How is American exceptionalism reflected in sports? With Andrei Markovits

June 6, 2022

Prof. Andrei Markowitz, University of Michigan, talks about American exceptionalism in soccer on the International Horizons podcast

The U.S. women's soccer team recently reached a deal with the owners of American Professional Soccer for pay equity with the men. It was noted that the women's soccer teams in the United States were more successful on the international stage and were generating considerable revenue for investors, and yet women had been on the short end of the stick when it came to paying for their work. Meanwhile, international men's soccer has been plagued by scandal in recent years, undermining the image of the sport for many people. So what's going on out on the soccer pitch?

This week, Andrei Markovits, professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan, talks with Ralph Bunche Institute Director and Graduate Center Presidential Professor John Torpey about the comparative history of sports in Europe and the United States and how soccer was crowded out from the hegemonic sports space in the U.S. The conversation covers the rise of soccer in the U.S., the way in which soccer is a "catholicized" institution, and the implications that pay equity has for the sport.

Subscribe to International Horizons on SoundcloudSpotify, and Apple Podcasts. A lightly edited selection of the transcript follows below. 

John Torpey  00:15

The US women's soccer team recently reached a deal with the owners of American Professional Soccer for pay equity with the men. It was noted that the women's soccer teams in the United States were more successful on the international stage, and were generating considerable revenue for investors and yet women had been on the short end of the stick when it came to paying for their work. Meanwhile, international men's soccer has been plagued by scandal in recent years, undermining the image of the sport for many people. So what's going on out on the soccer pitch? 

John Torpey  00:47

Welcome to International Horizons, a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly and diplomatic expertise to bear on our understanding of a wide range of international issues. My name is John Torpey, and I'm director of the Ralph Bunche Institute at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. 

John Torpey  01:06

We're fortunate to have with us today Andrei Markovits, an Arthur F. Tournelle Professor and Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan. Early in his career, when I first had the good fortune to get to know him, he was a specialist basically in German politics, and especially on the trade unions. But he has since gone on to write extensively about sports, and especially about soccer from a comparative perspective. He's published a book on the place of men's soccer in American sports called Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism, and a book about women's participation in soccer in Europe and the United States called Women in American Soccer and European Football, which came out in 2019. Thanks so much for joining us today, Andy Markovits.

Andrei Markovits  01:59

Thank you very much for having me, John.

John Torpey  02:02

Great to have you. So maybe we could start by having you say a little bit about the place of soccer in Europe and the United States, respectively. The question that you ask in the Offside book is essentially a version of the famous question of Werner Sombart, "Why is there no socialism in America?", which was, of course, the source of so much work on the idea of American exceptionalism by Seymour Martin Lipset and others. But I mean, obviously, this has changed somewhat. But you know, so why is there no soccer? Or why was there no soccer in the United States until recently? And how does it compare to the place of the game in Europe and elsewhere, where as you say, it's essentially the leading sport pretty much everywhere else in the world?

Andrei Markovits  02:45

Well, it actually has a lot to do with the similar dimensions that Lipset and others and Sombart, of course, describe as American exceptionalism, which has now become a bad word. It has become now almost only associated with America being better; with a normative term, that we are exceptional in the sense that we are better than everybody else. And that's not how I see it. And I think that's not how most of these analysts saw it. 

Andrei Markovits  03:14

It's really an issue of America being askew or being different. So I actually always turn to my students and say, "Why is America weird? Why are we, you know, why are we with farenheit? Why don't we have the metric system? Why don't we have F1 [Formula One racing]? How do we have college sports? Why do we all have these things which make America weird, or different from the rest of the advanced industrial world?" 

Andrei Markovits  03:36

And the answer to this has a lot to do with how America developed, industrialized and it's the basically the process of industrialization and the formation of the modern working class that creates, in all these countries, what I've called hegemonic sports culture, meaning that that sport and a very few where, in fact, the doing is less important than the following. In other words, where it becomes a ubiquitous culture where people follow and know about it, even those that have nothing to do with it. Not the producers, but the consumers that matter. 

