I should be previewing the Jamaica-US game, but I have no idea. The US men's national team can beat anyone anywhere, and lose to anyone anywhere. It's really nice to feel good about Jozy Altidore again. If he lays a lemon tonight, that goes away with interest. I hope somebody learned something from the Belgium and Germany games, because all I got was a huge dose of confirmation bias. (Those friendly dates helped make sure my beloved Galaxy were treated like Joe Pesci at the end of "Casino" last weekend, too. Sniff.) So instead, I'm going to tell you all how a black woman should respond to racism.
Wait, no! You see, I've thought about the Sydney Leroux situation, applied my dispassionate and objective analysis, and have come up with many helpful and original insights!
Where are you all going? Can't you see that I'm a pundit?
I should probably just endorse Beau's take, not least because I make a small cameo in it, not least because "poorly chosen celebrations and poorly focused accusations" is a neat phrase.
But it's unfair to Leroux. You'll notice that someone on the receiving end of criticism usually uses the worst, most unfair, and least intelligent to stand in for all the rest. That's pretty much human nature, especially when confronted by the sort of faceless mob one encounters on the Internet. Was Leroux wrong to lump in racist tweets with ugly crowd reactions? Yes, but it's completely understandable.
The problem was that Leroux's statements, taken out of context, are the sort of accusations that get the home team playing in front of a paying audience of nobody. The Canadian Soccer Association has to overreact to this, they owe it to their fans and players. Those charges have to be investigated, and if there are elements of the Canadian women's national team fanbase that indulge in racist outbursts - let alone non-spontaneous, organized multiple racist outbursts - those elements must be expunged.
The USSF has helpfully stood by Leroux, and equally helpfully pointed out that Leroux's shushing gesture was not meant towards the people she was shushing, but fans on the other side of the continent over a year before. Oh. (US Soccer's helpful mood does not extend to putting said statement on its website.)
Except, ho ho, Leroux and the Americans played five times in Vancouver in January 2012, only once against Canada. It's almost as if there's not a realistic way to get to the bottom of who said what to whom. The New York Times did a write-up of Leroux, mentioned the criticism she received, and for some reason missed the racial angle entirely. If it's fair to sympathize with Leroux for the ridiculous criticisms she's gotten, it's also fair to sympathize with the CSA. It's one thing for Leroux to lash out at Canadian racists (or, for all we know, Central American racists who were in Canada for the week - Sydney put five past Guatemala in one of those games) - it's inexcusable for the USSF to simultaneously back up and obscure the accusations.
Did it happen? Well, I suppose the CSA can go over ten hours or so of footage from a year ago. Or the USSF can be a teeny bit more specific. I'm guessing neither will happen.
The other reason that I'm inclined to give Leroux the benefit of the doubt, if not a complete free pass, is the poor quality and lack of respect she's been given from the non-foul mouthed community. There has been a good deal of ill-advised posturing along patriotic grounds, the worst and creepiest of which had to deal with speculation of how Leroux's Canadian mother handled the situation. Gerry Dobson, "Sportsnet's voice of Canadian soccer and English Premier League in Canada since 1998," has since scrubbed this Tweet, but this is what he said:
My final word on Leroux. I’ve been wondering, what does her mother think, deep down inside? We’ll probably never know.
The same mother that, unsurprisingly, supported Leroux every step of the way to the US national team.
No one asked Roy Wegerle what his mother thought when he chose the United States. American fans have been incensed - and yeah, rightly - over Giuseppe Rossi, but no one's put him through Freudian analysis. The "deadbeat dad" chants weren't just creepy, they were chants that a male player wouldn't get. Canada's many, many, many less-than-prodigal sons, from Hargreaves to Teal Bunbury to Jonathan de Guzman, were called horrible and generally accurate epithets of the sort Rossi has received from us - daddy issues never came up once. If we're going to give Leroux the same sort of abuse we give male players - and we should. If they don't like it, Cirque du Soleil is ready when they are - then we should also respect the motivations for their decisions, however violently we disagree with them.
Oh, and apparently you're allowed to call someone the c-word up there. Who knew?