Revolution #242, August 14, 2011
U.S. vs. Mexico Soccer:
A Commentary on "Red, White and Boo"
I thought your readers might find some interest in what happened at the recent U.S. vs. Mexico men's Gold Cup soccer game which took place in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a city just north of Los Angeles. The day after the game, there was an article in the sports page of the Los Angeles Times titled "Red, White and Boo" by Bill Plaschke, who is also a regular talking head on the ESPN show "Around the Horn." Plaschke's article could have been called "Soccer, fractures, 'misplaced loyalties' and home field advantage."
Plaschke wrote that being in the Rose Bowl that day was like being in the Staples Center, where the Lakers play, full of Boston Celtics fans, the Lakers' number one enemy or like being in Chavez Ravine stadium where the L.A. Dodgers play baseball being filled with S.F. Giants fans who locals call "the hated ones." Then he goes on to ask "...is it really right for folks who live here to boo and cheer as if they don't?" He felt betrayed by the crowd. Supposedly, you can choose to root, cheer or boo for whoever you want to. But there's something deeper going on here, sports is part of the political and ideological superstructure of society, where people are trained in a certain way of thinking, which values to have or not have, who the so-called "good guys" are, and who the so-called "bad guys" are, who to root for and who to boo... my team, my city, my country. This is discussed in greater detail in Chairman Avakian's talk "The NBA: Marketing the Minstrel Show and Serving the Big Gangsters."
The Rose Bowl was filled to capacity. The fans couldn't wait for the Mexican team to come out. It was anticipated Mexico would win. They have the better team. But to Plaschke the only thing that mattered was "this is the USA" and the fans should root for the home team—end of the story; end of the debate. Angered and disappointed he wrote "what other country would have the visiting team get the edge?" That is part of what you count on in playing on your home turf, but the fans became an extension of Mexico's team and took the advantage away from the U.S. The sound of people chanting Olé, olé drowned out the chants of USA.
Here is one of the ironies at the Rose Bowl. Over 80,000 of the 93,000 people in the stands were booing the home team. The U.S. lost the home field advantage and this had an impact on the U.S. team's psyche and they became discombobulated and unraveled—even though they went up 2-0 early in the game, they ended up losing 4-2. Everything the U.S. team did was met with an overwhelming chorus of boos and everything the Mexico team did was met with an overwhelming chorus of cheers. Now the U.S. team lost because Mexico's team was the better team. But one of the things that happens a lot of times in sports is when you are on your opponent's home field, your best players want the ball to soar to new heights and raise their level of play of their own team and, in that way, silence the crowd and in doing so take the home court advantage from them. But in this situation the U.S. team was unable to rise to the occasion.
On another deeper level, this is a big fracture in the social cohesion of the U.S. Where's your loyalty? That is a big fracture down the middle of it that could splinter at any time. You can see it. It could be one of the things that splinters the whole thing. It is one of the things that holds their society together. It's not the only thing but it is one of the things. On one level it is funny but on a deeper level it shows how tenuous their fabric is. How it can come apart quickly, suddenly watching a soccer game and shit like that. You could see it become unraveled. That fracture can just splinter and keep splintering. Everything starts splintering in all kinds of directions.
Some people think the people should be arrested for rooting for Mexico. "The gall of people living in the U.S. rooting for Mexico." Even some people doing it said they felt conflicted 'cause they grew up in the U.S. but rooted for Mexico. One man said, "I came here as a little kid, I didn't have any choice but to come here as a little kid. I grew up here, but my heart is with Mexico."
On another level rooting for the home team guts the contestation in sports. People get trained and they don't appreciate watching somebody who is better. They can't appreciate and acknowledge the athleticism involved. If you can't appreciate that you really can't appreciate sports. What kind of thinking is that? What kind of logic is that?
Contestation, let the best bring out the best and appreciate that and let everybody acknowledge and recognize that. That is what is going on. And be able to celebrate that. Celebrate it even if you were rooting for the opposing team. You can't even appreciate something like that. You can't even appreciate the beauty of something if you don't start from what is true. You can't really take part in the enjoyment of it. It is something that is great and grand and it is going on right in front of your eyes. Great plays, athleticism. People soaring to the heights. You can't take that all in and appreciate it for what it is.
You are cut off from enjoying the reality and its movement and changes—really, the beauty that lies within it.
Plaschke is trying to train people with his "Red, White, and Boo" article. But it's not just him. Team USA #1 is all throughout the superstructure (e.g. in politics, culture, and yes, sports). The U.S. has many fractures, this is just one that we are talking about here. They have many, many. How could it not given what it is? Many, many potential fractures in this motherfucker. That's why there "is another way" if you really look at it.
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