WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
This is NOT a retraction… I am not a journalist, I do not report the truth or what I think is the truth, I just write what I think.
And right now, I think I love soccer.
Now wait, before you start buying me my own Manchester United football jersey, I feel I need to clarify things. I love soccer because of what happened on Thursday. Believe me, if Landon Donovan had thrown his eighth stone closest to the button to win the final game in curling or had hit the bulls-eye on the final target of the biathlon, I would be writing about my love for either of those sports.
This is why I love soccer: because of the nationalism that was exhibited around this nation last week, as millions of fans pulled in one direction, for the USA. And I will have you know that despite my email of a few weeks ago, I was actually listening to the match on the radio when the historic goal was scored by #10.
I watched a video online (and I am sure there are many of them) that shows clips of groups of Americans reacting to the goal all over the country. The reactions, the excitement, the elation were enough to give me goosebumps. (Although I did find it interesting that one of the videos I watched had the fan reactions set to music from a baseball movie; I’m just saying…)
But it was more than that. It was the sense of community, the sense of being a part of something, of everyone jumping on the same bandwagon. And I am confident that many of the people celebrating were not die-hard soccer fans, but were fans of America. That is what was truly inspiring about it.
Think back to times in history when the entire nation banded together for a common goal, when everyone was affected the same way by an event. Now, how many of those events were positive events?
I remember this same sense of nationalism on 9/11. I remember it in 1986 with the Challenger disaster. I am sure the United States was like this on December 7, 1941. I remember it, on a smaller scale, in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake. Those were times when the nation pretty much stopped moving in order to be a part of these events. It was like that on Thursday when the game-winning goal was scored. The nation stopped, even just for a moment, to celebrate as one.
I thought this was especially prescient given the fact that we will be celebrating the 4th of July at the beginning of next week. Even the 4th of July, to me, pales in comparison to the Donovan goal. Many people lose sight of the purpose of the 4th of July and what it commemorates. Instead we think of fireworks, of drinking beer, and of not wanting to be on the roads for fear of drunk-drivers. We think of pool parties and barbecues and the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. (My money is on Joey Chestnutt to win for the third straight year, by the way.)
But we don’t think of the 4th of July as uniting the country like it should. Landon Donovan’s goal did just that. This might be the event of my lifetime where I will be able to say exactly where I was when it happened. Everyone remembers where they were when bad things happened. JFK assassination, the Challenger disaster, 9/11… all heart-breaking events. But when a good thing happened? Makes for a much more satisfying memory.
So for that reason, I love soccer. I can’t wait to see how this country erupts when the USA wins the World Cup. Wait, they lost to Ghana? Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Have a great week and a safe and enjoyable 4th. Celebrate what makes this country so great. Need a refresher? Look to the Bill of Rights and number 1 stares right at you: in other countries, I might not have the freedom to even send out this email and post these blogs… Imagine how less fulfilling your life would be without my posts to read!