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The Liverpooligans vs. The Bilderburg Bluebloods

In the US, however, spectator sports were organized from the top of society down, which has largely kept them from being a vehicle for mass populism. For example, American football evolved among rivalries between universities with national pretensions: Harvard v. Yale, Army v. Navy, and Notre Dame v. USC.

Similarly, professional sports in the US always had a strongly corporate, upper-middle-class air. For instance, the most celebrated game in professional football history, Broadway Joe Namath’s New York Jets’ victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, was a victory for the national media’s home team.

In the 1890s, baseball’s sole major league, the National League, was being taken over by Irish brawlers such as the crafty John McGraw of the Baltimore Orioles. Thus, ballparks attracted a lower class of fan. In 1901 entrepreneur Ban Johnson founded the rival American League to provide a more honest and gentlemanly version of the game that would appeal to WASP and German-American families. Johnson’s league has remained dominant for most of the last eleven decades.

In contrast, European soccer clubs mostly emerged from their indigenous communities. European soccer teams sponsored local youth leagues that served as feeder systems for talent. American college basketball coaches, though, are lauded not for their training, but for scouring distant slums to recruit genetically gifted one-and-done stars.