There’s an argument going around among the Left about how we should approach the World Cup. The accepted wisdom says that we should only root for teams that come from former colonies, and under no circumstances should we root for the United States. I can’t really buy this argument. After all, we’re talking about soccer teams, not armies. To view the World Cup in this way is to invest it with more significance than it should have. What’s more, the young people playing these games have nothing to do with what their governments may have done in the past. (I can’t help but point out here that after Algeria lost to the U.S., one of their players slapped a female reporter in the face. Just because someone is from a former colony doesn’t necessarily means he’s saintly.)
Of course, there will be obnoxious displays of patriotism. However, American fans are by no means the worst offenders in this regard. And we won’t have to worry about the tea baggers hopping on the soccer bandwagon. Like their leader, Glen Beck, they probably think that soccer is a foreign plot to corrupt their precious bodily fluids. Which, if you think about it, is actually a good reason to root for the U.S. team.
Update: It’s clear that the U.S. have a way to go before becoming a soccer powerhouse. Ghana simply had a better team. American fans can at least find comfort in the thought that the U.S. didn’t embarrass themselves the way France and Italy did.
At the bar where I watched the game, there was a small group that rooted for Ghana. So much for the claim that American fans are too nationalistic. By the way, I’ve been told that the British tabloids are pumping up England’s game against Germany as a replay of World War II. Oh, brother.
Update 2: A British blog claims that the game was a defeat for U.S. imperialism. I don’t think so. Obama & Co. aren’t going to lose any sleep over a soccer game. However, Dave Zirin has a good article about why it has emotional meaning for Africans.