Andrei Markovits  04:18

And here, basically, what happened was that England was the progenitor or actually Britain, but above all, England, of all most of these modern team sports. And the United States kind of created its own variants thereof. It kind of split offs of it. With baseball, which by the way, as we now know, is actually not an offshoot of cricket but in fact exists in England in the 18th century already as something called baseball. It was one of the many, many bat and ball games that existed all over, in fact, also in France and other places, which is the origin. But it really becomes an American sport and it sees itself as this American creation by the absurd thing about the Immaculate Conception of the creation of America of baseball in upstate New York by, you know, a civil war general who actually never knew anything about baseball. So, in fact, he creates this Americanness very much in opposition to cricket. And throughout the 19th century, there's this battle, a cultural battle in which American identity is created via baseball and baseball becomes this major progenitor of it. 

Andrei Markovits  05:41

Then, of course, the game of soccer, which does in fact, exist in the United States, it's known as association football, which comes to the United States, and, however, is displaced in the course of the early 1870s by the Anglophilia and the power of Harvard. And Harvard actually links, or really follows rugby, the rugby game, rather than the association game, which splits in England in 1863. And but Oxford and Cambridge to this day play rugby. And Harvard, of course, emulates Oxford and Cambridge and not anybody else. 

Andrei Markovits  06:24

And so in fact, Harvard's power in America, literally, you can really see it by 1874, Harvard is an exception by 1877-78, or other colleges kind of fall off and really create something called rugby. And rugby then becomes American football. Very interesting story about Taylorization. Read the Americanization of rugby, has everything to do with what American football becomes. And it becomes hegemonic in college sports, which is uniquely American. And the only reason that college sports become so massive in America was by dint of the proliferation of higher education institutions. College Sports is Oxford and Cambridge, but Oxford and Cambridge are the only two that existed more or less than so they play each other and doesn't matter who wins because of course, if you're at Oxford and Cambridge, you've already won, it's not about distinction. Whereas what happens in America is, of course, that winning your college becomes a form of marker of distinction that people understand that state legislatures on them become because it basically American football. 

Andrei Markovits  07:35

And lastly, basketball, which is an American invention, and it's indoors. And so all of this, I argue, actually crowds out the proliferation of soccer that commences in the rest of the world around 1890 and really conquers all of Latin America, or most of Latin America other than the Caribbean, and the continent in Europe. And this is all by dint of Britain's economic might, not her political might. The political might is all because cricket countries India, Pakistan, Australia, and so on. It's the Brazils, the Argentinas, the Germanies that become actually part of this game called soccer.

Andrei Markovits  08:13

So, now, why soccer very briefly: it's the simplest game as the Cambridge undergraduates called it that really sort of formalize it in the 1850s. And it actually becomes the hegemon in virtually all of the sports spaces other than the United States and other British externalities like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, in other words, the non soccer countries, India, Pakistan, and so on and so forth, which are cricket and rugby places. So this is roughly speaking, what happens.

Andrei Markovits  08:53

Just to end on this, I also pick up on the Lipset-Rokkan famous article about party space being frozen. And I completely transferred this to the sports world that basically I argue that if you have entered as a cultural construct by the end of World War One, your chance of being present 100 years later is very high. So once you enter this, and at the time when mass participation really starts after World War One, and so on, so forth, once you're there, and in America, you have three sports that are anchored, team sports, with baseball being far and away the most important at the time. Soccer basically is crowded out, and it does not appear in- I mean, it's been playing all the time, and it kind of exists in very ethnicized leagues in New York, everywhere it  exists -and in fact, the US is actually not even bad. We beat England and the biggest upset ever in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1950. 

Andrei Markovits  08:53

So does exist, but it's not part of the American hegemonic sports space, and it starts becoming that precisely with the decrease of social democratic entities, namely with the working class, the rise of new forces such as those social movements, above all women. And it's not by chance that it's in the 1970s that in fact, soccer starts arising in the United States, precisely by the forces that I just delineated, among them women and basically the soccer moms, namely, of course, the exurban middle class that is the carrier of this, and Latinos. So the soccer in America is carried by two very bifurcated entities, one of whom are women very important, and the white middle class, and Latinos. And that's exactly the American soccer story. 

