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Last week, Terry Eagleton wrote this piece deriding the world cup in particular (and football in general), claiming that football is the opium of today’s masses. While I think I grasp Eagleton’s struggle, I can’t help but wonder if he is being a bit too high and mighty. This is a tendency I notice among many academics. Not only is there a severe lack of FUN in academia, but there is also a desire to suck any pleasure out of the world in favor of a pious, puritanical intellectualism. Yes, of course global capitalism is an evil that must be fought, and fought hard. But is criticizing one of the things that actually has the power to make people happy and unite otherwise disparate cultures the solution? To be clear, I am not ignoring the power of sports or music or art or whatever to dull the attention of the “masses” and to cause the latter to become copacetic in their attitude toward the world that is in ever-dire need of action from said persons. Rather, what I’m wondering is how can we harness the power – the power to stimulate and the power to unite – that sports seems to exhibit for global liberatory ends. I’m not sure this is such an easy problem to solve. But I don’t believe that a wholesale write-off of sport is the answer. It seems that Eagleton may have jumped into the ditch on the other side of the road…

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