Against All Enemies Foreign and Domestic
I may or may not find myself in the minority here at Not in HD, but I am a soccer fan.
I love the game of soccer, appreciating its subtleties and marveling at some of the highlights. My biggest problem with soccer is not that it is slow or boring, but rather that there are too many games. You have club teams with league play, in-country tournaments (FA Cup, Copa Del Rey, U.S. Open…), inter-country tournaments (EUFA Champions League, EUFA Cup, SuperLiga…), and exhibition games like the ones witnessed this summer across the U.S. You have international competitions of various importance almost every year. While some contend that all are important, it only proves the point that almost none really are.
If your team loses, it is only a matter of weeks before the next opportunity for redemption presents itself. If you lose in the FA Cup, you are still alive to win the Premiership. If you are struggling in the Premiership, you can still succeed in UEFA. Very rarely do you find a situation where all of your players are in top form with everything on the line, including national pride, with nothing but four years of pain, agony and waiting, hanging in the balance.
Which is why last week’s World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico was so intriguing. So many story lines, so much build-up.
But more than the story lines, more than the dramatics, more than the outcome, the image that has been lingering with me for a week after the game now, is the vision of the U.S. Armed forces in Kuwait, waving Mexican flags in victory following their 2-1 triumph. This was too much of a paradox for my brain to handle.
I guess there are certain lines that cannot be crossed. The solders are willing to serve and die for this country, but please don’t ask them to root for our soccer team. That would just be torture (too hot-button of a word choice, lets go with…) painful.
I can’t quite gauge whether I was upset by the image or not. They are fighting for the freedom to cheer for any team they choose, among other things.
I wondered – have I ever cheered against the U.S. in any other form of international competition?
That thought only serves as a reminder of the irony that is permissible by our laws and ideals, and I’m not sure I would have it any other way. Which I guess is why I was rooting for the red, white and blue in the first place.