Andrei Markovits  10:52

And it's now starting to actually enter into the sports space. Now the big question, if you will the Markovitsian question, will it actually anchor itself in the American sports space? I am sometimes still very dubious about this, but more and more less or less dubious. It really depends on what happens with the men's side at the World Cups and so on. And I think that the United States is so diverse, that it will allow the proliferation of a fifth team sport into the American hegemonic sports culture, namely alongside baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer. That's the story basically. 

John Torpey  11:39

Fascinating.

Andrei Markovits  11:39

So the American sports space is much more varied than the others. For example, virtually -I did research on this -there are very, very few dual sports athletes at the top level in any other country other than the United States. And the United States it's normal on the high school and the college level to have actually two or three fluencies in languages I call sports languages. And that, in fact, is uniquely American yet again. And it's in this context that women play a very important role.

John Torpey  12:14

Well, that's a perfect segue into my next question, really. I mean, it's a fascinating story, but as you get to the end of it, women start to loom large in the discussion, in the explanation that you're giving. So since that was really the thing that prompted me to want to do this interview in the first place, could you please talk a bit about what's going on with women? I mean, seems as though you were just talking about a period before Title Nine, which is typically pointed to as the huge watershed that sort of guarantees that more women are involved, or girls really are involved in sports at schools, and then of course, go on to sports at higher levels and that sort of thing. But, so talk to us a little bit about the place of women in, particularly, of course, the growth of soccer.

Andrei Markovits  13:05

Yeah, well, I mean, women participated in sports, first of all, in pre-sports, physical, when sports were not sports in the modern sense but games. So women actually participated in all these medieval football games and whatever. We know that they're actually probably less violent because many fewer of them are arrested. And so the arrest record is much almost completely men. So women participate. In fact, it's Senda Berenson who adopts and adapts Dr. Naismith's basketball. It's nearby Smith College and creates a female version of it, which really exists all the way until the 1970s. Senda Berenson. 

Andrei Markovits  13:47

So women participate. And actually soccer they play in Europe: England is Dick Kerr's Ladies; in France, they exist, and so on. After World War One, there's a massive backlash. And in fact, men are when women attain the franchise and vote and enter the public sphere, there's a backlash. And everywhere in these soccer countries women are literally banned from the soccer field. Because they are threatening, if you will, hegemonic sports culture, which is football. So much so that the FAA actually outlaws women to play on its fields. And in Germany, they're outlawed the 1955 until 1970. So women actually are rolled back, if you will. 

Andrei Markovits  14:31

Now, 1970 is a -look, it's all a watershed about 1968 and the 60s. I'm sorry, I'm kind of touting my own generation's input in but there's no question that that's what it is. In the United States, it's Title Nine by 1972. In Europe, it's at the same time that as I trace in the book on women in soccer that it's all in the early 70s that women are starting to enter to play this and are starting to enter sports. I mean, my University of Michigan, until the 1970s, has no female athletes. By now there are actually as many as men. In fact, more varsity teams are 15, and for the men are not 14. In 2016, the United States had more female athletes and at the Rio Olympics than men, so the growth is fascinating and everywhere. And this happens massively in all advanced industrial democracies, literally in the 70s. 

Andrei Markovits  15:27

And typically the trajectory goes as follows, between, I would say, early 70s and the early 90s or late 80s, women have their own space and are really still are secondary and are inferior. In the United States, we have the AIAW, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women that has its own tournament title. The Immaculata College in Pennsylvania wins the first Women's Championship in the 70s. And not until later does the NCAA accept women. The same with soccer: FIFA does not recognize the women's game. And so the women organize all these, there's a World Championship between which Denmark exchanges with Italy, and then actually there's a game in Mexico, which the Danes beat the Mexicans in front of 100,000 people. I want to research this because this is incredible. But of course, it's not an officially FIFA-sanctioned thing, so it's really all in this gray zone.

