The only reasons Americans are watching the World Cup is 1. The US is still in it, and 2. It's not football season yet. That's it. It's not huge political issue, or a sign of America's moral decay, although if you read this, you discover that a significant subset of the right wing thinks it might be so. Somebody named Keith Ablow, who will never delight us by marrying someone named Hard and going to a hyphenated name, and who pontificates at FOX, claims that the World Cup is a distraction fomented by Obama to cause us to ignore his foreign policy failures. Does he really think if we weren't guzzling brews at eight in the morning while watching Uruguay get its soccer balls handed to it by Colombia, we would be marching in the streets, demanding another invasion of Iraq?
Glenn Beck jumped on the soccer-hating bandwagon during the last World Cup in 2010 by observing "those who like the World Cup ... they're the most likely to riot," commenting that by contrast, "I haven't seen the baseball riots."
Well, he hasn't been looking. Right here is a link for a Google search I ran for "riots after World Series wins." I am only guessing that overturning police cars and smashing storefront windows is a sign of natural American exuberance when celebrating a baseball championship, whereas doing the same thing after a soccer championship is merely a demonstration of disgusting foreign brownness, which Beck has always been against.
But it is the Sultaness of Sweet herself, my girl Ann Coulter, who really sweeps American soccer-lovers into the gutter they belong. She devoted an entire column to hating the game, but she saved her most telling point for last:
If more "Americans" are watching soccer today, it's only because of the demographic switch effected by Teddy Kennedy's 1965 immigration law. I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer. One can only hope that, in addition to learning English, these new Americans will drop their soccer fetish with time.
This is a high standard for true Americanism, reminiscent of the Nazi Party's demand that its SS troops be able to prove 150 years of Aryan lineage. In my case, it is likely that I am an actual American. Both of my grandfathers were born in the US in the late 1890's. (Grandmothers are not able to transmit the gene of true Americanism, apparently. It must be located on the Y chromosome). I figure out of the four candidates for my great-grandfather, of whom I know nothing, odds are at least one of them was born here, probably right around the time the Civil War ended. So I'm American, by the Coulter standard.
But I don't know about you. If you can't trace your American ancestry back to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, you are a "new American." no matter how well you think you've learned English. Perhaps your grandchildren will someday not be interested in going to some sports bar at the crack of dawn and swizzling cervezas while rooting for your ancestral homeland, and will be real Americans, cracking beers open in the early AM at a tailgate party. We can only hope. And by the way, you're all Ted Kennedy's fault.
I was actually in Mexico for the beginning of the World Cup. Here's my report on that:
We were halted about a hundred feet behind the lead vehicle. The flagman strolled down the line to each car and explained to each set of occupants “Esperamos aqui cinquenta minutos.”
“Fifty minutes.” I did not explain to her that these were Mexican minutes, which had just been described for me by a hotel bartender the night before as an interval of time which might be as short as one minute or as long as one year. In return for that edification, I had explained the New York minute to him, which can be as long as twenty, or as short as two, seconds. He was envious of me for actually having been to New York. He had always dreamed of going there, he said, and still wished to, in spite of the chronological barrier.
My girl were and I were arguing about whether sitting in the car with the AC on for fifty minutes would irreparably damage the machine and I had just scored what I thought was the winning point by saying “Who cares? It’s rented anyway,” when a Mexican woman waved at us from the roadside.
There was no need to ask what game. Mexico was playing Brazil in the World Cup that afternoon. The delay was going to keep us from getting to Loreto before it started, which we had left early enough to do because we knew that nobody in Mexico was going to move a muscle, especially a muscle needed to check two gringos, whom they probably thought had no idea of the life-or-death importance of this sporting event, into their hotel room.
I did have an inkling of the monumental importance of the futbol match, however and in fact am a fan of Mexico in international soccer, just because that if the US won the World Cup, maybe ten percent of Americans would briefly care, but if Mexico won, it would be the greatest party in the history of the world. Really. It would make that millennial bash we had some years back look as dull as an afternoon spent waiting for a beer delivery in a dive bar.
We got out of the car and followed the woman over to where she had set up an awning with coolers full of soda and beer, bags full of chips and a Direct TV antenna powered by a car battery. The TV set had been carefully shaded and we and all the other stranded drivers gathered around the screen to catch the match in this impromptu ocean side sports bar. Our hostess meanwhile strolled down the growing line of stopped cars selling beverages.
The crowd sipped at their cervezas and made the excited noises soccer fans always make when something nearly happens on the field, only dispersing when the road was re-opened after about an hour and fifteen minutes.
We got to Loreto in time to watch the rest of the game at the hotel. I’m sure some stranded travelers were happy to have the chance to watch it the final minutes under that tarp on that cliff. Even when the matches are over, that Mexican woman will be selling chips and beverages to stopped motorists, because from the looks of that road, it’s not going to be done much before the next World Cup. Would that the average American had that much job security.
Mexico tied mighty Brazil, 0-0. Less a scoring than we Americans like in our games, but almost the same thing as victory for our neighbors. Vive Mexico!
*I attended the Padres game yesterday and while they won, 2-1, they only got four hits. Afterwards I noticed they were offering kids a chance to attend a "Junior Padres Hitting Instruction Camp."
"That's like me offering to teach yoga classes," I said to my S. O. She agreed heartily.