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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Female soccer players as a measure of liberal government

Soccer is an upper-middle-class white game, Dorrance believes, but he sees more black athletes turning to soccer in time. He thinks that internationally, liberal governments create more female soccer players: the better a society treats its women, the more female soccer players that society is going to have.

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Oral History Interview with Anson Dorrance, June 11, 1991. Interview L-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Well, I guess another image that I think of when I think of soccer is a fairly white image. Have you had black female players yet?
Yes. We've had more black male players, but we have had two black female players. It is basically, an upper middle-class white game. The blacks don't play it. There are areas in the country where they do. The only area I can think of off-hand is Columbia, Maryland. There is an upper middle-class black population there and all the kids play soccer. That's where one of the two black kids that I've coached on the women's side have come from. But that's more a demographic thing than a racial statement because as the blacks move into the suburbs they are going to be playing the game and their daughters will be playing the game. And also, I think it's sort of a demographic of what the blacks like to play because I think their prestige is still tied up in basketball and track and field. And so, if there's a great young girl athlete and she's black, her role models are going to be you know, kersey and the black basketball players. Michael Jordan is even her role model even though Michael Jordan is male because that's her culture. And so, I think her tendency, if she is a great athlete and living in the suburbs, it's still possible to go in that direction. I think as we become more integrated in that socioeconomic classification, we're going to have more black women playing.
Is soccer internationally an upper class sport or is that just here?
No, actually, internationally, in some countries, it's a lower class sport. In England it is. The upper class play rugby and cricket. Internationally, soccer for women is a cultural statement. The more liberated the country is and the more liberal it is in its attitude towards women, the more likely it is to have women soccer players. For example, the further north you go in Europe, the better the soccer gets. The Scandinavians have some of the best teams in the world; Norway, Sweden and Denmark are outstanding. Germany's very good. And then the further you go south, the teams get worse. Spain is the worst, for example. And then Africa, of course, is a nightmare. And the Middle East is a nightmare. So, based on how women are treated will dictate the level of their soccer program.