John Torpey  16:26

Can you tell people quickly what FIFA is, because many people will not know what FIFA is?

Andrei Markovits  16:31

Well, John, it's interesting many of your young listeners, of course will know it as a video game. And which I will play also, it's a wonderful game. It's Federation Internationale de Football Association. It's the global, it's the Pope. See soccer, unlike American sports, has a pope and that's very important; has a very clear top pyramid that adjudicates what is soccer, what isn't soccer who can be excommunicated, who cannot be excommunicated. 

Andrei Markovits  17:06

So I always say that soccer is organized catholically, or you know as a pyramid, and American sports are Protestant or Orthodox. Maybe they all have their own jurisdiction, and the rugby sports and ergo, they actually split off and there's rugby union, rugby league, Australian rules, American football, Canadian football, they all become Protestant. Soccer, by virtue of creating this entity in 1904, it becomes this -by the way, and it's very interesting if you look- sports are many ways invented by the English but then are bureaucratized and modernized in terms of their bureaucracy and entity by the French: Olympics, all of this. Coubertin was basically loved upper-class English sports and he wanted to kind of create an Olympic movement around this and that's exactly what it is. He's an acolyte of the public schools, etc. 

Andrei Markovits  18:08

And so FIFA did not recognize women's sports. And then of course it does finally in the early 1980s. And in 1991, it has its first Women's World Cup, officially FIFA-sanctioned. By the way, it not allowed to be called FIFA World Cup until much later, but this gradual integration. And interestingly, of course, FIFA, people wanted to organize this in England because, of course, England is the mother country of the game. And of course, this was totally a non-starter. You know, for England, the FA to have organized a women's game, this is a joke. And who takes it over? China. China, which after Tiananmen Square is eager to have international recognition, and they organize this World Cup, which the United States wins brilliantly. 

Andrei Markovits  19:03

When they returned from the World Cup to LAX, there was literally zero; there was not one person from the media receiving these women. It was like underground or something. Michelle Akers was our big star, and of course very much anchored, a very American story above all, on the North Carolina Tar Heel team, which just set up the core of it. Again, college sports being uniquely American. In Europe, it's the clubs that are the colleges. 

Andrei Markovits  19:35

And this is a major impetus by 1996 at the first Olympics, unlike in the men's game, the Olympics are huge for the women and still remain so. And the US wins in Georgia, and it is 76,000 people are - or actually it's held in Athens rather than in Atlanta -and this becomes a big event. Followed three years later by the women beating China in 1999 at the Rose Bowl with President Clinton present, and the famous penalty kick by Brandy Chastain, scoring the winning goal, and she turns and she throws, takes off her jersey, which was very much part of soccer language at the time. And then she writes a book, It's Not About the Bra, because in America it was immediately interpreted as that she was advertising her Nike sports bra, which she wasn't.

Andrei Markovits  20:30

And that, it's the Americanization of the rest of the world, especially Western Europe, where women's soccer starts to really improve. And it's by virtue of, it's exactly the opposite of the rest of the soccer story. So it's the American women and their success that really starts proliferating in the social democratic countries of Scandinavia but also Germany. And by 2003, the Germans attained, win the World Cup, and since then the women's game is becoming a staple as a World Cup every four years, and of course, the Olympics. 

Andrei Markovits  21:11

Now, the difference to this day is that on the women's side, the national teams have become huge. But that is by dint as I argue not so much of the women's game but by dint of nationalism. Or, to use Jerry Seinfeld's brilliant insight, sport is all about rooting for laundry. In other words, you know, what does it say on the jersey? It says USA, so we're USA. So when I went to the Women's World Cup in Germany in 2011, it was a huge, huge sort of celebration in the country above all for the German team. However, the club game is completely unimportant. 

