, it's evening in Brussels and the USA is playing Belgium in a friendly at Roi Bauduoin Stadium. It's 0-0 at the half. No, I'm not in Brussels, nor can I get the game on TV. I'm in Escazú, Costa Rica, and there is thunderous thunder outside. The rainy season is getting ready to do what it does best. Which is perfectly welcome after a weekend of too much sun and sand at the beach.

To mark the occasion of the US playing an exhibition in arguably the world's most interesting beer country, I was asked to write a little something for a site called the Free Beer Movement. Dan Wiersema runs the site and does a helluva job, and he doesn't even get prickly when I act like a cranky old geezer and point out that I invented the Free Beer Movement in the first place. This was back when I was writing something called We Call It Soccer. It was a blog about American soccer. Now I know a lot of you Brits are going to read this and want to bring up the F-word, which is fine, but listen: There is nothing worse than a Yank with a Yank accent using the word "football" when he means "soccer." It's like fingernails on a chalkboard, really. Just because you invented the game doesn't mean you get to tell us what to call it, same way you don't get to tell us how to spell "tyre" or what exactly a "fanny" is.

The idea behind the Free Beer Movement was and is simple: To get a fellow American interested in the beautiful game, buy them a match ticket and provide the beer. People are amazingly receptive to new things under the influence of alcohol. And there is just something magical about free beer, generally.

Can the craft beer world learn something from this? Is the stubborn American who thinks that soccer is boring the sports equivalent of the Bud-Miller-Coors drinker who won't try anything new? Maybe. Or maybe there is a class thing at work here, as upper-middle-class white guys think they know best about what other white guys ought to be doing with their time. I can't really say. My motives have always been selfish. I personally wanted better atmosphere at the soccer games I attended, and that meant getting more people interested. I personally want more beer choices in more bars and restaurants and shops, and that means getting people more interested in different beers.

You don't buy that, do you?

Oops. Belgium up 1-0 in the second half, says the intertubes. Surely I ought to be working.


  1. I have a vast amount of admittedly non-empirical evidence to suggest that US fans are fans of great beer to a disproportionate degree. The two passions share a requirement that one have a broad perspective, since great beer (and certainly great soccer) is something that 'happens' around the globe. That said, Klinsmann can tally win no. 1 any time now. And, protest they do, but 'soccer' is undeniably an English term.

  2. To generalize, the American soccer fan's love of more colorful beer stems at least partly from his tendency toward unabashed europhilia and anglophilia.