Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The lines that separate us

As a soccer fan, I'm always on the hunt for soccer, whether it's online, on television or in print. Of course, it's always a hunt because if I rely on the typical and popular sports outlet, I'll be left with nothing.

As a soccer journalist, my livelihood depends on the beautful game. My way of life revolves around soccer and I will spend much of my time between now and November around the game.

I find it strange/ironic/irritating that 90 percent of Americans couldn't give a shit about the beautiful game, which is my passion as both a fan and reporter.

At no time is that more pronounced than today, game day of a U.S.-Mexico match. These are special days to me. They don't happen very often (once or twice a year isn't very often) so I treasure them. I can't remember where I was each of my last 10 or 15 birthdays or the details of Thanksgivings or Christmases over the last decade-plus but I can recall with great clarity where I was for every U.S.-Mexico game since 1995. The emotion and passion and electricity produced by these games is, to me, unmatched.

Yet here we are, preparing to go out in the world or deeply immersed in it already, surrounded by people who honestly could not care less. The lady at the front desk, the guard who stands watch over the parking lot, the annoying guy in the next cubicle, the lady at the checkout counter, your boss, none of them gives a rat's ass.

I guarantee most people out there don't even know it's going on, don't know the hatred many Mexican fans feel toward Landon Donovan, don't know that Mexico draws tens of thousands of fans to these games but still can't beat the U.S., don't know that Hugo Sanchez is 0-2 against the U.S. and that Ricardo Lavolpe, Javier Aguirre and Enrique Meza all failed to beat the U.S. on American soil as well, don't know the emotions this game can produce. They don't know what it feels like when your team's ball hits the back of the net and you vibrate in unending joy, or when the other team scores and you feel like your favorite toy just got smashed to a million pieces.

I've been consumed by this game for weeks, by the rivalry for more than a decade. I've been along for the ride in person and via television, as have many of you. I guess that's why I feel a kinship with you guys, because we both understand what this games means. We both get it, even though many of our friends and co-workers most certainly do not.

Whatever happens tonight, whether you are a US fan or a Mexico fan, it's going to be a great game and a fantastic and memorable ride. Dinner, kids, homework, spouses, chores, bills, everything will take a back seat for a couple of hours. We'll all be immersed in the game, and everyone else is just missing out.

12 comments:

briguy said...

Thanks for this post, LB. This is great stuff, and I know that so many of us visitors to Sideline Views can strongly sympathize with your sentiments.

What a great day today is! Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent for Catholics like me, England v. Switzerland, Ireland v. Brazil, France v. Spain (anyone know whether this will be televised or streamed online??? I'd love to see my beloved Les Bleus, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen), and of course, the cherished nightcap, U.S. v. Mexico.

Who cares if most of the country is oblivious. My DVR is working overtime...

Jon E said...

You know, I love the rivalry, and I'm stoked for the game, but I'm not too frustrated by most people's lack of interest in it. To me it's more important that people have been paying attention to Super Tuesday than Rivalry Wednesday. (Of course, a lot of Americans weren't paying attention to either, which is dismaying.)

Erial FC said...

Even for soccer fans, the U.S.-Mexico matchup might seem more special if they hadn't met twice last year.

For non-soccer fans, meanwhile, let's not forget that ESPN made a HUGE deal out of their World Cup qualifier in the Azteca on Easter, 2005, and after the United States lost...well, Americans don't like losers.

A.C. said...

I'm all groggy from staying up late to watch the Cali and Mo returns.

But the little bit of energy left in me is amped for the game.

Eddie said...

Listen Luis....I meet soccer writers from all over the nation..... after this article... i have to let you know you lne of the best....

Thanks dude,

Eddie Z.

Anonymous said...

to be honest i for one don't care that others may not care...i'm lucky that my co-coworkers are hockey fans, baseball fans, football fans (both), basketball fans and i can appreciate the love they have for their team or sport...i enjoy the sports i enjoy not because the world loves them but because i love them...if 95% of americans don't know about this game so be it because that other 5% will give it the passion it deserves and at the end of the day that's all that matters...

i love to golf and you know what Tiger Woods did for the sport (he fucked it up)...now i have to pay twice as much and wait twice as long just to play...and you know what Beackham did for soccer here...he made it expensive!!! Going to a Galaxy game is more expensive than going to see my beloved Angels. Geeeez

MC said...

That was really well written, perfectly expressive. I love a few sports and soccer is the main one. I'm kinda rare in that I coach soccer and I love NFL football just as much. I cannot wait to watch this game tonight.

Frankie boy said...

I am a fanatical USMNT fan and my wife, born and raised in Mexico, roots for the green weenies :)

Trust me, I'm on my best behavior...we've had moments in my house when my wife dressed my daughter in a green weenie uniform, and I went upstairs and put a Landon Donovan jersey on her...(BTW-you are right that he is the most hated American south of the border with the exception or Senor Bush :))

I also know that if MEX wins I am sure to get a phone call from my 81-year old father in law, but only hear the sweet sound of silence when the USA wins...by the way, he thinks Landon is a great player...

While there is no way my daughter will ever root for MEX against the USA, I had to give in and let her cheer for Chivas USA...although I've become a fan of Pachuca (she actually has cousins in Hidalgo)...

What's sad is how the majority culture doesn't get it, nor do they understand that the day the USA beat Mexico in the 2002 WC it was probably the worst day in Mexico since the Marines were in Mexico City...

Dominghosa said...

I only wish I could have written that better.

Dominghosa said...

errr...hopefully, that reads like a major compliment, which it is.

CACuzcatlan said...

I have no problem with most people ignoring this. I just have a problem with people hating on soccer. I don't like a lot of other sports, but I don't hate on them.

What I really hate is when the people who don't know anything about soccer and ignore the national team for years try to celebrate a victory with us. Eff them. I want to view and celebrate with real fans. USA FTW!

JT (Chicago) said...

Nice one LB. It's their loss. Hope all enjoy, regardless of the result.