Andrei Markovits  21:55

So Germany's two superb clubs, FFC Frauen-Fußball Frankfurt and Erste Frauen Fußball club Turbine Potsdam, the attendance is about 1500 per game. I mean, it's just not, but the national team is huge. And continuing and becoming more important. When the German National Cup was played, always women and men were always at the same final. It was absolutely outrageous. And this is changed. This was not until the 2010s and so on, when the women played the first game that stadiums were virtually totally empty. Men are streaming in, they are making lewd comments, they are completely downgrading, making total fun of the women playing. And in fact, on the sideline, the two men's teams that would come on later are starting their warm up. I mean, just outrageous. It's now been decoupled, thank God and women have their own venue and the men have their own venue. However, of course, the women still have very few people come to this. Okay, so in other words, it's other than the national team and the same in the United States. 

Andrei Markovits  23:15

Now, my argument is, in the women's book, that in Europe, this is the case still, but there are interesting breakthroughs precisely by dint of soccer's deep roots. Indeed, that the club game for women might also become important and covered and followed. And there's an amazing breakthrough with Olympique Lyonnais Féminin -by the way, I hate the word. It's interesting. It's always called Frauen Fußball, no one says Männer Fußball, it's just Fußball. And the same with in French it's always you have to add the féminin to it. This Olympique Lyonnais is a major major club that is immensely successful winning on European and the French level. And now competing is above all with Barcelona. And in the last few games in Barcelona, they had at Comp Nou, which is one of the great, great grounds of soccer; it's temple for soccer, one of the big ones. It's actually Europe's largest stadium, actually are now filling up for women's games as well. 

Andrei Markovits  24:23

And I'd like to really do some research on this because this is totally new. Until now,the typical thing was the women's national team, huge success; coverage World Cup once over, forget it. Nobody covers the clubs. This is now changing. And in the United States. It's again also only the national team. However, it's also only the national team on the men's side as well. So it's the national team that pulls the American soccer story whereas in Europe, it's ultimately pulled on the women's side by the national team, but now starting to push, be pushed on the existence of such great clubs like Barcelona. So the women in Europe have an advantage of actually linking up with the great traditional clubs. 

Andrei Markovits  25:14

So to my own great, great shame, Manchester United being one of the last of the great British, English clubs to have women play, which is outrageous, actually. We've never won the WSL, the Women's Super League, very much ruled by Arsenal and Chelsea. But now there are 12 teams and they play regular games, of course, often times not on the main pitch, so often not in the same stadium. And still, the attendance rate is very low. But I think with Barcelona showing this, there is a very interesting development, which by virtue of the tradition of these clubs, might in fact transform the women's game as well.

Andrei Markovits  25:55

So this is a fascinating story, but I would say one of you know, kind of steady improvement in women's situation, and, you know, that might be said to have culminated in this recent pay deal. So I wonder if you could say, you know, what are the terms of that deal? And, you know, what does it mean for the future of soccer in the United States and elsewhere for that matter?

Andrei Markovits  26:18

Yes. Well, I mean, the big deal here is not so much the United States Soccer Federation, so again, by the way, very European are very Catholic and not American. Remember, soccer in America is also run by a federation, so it's kind of like a, to use Peter Katzenstein's terms, like a para-public institution as it were. In every country, there are these federations, which run the games, rules and all of these things, which are not part of the clubs, they're above the clubs. This of course, is completely anathema to America; the NBA is the NBA. There is no entity that is over it and rules who gets punished, what are the this and that, or the NFL. In soccer there is. So in the United States, there is the United States Soccer Federation, anchored in Chicago or homed in Chicago, which actually has the jurisdiction over the game in America. Although yet again, American exceptionalism, many parts of American soccer have nothing to do with it. So for example, college soccer; college soccer is not part of the United States Federation, which has its own rules, college soccer, its own rules, Unheard of anywhere else. But the federation of course, in every country runs the national team. The national team is not run by clubs. It's run by the federation. 

Andrei Markovits  27:43

And the big issue was this: not the seat of the clubs are part of the market and of capitalism in some ways. And it's very hard to argue that a woman player for Barcelona should make the same amount of money as Leonel Messi did when he was there. The market power is not the same, okay? It's just a different world. However, the national team is paid by the Spanish Federation. And the national team in the United States is paid by the United States Soccer Federation, not by MLS, or by various leagues or clubs. And the outrageous thing was that the federation paid the women much less than the men and had the women fly commercial flights and the men were treated like normal sports stars, being much less successful. 

