So back in the day, last time yer old pal iamwhaleman hopped on the ol’ blogwagon, it was to talk about the World Cup. And if you ask me, the World Cup has thus far lived up to the hype that was heaped upon it by people that include me. There have been a lot of really exciting matches and plenty of fruity French drama (which I’m sure they’re loving in Ireland since Ireland were screwed out of a berth by Thierry Henry’s handball) and even a few goals here and there.
Tomorrow the US will play Algeria. If the US wins, they move on to the next round. If they lose, they go home. If they draw, they could still move on, but they’d need some help. They should win. They’re better than Algeria.
Now, there was a brief but spirited round of comments on my WC post about who you should and should not support in the World Cup. I thought there were some fair points made, though of course it is just silly to root for the French (just playin’. The Zidane Headbutt was one of soccer’s all-time finest moments). Anyway, Ben made this point under the category for Worst (as in Worst Teams to support):
USA (There is no rule that you need to root for a country in sporting events due to accident of birth location. America does not care about soccer while the rest of the world stops during the World Cup, with citizens of other countries living and dying by their team – it seems to me it would be horrible if our apathetic country devastated millions of people who actually care (but somehow fitting that America is responsible for more devastation of the world’s citizens))
Now, yer old buddy i am whaleman has been percolatin’ on this for the last 10 days. I think there are some really good points in there, but I disagree here and there. So let’s disagree, shall we?
Let’s talk about the “accident of birth location” point. As you may or may not know, yer old friend i am whaleman and Ben are both natives of Colorful Colorado and are devoted followers of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies, and keep up with news of the Broncos because even though we don’t much care for football, it’s the Broncos (and these days, the news is pretty consistently either funny or depressing). We both spent significant time living in Minnesota, and in many arguments we had with our father about why we hate Minnesota’s sports teams, one of the main reasons we gave was that we already had teams that we rooted for, and that you don’t switch your lifelong allegiance just because you happen to live somewhere else for a while. But I wonder…would we have been fans of those particular teams if we hadn’t by “accident of birth location,” been born and raised in Colorado? If we had been born in New York, wouldn’t we have been fans of the Knicks and (hopefully) the Mets? If we had been born in, say, Salt Lake City, wouldn’t we have been Jazz fans (it makes me throw up in my mouth just a little bit to say that, but I comfort myself with the thought that if I was born in SLC, I’d probably be functionally retarded at best anyway, so what’s the difference, right)? Now, part of the reason that we became fans of those teams in those sports is that our parents were fans of those sports. But if they had been soccer fans (beyond my mother wishing that yer old pal i am whaleman had chosen soccer over football when he was six), wouldn’t we have naturally become supporters of USA soccer in the same way that we support USA Basketball?
How about “America does not care about soccer?” Well, this is the argument that I most disagree with, I think. Frankly, I think this is just a tired, lazy argument. Millions of Americans care a great deal about soccer. Many Americans follow their relatively weak MLS team with a fiery passion. “America” does not care about soccer in the way that “America” thinks that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are humans who should continue to exist and that “America” loves the music of…well, I can’t even think of any terrible pop singer I hate at the moment. But you know what I mean. Additionally, size matters. Compare the United States to, say…Cote D’Ivoire. The US has 16 times the population and is 28 times the area. Of course you’re not going to have the kind of unity and support for a team here that they have there. It’s true that soccer is not a nationwide, stop-everything, super-big deal in this country. But that does not mean the team is not worth supporting. And the contrarian in me wants more to support the US team every time I read some jerkoff writing about how boring soccer is and how nobody cares.
I waffle on the last point, about devastation. The US has been pretty dickish worldwide over the last 10 years or so. But even though the US is a behemoth, it’s not a soccer powerhouse. Unlike other countries, our elite athletes do not pick soccer. They pick basketball and football and baseball because that’s where the money’s at. I like it when the little guy sticks it to the big guy (and, somewhat perversely, especially when the big guy is the US). I don’t know that the US is a behemoth in this situation. But if the US is knocked out by some tiny country, that’s cool too.
I wouldn’t call myself a huge soccer fan. I love to watch it, and I love to cheer in a room full of screaming people. It’s fun, and yer old buddy i am whaleman is fairly easily suckered into that (somewhat false) feeling of unity. I watched the USA-England match in a bar with three dudes from St. Louis. It was a great time. I don’t root passionately for any team; I root for good games and I enjoy the spectacle of it all. Maybe that makes me an uncaring wanker. I suppose that’s fair enough.
i am whaleman: uncaring, rambling wanker.
USA Soccer: Not one of the “Worst” teams to support.
U! S! A!! U! S! A!!