Sunday, June 28, 2009

Soccer, America, and South Africa

Today the American soccer team, after some surprising and unexpected outcomes, is going to play in the championship game of the Confederations Cup against highly esteemed Brazil. A victory here would be on par with the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game at the 1980 Olympics, as Brazil has traditionally been a world powerhouse in soccer. The U.S.A. has never been a powerhouse in soccer internationally.

It surprised me this morning to read this article about Americans in South Africa and their excitement about the game:

JOHANNESBURG -- It is a grand old flag -- a gift from a family friend -- but for 11 years as an American living in South Africa, private equity investor Greg Durst has not dared wave his impressive 9-foot-by-5-foot Old Glory farther than his own porch on the Fourth of July. Like many expatriates overseas, he's been laying low in the face of anti-American sentiment.

But for Yanks in these parts, the spirit of Independence Day has come early in this age of Obama with the U.S. soccer team's improbable "miracle on grass" win leading to Sunday night's upcoming sold-out Confederations Cup final against the fancy-footed Brazilian powerhouse.

"Suddenly, we're all Americans again," says Durst, who hopes to wave his Stars and Stripes -- a newly hot commodity -- at Coca-Cola Park stadium (formerly Ellis Park) if he can scrounge up tickets for the game.

Perhaps Greg's sentiments were taken out of context by the reporter—I don't know—but I was a bit disturbed by one phrase in each paragraph. Specifically:

"He's been laying low in the face of anti-American sentiment." Laying low? Why would anyone want to live and work in a place where they have to "lay low" because they are American? I can understand the desire not to be thought of as a stereotypical pushy American, but there's a wide and happy medium between these.

"...has come early in this age of Obama..." What, pray tell, does he have to do with this?!?!? More than anything else in the story, this tells you something about the reporter's political proclivities. reporters typically do a good job of keeping politics out of sports reporting, but the editors dropped the ball badly here.

"Suddenly, we're all Americans again." Coupled with a later sentence, "It's good to be an American again, but it's even better to know someone with tickets," I had the thought, Since when was it ever bad to be an American? Unlike certain people I could mention in the entertainment media and the left-wing political establishment, I am not, and never have been, embarassed to be an American, or desirous to hide that fact. Even with its flaws (and there are enough of them), this is the greatest nation on earth! I should be thankful and proud to be an American, no matter where I am or what I am doing!

And, of course, I hope that the U.S.A. beats Brazil soundly.

1 comment:

Peter Matesevac said...

Frankly, the fact that America seeks world recognition in the sport of soccer is shameful.