Sunday, July 2, 2006

The World Cup and My Country...

I've had a great time enjoying the World Cup games. Most people find that odd when they realize I'm American. I got into football (soccer) in the late 90s when I lived in San Francisco.* It's just a really fun game to watch and the fans are a joy (but for those psychotic football hooligans).

*I choose to use the term "football" over "soccer" as the soccer term is distincly American because we have already have a game called "football". In which the players, ironically, rarely use their feet to maneuver the ball.

There is nothing like enjoying an exciting game of football with a beer and some cheerful folks. I had a blast in 2002 and this year chanting "대한민국!!! 대한민국!!!"* with my Korean friends during the Korean team's matches! *("Republic of Korea!!! Republic of Korea" - just like the "USA! USA!" chant that we do at big international tournaments).

It just seems that in relation to football, Americans are displaying again just how ignorant we tend to be at times. Prior to the World Cup getting started I was watching CNN. They had people call or email in their predictions for who would win. Of course, some dimwit in NYC said "The US team will win!". Hello? Our players are in the MLS which is just not fertile enough of a training ground against the other world class players the best of whom cut their teeth in the various UEFA leagues.

I'm an American! I'm an idiot! :::insert soundbyte from the Green Day song here:::

That's how I've felt watching CNN, and when I was following the Ghana v. US Matchcast on Yahoo! One American who went to Germany said he was looking forward to following our team all the way to the final! (I'm assuming he seriously meant the final two...but maybe he just meant the quarter or semifinals). I saw another American saying some other stupid stuff.

Now, our team wasn't bad, but we weren't on a par with those other teams. Some people on Matchcast were blaming the US coach or the US team captain. Maybe it was the coach, or maybe it was the team captain, but it's a team sport. I'm sitting there thinking "you idiots...it's a TEAM game. The whole team has to come together, so blame them all if you're going to play that silly game."

Ghana's team was strong and they've proved it by whipping our butts. They're on various international professional squads and have, what is crucial in the World Cup, which is INTERNATIONAL experience. I say good for them because it's great to see a strong African team make it to the quarter-finals.

I'm just embarrassed hearing Americans opine on a sport they know very little about. I got into it a few years ago and I'm still learning, but I'm not dumb enough to think that the US team was a serious contender at any point in this. I think we could have played stronger. We could have put up a stronger fight, but from the first game against the powerful Czechs we weren't very strong in either offense or defense. Americans just seem to not have a clue that our team got put in one of the hardest draws of them all. So why folks thought we could "pull something out" at the last minute is beyond me.

Don't get me wrong. I love my country (most of the time), however, being abroad has shown me how quickly Americans tend to stick our big foots in our big mouths by opining on things when maybe we should just sit back, watch, listen and learn. Granted, the same could be said for me, this blog and this entry, but I'll call this critical social commentary and that always is an exception, right?

For now I give it to France for an awesome upset! I cannot wait for the final, and I'm hoping to see Germany (and their sexy and tough captain, Michael Ballack (the dark haired one), and that built like a brick wall and hot like lava goal keeper, Jens Lehmann) against France.

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