THE SIMPLEST GAME: The Intelligent American's Guide to the World of Soccer by Paul Gardner

THE SIMPLEST GAME: The Intelligent American's Guide to the World of Soccer

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The novelist Priestley called it Conflict and Art, and Gardner insists it generates more passion than other sports. Soccer does have its fanatics on and off the field but this book, his fourth on the subject, won't do much to attract the new fans needed to enlarge its prestige or gate receipts. Although Gardner does go beyond the usual chronology of great games and rule changes to consider tactical development and the subtleties of team play, he takes a long time getting there. First he traces soccer's evolution from its amateur days into a game with clearly defined rules and describes the principal plays of the World Cup games, noting certain patterns: increasing commercialization, the arrogance of English teams, the rise in rough play, the impact of air travel There is a fine chapter on past and present strategies (wingers, the tactical foul) and some reflections on the game here which has been unfavorably influenced by pro football. Gardner maintains that the American game, with its tradition of violent aggression, will change with the example of Pele, a consummate ball handier, and even calls him the deux ex machina that can build soccer into a bigger business and better sport. There's more here than you'll find on the sports page, but maybe more filler than you'll want.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1976
Publisher: Little, Brown