Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Clueless American Sportswriters Shouldn't Bother Writing Books On Footy

Over the last few years I've read a number of books on the subject of futbol. "Hand of God: The Life of Diego Maradona, Soccer's Fallen Star" a mix of pleasure and pain, as was "Garrincha: The Triumph & Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero." Both were tales of amazing players who had their demons to battle. Maradona seems to have finally concurred his, and now is in charge of Argentina's national team. Garrincha lost his fight a long time ago.

Then there's "Soccer in Sun and Shadow" which may have lost a bit of style and flair in it's translation into English, but still manages to capture much of the passion we hold for this sport.

Along the way I've read books written by American (citizens of the USA, to be exact) writers. Anyone who has read "The Game and the Glory" a co-written autobiograph of Michelle Akers will have some understanding of why I consider her the greatest American (USA) player of all time, male or female. "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro" by Joe Mcginniss and "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford both captured the ugly side of the sport, while remaining captivating, wonderful reads.

Which brings me to the book that I just finished, "Bloody Confused" by one Chuck Culpepper, self admitted clueless american sportswriter. Now, I'm not going to say that his coverage of Portsmouth's 2006 season is worthless, but compared to the other books I've mentioned it certainly pales.

His account captures none of the emotion of the fans he joins in the stands. He writes that he is accepted by a Blue Bear and it's friends, but his writing gives the sense that he still kept them at an arms length. He talks about deciding to follow an English Primership team to try and regain the feeling of fandom, talks through out the book as he sees himself taking step after step closer to that goal. Truth is, Chuck, that you only convey the fact that you choose to join what you saw as a lucritive band wagon of American (US) writers writing about foreign futbol.

Another problem that I had with the book is his constant referencing to American sports to try and make his points. This, to me, is just more evidence that not only did he not learn enough about the sport he was following, but that he simply didn't want to make the effort.

Even then, as I said, the book isn't worthless. It was, in fact an enjoyable read. It just isn't a great read.

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