Andrei Markovits  28:36

And the big point is that that has been completely alleviated. And what is amazing and it's the only this is a great great great credit to the United States Soccer Federation. They've actually pooled the women and the men all the players and it's divided up completely evenly. So they become, if you will, employees of the Soccer Federation, independent of how they perform in the market of success or whether they beat Brazil or not. Of course they will be bonus money I'm sure, like all federations have, but in fact the women have finally attained complete equality in pay and also status in the Federation. And that's what matters to me. 

Andrei Markovits  29:25

Clearly someone playing for the whatever sky -I don't even, I'm so into soccer, I don't even know some of the team names in America. Okay, because they completely outside of, you know, I know the MLS teams, but not the women's teams, and the Sky is one of them. And certainly I know actually the Portland Timbers are the men and the Portland Thorns are the women. And the reason I know them is because both of them kindly invited me to present my 2019 book to them in August. So the Portland Thorns is a big, big deal and are so are the Timbers but it's very much kind of a part of this countercultural, Northwest Cascadia world. But they're the women; I went to both games and the women have actually major presence. But it's not to me, up to the Timbers and the timbers and the Thorn to create equality because that's up to who's watched more, and so on and so forth, but above all on the Federation, and that is where women have attained complete equality. Finally, finally, finally.

John Torpey  30:32

I see. So, you know, you've now kind of opened the door to this. So I want to pursue this issue of capitalism. So as you know, I have a daughter, who is about to go to college at least, if she doesn't go to the gap year first, who has played soccer, you know, since she was eight years old or something like that. And, you know, I grew up playing police athletic league basketball and baseball. It cost my family, I don't know, 50 bucks or something like that (maybe not even that much, I have no idea really, but it was not expensive). Whereas, you know, outside of the school, the high school team, you know, there's these private clubs that have proliferated. And they're all these leagues, and I can't keep track of it. And I can't figure out, which you know, league she's in, or whether that matters or whatever. But what I do know is it costs a lot of money. And so that has always kind of, you know, sort of perplexed and needless to say, sort of annoyed me. 

John Torpey  31:36

And so I'm wondering, you know, what role does capitalism play in all this? I mean, the first part of the story and how the sports cultures that you've described, came into existence seem to have everything to do with higher education institutions in America, in the UK and the US. And so I'm sort of, but you know, the club clubs in Germany, I assume, didn't have any particular you know, capitalist kind of dimension. 

Andrei Markovits  32:06

No.

John Torpey  32:06

But now, this is all kind of big business. And it's, you know, Dick's Sporting Goods is kind of got its fingers in the pie, you know, from the time the kid is six, or younger, I don't know. And somebody's making, I guess, a lot of money off of these leagues. And, you know, is my daughter going to be a big time soccer player? No, did I ever think she was going to be? No, she was good. I mean, she was fine. But there was never kind of this idea that she was going to somehow become a big time soccer player. I want her to play soccer, because she had a good time at it. And it was a team experience and I sort of thing. But it does seem to me that you know, money, capitalism, whatever you want to call, it has now become much more, you know, key to how all this stuff works. And so I wonder what you would say,

Andrei Markovits  32:58

No question. Back to this, in Europe, and also, even in the UK, it's actually not a good because it's really only Oxford and Cambridge and develop college sports in a very, very low, completely amateur way, which in America then becomes the big time sport, which of course are not amateur on some level. And now in fact, finally, they become openly non- with NIL, with name image and likeness. So now some of my athletes you know, are making a lot more money than I am. And that's fine, because they are actually their students of sorts. But that's of course, only the revenue sports not in the others. 

Andrei Markovits  33:36

So the story in Europe is again, in some ways pre-capitalist, It's sort of the form of clubs, and the clubs are really non-capitalist. They're part of a church or of a union, or of a party, or of a political organization. That's why by the way, they're also so much more violent; the are right wing clubs and left wing clubs. And Lazio Roma, and have everything to do with this, I mean, are politically cleavaged and massive. Okay, now, can the Catholic clubs and Protestant clubs. The famous Old Firm in Glasgow between Celtic Catholics and the Rangers Protestant. 

