Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mariotti on the World Cup

From an article by Jay Mariotti in the Sun Times:

So why even try to be part of the global football culture? Why force-feed ourselves into an elite party when we don't have the pedigree or the passion, when we fail to get a buzz over teams squeezing maybe a minute or two of cumulative excitement out of a 90-minute match? This sports nation in 2006 is about football's speed and hard knocks, basketball's speed and creativity, NASCAR's speed and crashes. If we want to hang out, ponder strategy, drink beer and watch life go by, we attend baseball games and cheer home runs, 1-2-3 innings and catcher-to-catcher knuckle sandwiches.
Soccer? On the food chain, it ranks somewhere above lacrosse and below Sudoku.

Later on, after mentioning how horrible the US team played against the Czech Republic, he adds:

America wasn't ready for the elite world stage and probably never will be, at least in our lifetimes.
It would be wrong to suggest no one in this land cares about the World Cup. In ethnically rich cities such as Chicago, interest is huge in neighborhoods and bars. But the people who drive this U.S. sports engine needed a specific reason to care.
That reason disappeared Monday. Wake me up in four years.
On second thought, don't.

And this is exactly the problem with the mentality in general, not only in sports, in this country. Here is the world’s biggest party, bigger than the Olympics, and the people like Mariotti say, “Eh, we lost to some country I can’t place on a map, I don’t care.” His article starts by talking about how Americans just don’t have the passion for soccer the way other countries do, which is fine. But then he makes the connection that if the US were to win, that would change things. Sure, but doesn’t he know that of the billions of people watching the World Cup, most of them can’t even cheer for their own team?

In Guatemala, we went crazy with the World Cup, we knew the names of all the players, we knew how good they were, and so on. Guatemala has never been in a World Cup. This isn’t just about nationalism or patriotism, this is about the biggest party in the world. It just happens to revolve around soccer.

But Mariotti’s article is spot on when it comes to the American psyche: “Wake me up in four years. On second though, don’t.”

That’s fine, we don’t want any party poopers at this rager.


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