The whole world has ground to a halt to watch the World Cup. Except of course in the United States, where the World Cup is mostly a curiosity to fill our days now that the NBA and NHL have finished their seasons.
Perhaps you’d pay closer attention if you had a guide to the teams that gave you a personal stake in a given squad. Without further ado, here’s an explanation of which law schools most closely resemble World Cup sides…
The list is mostly limited to the T14 plus a couple of “Honorable Mentions.” If you want to fill out the full bracket, by all means take that task on in the comments.
Yale — Netherlands: You might have suspected Yale to be represented by a more traditional heavy-hitter like Brazil, but you’d be mistaking its perennial top ranking for its quintessential Yaleness. Yale is a small program that doesn’t feel pressure to really “compete” with other law schools. Like Netherlands, everyone concedes that Yale is a really good law school, but is it really “great” or are we just caught up in inertia? And then they’ll go out and destroy a reigning champion just to settle everyone down. Oh, and if you’re one of those who thinks Yale isn’t really being a “law school,” tell me this is really being a soccer team.
Harvard — Brazil: There may be better teams in any given year, but if you’re going to make a movie about soccer, you’re going to want Pele in there — and if you’re going to make a movie about law school, you aren’t sending Elle Woods to learn from Professor Kingsfield at Yale or Stanford. Harvard is the platonic ideal of a law school to the rest of the world and Brazil is the Platonic ideal of soccer to anyone who wants to pretend the sport involves something other than slow drudgery on its way to a 0-0 tie.
Exactly. Brazil gives you exciting 0-0 ties.
Stanford — Côte d’Ivoire: A small, high quality side from an area of the world that gets overlooked. It’s an attacking brand of soccer without a lick of defense. Stanford may want to keep an eye on its professors lest they get poached. Plus “Les Éléphants” is a fitting match for a school that hosts the Hoover Institution.
Columbia — Colombia: Obviously. A solid team near an area where you might just get shot. Or perhaps even more accurately, near a nice area where you definitely would get shot in the 1980s.
Chicago — Germany: What is law and economics but the constant search for brutal efficiency? And no nation more identifies with brutal efficiency than the Germans. Add in a sometimes troubling penchant for right-wing politics and we have a match.
NYU — Argentina: The faculty always boasts real stars. And yet the Violets can never crack the top-top echelon of schools. Likewise, expect to see Lionel Messi do all sorts of ridiculously impressive stuff and still see Argentina fail yet again. And comparing the percolating “slush fund” scandal to Argentina’s 1986 World Cup is enjoyable if for no other reason than drawing a parallel between John Sexton and Diego Maradona.
ABA — FIFA: Let’s take a quick break and note the parallels between the governing bodies of both law school and soccer. The ABA wants you to know it’s a great time to go to law school, while FIFA thinks it’s a great time to go to Qatar.
Penn — Costa Rica: Look back over previous World Cups, and no one respected little Costa Rica — a team that finished 31st the last time it qualified. Today, they sit with better than 70 percent odds to get out of their group. And look back over previous rankings and no school has propelled itself up the esteem ladder more than Penn, who sat tied for 12th in 1999 and now sits comfortably at 7th in the estimation of U.S. News and 8th in ATL’s.
Virginia — USA: An air of overwhelming entitlement in all things and one of the few uniforms in the tournament with a collar fit for popping. And both recently suffered a problem with embarrassing leaks.
Berkeley — Mexico: There’s just so much talent there that you’d think they’d be bigger factors in the top echelon. They get in a punch here and there, and yet they just kind of sit in the top 10. As Drew Magary put it:
FACT: Mexico has never advanced farther than the quarterfinals of this tournament. How is that possible? SOCCER IS THE ONLY THING YOU PLAY. We Americans came in third at the World Cup once and we SUCK at soccer. We don’t even like it!
Duke — Italy: Walk into a soccer bar and find the biggest bro there and he’s an Italia fan.
Michigan — Russia: Big, expensive, used to be a lot more important, and has issues with gays.
Northwestern — Belgium: Belgium is top in its group and yet no one’s talking about them.
Cornell — Switzerland: It’s snowy and there are precipitous drops.
Georgetown — England: The Supreme Court, the DOJ, White House Counsel. Washington, D.C. is where lawyers go to become famous. But when you strip away all the imports from Man City and Chelsea, you’re left with a country that really isn’t all that good at the game that put their home on the map. They’re good, but no one thinks Washington’s law school is in HYSCCN territory.
As for honorable mentions —
Texas — Qatar: They didn’t make the World Cup or the T14 this year, but eventually all those bribes will pay off.
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