Monday, June 12, 2006

Well, I Haven’t Been-to-Prague Been to Prague, But I Know That Thing…

I had started writing something earlier about how I love the World Cup. Now, I feel like a guy whose girlfriend is studying abroad in Europe who gets a letter from her about the really deep and romantic guy she met in, well, Prague.

Czech Republic 3, USA 0.

Still, I do love the World Cup. I love most international athletic competitions (I watched hours of curling back in February), but the World Cup is a bit unique. Flights of lyricism about the beauty of the human soul and the beautiful game are all over the internets, but this isn’t one of them. Quite frankly, I don't much care for soccer (I don't have anything against it, but I don't have anything for it, either). But it doesn't matter because, for me, it isn't even about the soccer.

I like the World Cup because it allows me to do two things that are hardwired into my American consciousness, but which usually are in conflict: engage in guilt-free jingoism and root for the underdog. As a nation, we love the underdog. Many of our cultural myths celebrate the triumph of the underdog through force of will, from Horatio Alger to Hoosiers. But let’s face it, we’re America. Globally speaking, we’re the New York Yankees. We’re bigger, stronger, and richer than any other nation on the planet, and, as such, we can’t be considered the underdog in, really, anything.

Except international soccer.

It’s the sport that the rest of the world cares the most about, and we have no hope of winning without a miracle. Team USA…underdogs. I love everything about it. Except when we lose to the freaking Czechs.

Plus, the World Cup quadrenially gives rise to one of my favorite bar arguments, about who would play for Team USA if, like every other country in the world, the best athletes this nation produced played soccer.

International pageantry, guilt-free jingoism, love of the underdog, and interesting bar argument fodder, all provided every four years by the World Cup. What’s not to love?

And if you don’t think Allen Iverson would have completely redefined the striker position as we know it, you’re out of your mind.

6 comments:

CrimeNotes said...

I'm glad you're here to balance me out. I'm working on a post with very different conclusions. Here's a preview:

If the U.S. wins the tournament, approximately 1 million Americans will be excited. Nerds at Slate and The New Republic will have an excuse to scribble truisms about globalization. Then, everyone will roll over, go to sleep, and wake up thinking about either 1.) the start of football season, or 2.) the November elections. If Angola or Portugal were to win the World Cup, my guess is that it would be something like a national holiday, like an entire country of Red Sox fans a day after winning the World Series.

What do I think when I read about Americans liking the World Cup? I think that we're a terminally spoiled country, and that we want to go in and muck up something that the rest of the world enjoys.


What allusion am I missing in your headline?

Crunk Raconteur said...

It's the beginning, I thought, of an appropriate quote.

Upon hearing that his girlfriend is going to choose studying in Prague over living with him, Grover embarks on a fantastic rant.

Grover: Oh, I've been to Prague. Well, I haven't "been to Prague" been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, "Stop shaving your armpits, read the Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is thing..."
Jane: They have good beer there.
Grover: "... now I know how bad American beer is thing."

CrimeNotes said...

Coincidentally, I Tivo'd the true and original Kicking and Screaming a couple months back after not having seen it since college. It's a very nice, sentimental movie. Couldn't quote any dialogue from it, though.

CrimeNotes said...

It's also getting a DVD release in August...

Crunk Raconteur said...

The DVD release is excellent. I have the VHS of it somewhere (I'm guessing, wherever it is I have my VHS tapes), but do not currently have a device on which to play it.

But I just noticed something. I couldn't just say it was from Kicking and Screaming, since now that is frequently confused with a Will Ferrell movie about...soccer.

And it all comes full circle here at CSB.

CrimeNotes said...

I can't tell you how many times in the last month or so I've seen a listing for Kicking and Screaming on HBO, felt excited for a half-second, then realized that of course it's the Will Ferrell movie.