Thursday, March 1, 2012

On Turkish Soccer (or: Being a Treatise on the Footballing Sport in the Far Realms of the Mother Continent)

Run of Play has a new look and a new home on the internet. It still has Brian Phillips and the rest of the aesthete crew, though. They were kind enough to allow me to write an awful lot about soccer in Turkey, and if this seems like something you're in to, you can have your way with it.
Football was bestowed here, as it was in so many other places around the world, by bored Britishers. In 1904, the Istanbul Sunday League was formed between four teams, unsurprisingly named after an English ship, the dockyard neighborhood, the expatriate neighborhood, and a Greek mythological being, respectively. By the 1910’s the familiars Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe would take up trading the championship in their intercontinental derby, save for a two-year period where the wonderfully named Altinordu Idman Yurdu — literally “The Golden Horde’s House of Exercise” — would take the crown. They par would be joined by Beşiktaş in the 1930s and thus, the Turkish league was born.
They didn't hyperlink everything I would've wanted hyperlinked, but there's a decent enough start to get you well on your way to "alt" cred as the guy on your street who knows a lot about the sixth, maybe seventh best league in Europe.


  1. This article is brilliant. Aside from the fact that its a great read, you really "get it." Are you part Turkish?

    As a proud but self-aware Turk who has spent most of her life in the US, I'm always fascinated by the observations of others on my wonderful, but complicated (and fatally flawed) people.

    Foreigners are usually insightful, but always miss the mark in some way, while Turkish nationals tend to be tainted by the "too close to home" factor. And the hybrid view of expatriate Turks seems to have, ironically, the most distant perspective of all.

    You, on the other hand, have completely nailed it. Your observations are reflective, objective, but sensitive, and compassionately critical. Your comments on the conspiracy theories, naming rituals, excessive pride, and passion are so dead-on. I'm in awe of how tuned in you are: the strange crossroads of first-generation Turkish Germans, the "huh?" campiness of small cities that come up with things like a crocodile stadium, the ironic and fantastic location of Beskitas Stadium, and the anachronistic beauty of Buyuk Ada.

    Never have I seen my own views of Turkish culture expressed so accurately and eloquently by another person.

    Kudos to you--please write more. Runofplay is a wonderful collective, and they are lucky to have you.

  2. Thanks, friend.

    Not part-Turkish, as far as I'm aware. Parents are from the New York area, their parents were very proud to be American and didn't want to talk about what happened before their arrival. So I'm just a proud Swarthy-American.

    Glad you enjoyed it, and I hope to write more. If you can write articles like you write comments, you should, too.

  3. An American? No way! I'm even more impressed--wish I knew more Americans like you when I was growing up, instead of the types that asked if my family rides camels around...

    I've never tried writing an article--don't think I have the chops, but thank you for the compliment!