Ruben Navarette, Jr., nationally syndicated columnist, has taken time out to mix sports and scolding, exhorting Mexico fans not to boo the United States.
Well, I for one disagree. In fact, I hereby give permission - nay, encouragement - for immigrants everywhere to boo any US team as much as they please.
Navarette, who was not at the Gold Cup Final, leans heavily on the Los Angeles Times column of the game written by Bill Plaschke.
Wait a minute, half of a syndicated CNN column was dedicated to a block quote of another columnist? And they call bloggers lazy!
Anyway, here are the last seven paragraphs of Navarette's column. Hey, apparently big-time writers are above things like paraphrasing:
I will leave it to others more qualified than I to discuss whether buying a stupid black jersey with a Manchester United player's nickname on the back is somehow more political than marching with Cesar Chavez. The big disconnect here is that Navarette, and plenty of otherwise functional adults, feel that the US national team has a God-given right to unquestioning loyalty.
Don't tell anyone I told you this, but it's not REALLY the United States of America out there kicking the ball.
Intellectually we grasp that the city of San Francisco did not actually beat the state of Texas in the World Series, but rather a private organization of professionals based in one community defeated another located elsewhere. Intellectually we understand that we don't actually get the gold medals that Michael Phelps won for us. And intellectually, everyone understands that the fortunes of our national team affect the ship of state about as much as a mosquito trying to ******** an aircraft carrier.
Emotionally, of course, it's a different deal entirely. The valley between sports and reality is uncanny enough, but if we truly did not want our flag and country scorned, and if we truly feel that cheering against our country's team is somehow disrespectful, we should demand that the United States pull out of international competition. To play the game risks losing, and there will never be a situation where someone isn't cheering against us. If it's truly a national crisis when it happens, then we shouldn't let it happen.
Or we can try to accept that the United States Soccer Federation is a branch office of the FIFA monopoly who, like nearly every other sports enterprise, uses its community as a marketing tool.
And it's extremely effective. Without the patina of patriotism, Hope Solo would not have made it to the cover of Sports Illustrated. But there's a qualitative difference between sports loyalty and national loyalty.
Thousands of trees and trillions of electrons have been killed by people making the point that sports loyalties are held very, very deeply. So it's unfair to ask people to lightly turn those aside. It's perfectly understandable for someone to love their adopted country while maintaining superficial, trivial links to the past. And sports are trivial.
Navarette seems concerned with how it looks to see Mexico fans booing the United States, but that's international soccer for you. Navarette doesn't ask English immigrants to cheer for Seattle against Manchester United, or Canadians to switch hockey loyalties. Presumably because there aren't politicians making careers out of saying Canadians are a threat to American culture.
Because we lost that war already
"Hey," you might say, or some similar interjection, "no one's saying Mexico fans can't cheer for Mexico. We're just saying they shouldn't boo the United States."
And I say it's fantastic that they boo the United States. I don't know when and how the US will win the World Cup, but I know they won't do it with players who can't handle being booed once in a while. In fact, I'd be ashamed to cheer for someone who took being booed personally.
This is sports. This is soccer. Being booed is a compliment. It means you are considered a threat. It means you are a rival worthy of notice. It's not imitation, but having a bottle of urine hurled at you, that is the sincerest form of flattery.
Well, okay, maybe not.
But do we really want to shame our opponents into silence? At what price? This rivalry has sparked a renaissance of both teams. The United States has been the best thing that's ever happened to Mexico. Now, to the casual observer, it looks like Mexico is poised for a good ten years of dominance, unless the US answers the bell. If those ten years pass by without jeers, catcalls, and mocking posts on BigSoccer, where is the incentive to improve?
Besides, I want US fans to be fully committed. What's the fun in sitting next to someone who's cheering for the US out of some sense of misguided obligation? Soccer is love. If you are neither hot nor cold, you will be spewed out.
But let's say for a moment that the USSF does somehow represent the United States in some truly meaningful way.
What does the United States actually stand for?
Ask yourself - what brings people to America in the first place? What would your ancestors say, if you asked them?
"The potatoes all died."
Okay, but -
"God sent us to this virgin land, away from Anabaptist filth."
Well, that's not precisely -
"I wanted to kill Apaches."
That's awful! Look, I'm -
"This gunboat sailed up, and some dude said 'You're Americans now.'"
No! Freedom! People became Americans because they wanted to be free! That's -
"I was enslaved."
....well, okay, not everyone -
"I wanted to own slaves."
Okay, stop asking your ancestors now.
"The CIA offered me amnesty from war crimes if I worked on the H-bomb program."
Stop! Stop it!
The point is, the ideals that America were built on revolve around freedom. And that means freedom of speech.
You know what, this was said many years before, by a far greater man than I. Allow me to quote his words, which are still so very true today:
I, for one, refuse to police the thoughts and emotions of other fans. Instead, it is my job to be the be the best fan I can be. Instead of telling others not to boo, let's us cheer louder.
Goals, goals, goals, for the red, white and blue....
....wait, Shatner is Canadian? My God! They're everywhere. At least we still have Nickelback.