Picking a National Team: An American Phenomenon

In my young life, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have done a bit of travelling, mainly in South America and Europe.  Along my travels, I am always very perceptive to the soccer culture of the region, both for club and country.  While club loyalties vary heavily due to globalization or what have you, support for one’s national team seems to be fairly unanimous amongst the entirety of the population (except Spain and their regional autonomy problems).  However, growing up in the United States, in Southern California specifically, many soccer fans feel it is their prerogative to “pick” which national team they support based on their family’s ethnic or immigration history, or simply by supporting the national team of their favorite player.  Somehow, this does not seem fair, nor right.
Growing up in Southern California, several of my teammates/ friends were of Mexican descent and therefore, supported the Mexican National Team.  Of these individuals some were actually born in Mexico and have dual citizenship, so I completely understand how they identified more with the Mexican team than with that of the US.  These are not the fans I am talking about in this entry.  I might even go so far to say I could sympathize with first generation Americans whose parents hailed from Mexico, and therefore grew up in a culturally Mexican household, and whose soccer allegiances followed suit (and this is still a maybe and I judge on a case by case basis).  Where the line should definitely be drawn is for US citizens whose family immigrated from Mexico or any other country two, three, or four generations ago, and simply root for a foreign national team because they are better than the US, or because rooting for the US is not cool.  What’s worse, many of these US citizens who root for foreign national teams tend to disrespect or mock not only the US National Team, but the nation as a whole.  Even if you do support another country’s national team, and you feel justified in doing so, how could you justify disrespecting the nation you live in?  Why disrespect the same nation that your family immigrated to for a better life, while supporting so fervently a land that has given you nothing, and a land whose language you may not even speak or a land that you may have never been to?  While I understand we all live in a nation where this practice is rampant and you are not going to be jailed or fined for doing so, here are a few reasons why you should consider supporting the nation of your birth:
First, since you were born here, grew up here, and are a citizen of this nation, I would bet that there is not another nation in the world that you know as well as the United States.  Which in turn means you probably identify most with the United States, whether you want to admit it or not.  If this is true, then you would identify most with members of the USMNT, because they grew up in the same nation as you, and for the most part, have a similar way of thinking as you do.  Sure you might be proud of your Italian heritage, but if your great-great-grandpa Silvio immigrated here way back when, you probably do not have that much in common with your everyday Italian citizen in 2011 (these guys do not count…nor does this guy).  And since national teams are, in theory, supposed to represent people like them, you should root for the United States, because this is the group of players most like you.
Second, what is great about the USMNT, is that it is a relatively diverse group of players.  Even though several of our politicians like to think and, therefore, act like the United States is a nation of white Christians, our USMNT is not oblivious to the makeup of our population, and is a more accurate representation of the demographics of our country.  Which means you would be supporting a truly American team, in the sense that we are a collection of immigrants, and our ethnically, religiously, geographically, politically diverse team represents that.
Third, how nice would it be to know that you have rooted for the United States, and only the United States, your entire life when the USMNT finally wins something of importance, like say a World Cup (I fully understand we probably won’t even come close until I’m 150, and if somehow Brazil has become the 51st state, but I’m just hoping medical nano-bots can keep me alive long enough to see it happen).  Imagine telling your grand kids after the US wins the 2114 World Cup played on the Moon, with an extreme sense of pride, that you rooted for the USMNT team back when it was not in vogue, simply because you were American and that was your team.  It would be awesome.
By no means am I one of those fans/ people who say that if you do not root for the USMNT than you should get out of the country.  That’s stupid and ignorant.  But, I am one of those fans who believes that if you are a citizen and/or live here, wether recently immigrated or been here your entire life, you should at least support and respect the US as a nation, if not as a national soccer team.  We all live in the richest nation in the world, and we all benefit from that and are better off than our ancestors who came here seeking a better life.  So stand up and take your hat off for the national anthem of the US.  Write CONCACAF an angry email, telling them your humiliated and feel disrespected that the entire closing ceremony of the Gold Cup was done in Spanish rather than in both Spanish and English (I personally think that we should not offer to hold the Gold Cup again until we receive a sincere, formal apology from every board member of CONCACAF, and they donate $20 million to our government.  If not, I would love to see CONCACAF try to host a tournament of that size in a nation like Grenada or Belize).  People like Scoop Jackson (clink on his name, you’ll want to read his article)  may not agree with me, but we both can state our opinion, which makes this nation great, and another reason we should support, or at least, respect this nation.  By not respecting the nation you live in, the nation that has given so much to us and all of our families, then, as Tim Howard so eloquently put it, that’s “a f#*@ing disgrace.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *