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Austin Kelley is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He founded and edits the online literary sports journal, The Modern Spectator.

Austin’s chief area of interest is leisure, broadly construed. He even has a Ph.D. in leisure. For his doctorate in English from Duke University, Austin studied the origins of middle-class tourism and the strange idea that folks should walk around the country, guidebooks in hand, looking for beauty.

As a journalist, Austin writes about the places where sport and culture meet, as in his feature for Men’s Vogue about the medieval Italian horserace, the Palio di Siena, or this piece for The Wall Street Journal about the history of standing at sporting events. He is also particularly interested in the spaces that we build to create the experience of fun, the architecture of our free time. He has investigated, for instance, a service that furnishes whole libraries “by the foot” and the worldwide spread of prefabricated Irish pubs.

Austin writes frequently about the politics of leisure as well. This book review essay, for example, traces the history of radical calls for the end of the work ethic — laziness activism. His more straightforward sports journalism has appeared in Play and Men’s Vogue, and he is a regular contributor to the travel magazine Endless Vacation for which he explores cultural landmarks. Austin has won several awards for his soccer coverage (Look back at his World Cup newsletter and his column about the culture of world soccer for ESPN the Magazine), and is not a bad midfielder, considering that he is old and slow.

When he is not writing for magazines, Austin loves a good game of bocce or shuffleboard. He is also a published poet and fiction writer, but that’s another story.

Contact Austin.

Karma Chameleon: Germany Wins

History repeats itself, or mocks itself, or at least that’s what we like to believe. Read on.


The Land of the Free

For various reasons, mostly unintentional, I have more than a passing familiarity with Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek.


The World Cup Wakes Up

Soccer can be exhausting, watching soccer that is. If you are foolish (and lucky) enough to try to catch all the games in the World Cup, you have to stare at a television for some six hours a day, day after day, beginning in New York at 7:00 a.m… Read my notes on the sixth day, and by the way, does the Uruguayan goalkeeper look a little like Scott Baio?

See also my thoughts on North Korea, Holland, and Domenech.


Why I Love North Korea

One pleasure of the World Cup is indulging in somewhat random allegiances. Four years ago I loved Ecuador because of a shirt someone gave me; I’ve supported Paraguay because of my first experience of coffee; I like Portugal just because I’ve been there. Then there are the old stereotypes that can help you cheer: The Italians are all defense, the Argentines are cheaters, the Germans are robots. And the Brazilians, ah, the Brazilians, they just love to dance. Read more.


Inquiry Into the Morality of Soccer

Is there a morality to soccer? Check ESPN.


MLS Crests Go Classic

What’s in a crest? Read about it at ESPN.


The Geriatric 11

Who are the best soccer players in the world over 33 years old? Read on at ESPN.


Soccer II: The Sequel

Sequels, any Hollywood exec will tell you, are money in the bank. Read about the Premier League II and some MLS heartthrobs at ESPN.


Derby Day

There is no greater enemy than one’s closest neighbor. Read about crosstown rivalries at ESPN.


Tiger's Par Is Enough

Tiger Woods is the only player on the PGA Tour who can win by turning in an average day on the course. Read about it in the Wall Street Journal


Stability Spells Success

The teams with the highest player turnover, a new study shows, tend to lose. Read about it at WSJ.


Yellow Card Tally

Who gets the most yellow cards? Spaniards?


Hall of Fame: No Popularity Contest

If the Hall of Fame were for the most famous players, Mattingly would be a shoo-in.


Taking a Penalty? Relax

Taking a little more time with a penalty kick may help you score. Read it in the Wall Street Journal.


The Wild Bunch

Can a relaxed clubhouse help the Yankees win a championship? Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.


Golf Returns to Olympics with One Superpower

Golf is returning to the Olympings. I rate the projected national teams on WSJ.