Jack Kemp
Watching our USA soccer team tie the Italian team last week and on Sunday watching the athleticism of the Brazilian team, I’m hereby publicly acknowledging that soccer can be interesting to watch, as Frederick Kempe wrote about Henry Kissinger on June 17, 2006, in the Wall Street Journal summing up Kissinger’s love for the sport.

Kissinger states that, “soccer is more of an unrelenting drama, with no timeouts, commercials or water breaks, and limited opportunity for substitutions.” Kissinger tells Kempe, “When it comes to soccer, savoring its ebbs and flows of frustration, elation and ultimately exhaustion, soccer gets me at a relatively high pitch of attention.”

Kissinger plans later this month to attend a World Cup semifinal match and also the finals, regardless of who is playing.

He’s fascinated with how national characteristics translate into playing styles: Brazil’s unbridled joy, England’s noble purpose, Germany’s grim determination.” Wow! You can interpret the psyche of a nation through soccer?

Now as an old quarterback, (really old) I’ve had fun over the years making fun of soccer as an imported brand of Third World or European socialism. Reminding my audiences whether in Congress in the ‘80s, or more recently when I speak at public events, that the trouble with soccer is that it doesn’t have a quarterback (ha!). I’ve always likened football to entrepreneurial capitalism, because the quarterback is the risk taker who organizes the factors of production, (the offense) in such a way as to score touchdowns, (profits) and thus win games, (increase profits) and hopefully make windfall profits, (with a championship).

OK, OK, so I’ve stretched the point. Still, football is America’s passion, just as soccer is the passion of so many other people around the world.

In the ‘80s, on behalf of the committee to bring a World Cup to the U.S., I gave a George Carlin-like speech (he’s one of my favorite comedians) of football vs. soccer. And with my “tongue firmly planted in my cheek,” I made the point that soccer was collectivism, every man for himself, while football is capitalistic, and then predicted the final score of the World Cup would be zero to zero, with a shootout to settle the contest.

Darned if it didn’t happen exactly that way in 1994, with the Kemps and Kissingers in the Rose Bowl, watching Brazil defeat Italy in a “shootout,” as the 90-minute game had ended in a tie, at zero.

My speech in the Congress was based on one of Carlin’s great comedic routines of the differences between baseball and football.


Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp is Founder and Chairman of Kemp Partners and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com.
 
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