Andrei Markovits  34:17

This does not exist in America. In America, it was not in the US, not the clubs that formed this, and the clubs still exist in Europe. And in fact, what typically, your daughter, let's construct this, how you would have you would have been a professor in England, and you wanted your daughter to play football or whatever she would have actually joined after school, the schools did not engage, secondary schools, in sport. Unlike in America, she would have come home at one o'clock and then gone to one of the clubs that you would have picked up maybe, you know, kind of more left leaning one and in Roma she would have been on the youth team of Roma and would have arisen there. And Roma would have provided the gear and on. So it's actually you would not be paying for this. In the United States by virtue of it being organized by education. So in other words, already high school and even pre- high school, and because of their staying in the afternoon and so on, it becomes part of either school or something new, that is driven by capitalism or by driven by a free space allowed in the market. And so if she were a great talent, it's the high school would then she would win a scholarship to play at North Carolina. And it wouldn't cost you a thing. And it would be by virtue of playing in the North Carolina that you will become a soccer star. 

Andrei Markovits  35:42

There are now soccer exceptions. So it's interesting that there are American women and also men who now go to Europe to play for clubs and play for Barcelona. Okay, for example, the great great Brazilian-American talent, Catarina Macario, who now plays for Lyon, did not go to college. You know, she goes straight to the club world. And this is now a very interesting debate, also within the soccer world. There are options. For instance, for example, MLS allows various options to actually for students to or novice players to go and play from early on. And yet, then not forego college, but go during the offseason. So there are, because this clearly is an important point and important value for American parents. So it's a very interesting thing where the two worlds clash, and the history of the two worlds clash in America. 

Andrei Markovits  36:51

Look, I'm actually working on a topic that the American colleges have become the globe's sports repositories. If Stanford were a country in the 2008 Olympics, they would have come in, I think, seventh. If Michigan were a country in 2000, I think same thing, will come in 16th. In other words, the world is sending their great athletes to American colleges to go to these amazing facilities. I have dear friend who's Australian, and really knows a lot about sports. And he comes to Michigan, Ohio, and he says, you know, no country in the world has such facilities. So in fact, then we encounter people from, you know, the basketball, or in hockey, or in field hockey, German students and all over the place. So they all come to the United States, and it has become the American college, the division one colleges, have become the global sports training ground for the world. 

Andrei Markovits  37:57

And if your daughter were that good in high school, you wouldn't pay a cent; she would actually be recruited to come to these places. Or she could then opt to actually forego this and become a professional in one of the leagues and above all in European leagues. So it's the two that actually clash here. But women are absolutely essential in this; very important.

John Torpey  38:28

It's a fascinating story, and obviously, everyone should go out and get your book, Offside, or the book about women's soccer and European football. But we're essentially out of time for today. It's been fascinating and full of details, and you know, sort of the comparative dimension is terrific, and, you know, gives us much food for thought about how sports are spreading around the world. And, you know, now this new role for American colleges and universities. 

John Torpey  39:04

I mean, as you know, I'm a former hockey player, and I was always kind of puzzled about how did these guys well, I mean, I knew how they got to be pro hockey players, but it was not through the routes that you know, we had in the United States, which which were the colleges or universities, I mean, Junior A Hockey, etc., was the way to, you know, become a pro so, so obviously, these, these differences all have a kind of long term historical story and go get Offside and you'll find out all about it, everybody. 

John Torpey  39:32

I want to say thanks so much to Andy Markovitz. for taking the time to share with us his insights about the role of gender in soccer and sports more generally. Remember to subscribe and rate International Horizons on SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple podcasts. I want to thank Oswaldo Mena Aguilar for his technical assistance as well as to acknowledge Duncan Mackay for sharing his song "International Horizons" as the theme music for the show. This is John Torpey saying thanks for joining us we look forward to have you with us for the next episode of International Horizons.