Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oh Noes, The U.S. Is Being Rooted On By Americans

So I made the mistake today of reading one of those contrary Slate clickbait pieces of instant dumbness, this one from the ground in Brazil, where the writer described the phenomenon of Road U.S. Fan making Neutral Brazilian Fans root for Ghana with their sheer numbers and vociferousness. This led the writer to make the point that Americans are no longer severe underdogs in world futbol, so if we ever win this game, it's going to be one more moment of us taking something that the world needs so much, much more.

Yes, I told you it was a mistake.

Here's a central truth of all sporting events: Demonstrative Road Fan is never loved by the locals. Sure, the restaurants and hotels and hookers might be happy when these people come to town and spend the cash, and DRF is easy to take in small numbers... but as soon as these folks get numerous enough to take over your yard, the cuteness factor drops to zero.

Oh, and do you know what it would mean to the rest of the world if the U.S. somehow put together the run of their lives and bring home the cup? After about a week or so, nothing. Maybe a few more kids grow up wanting to stay with the sport, or the advertising community throws more money at FIFA (oh dear), or MLS gets a few more paying fans and keeps a few more players, but there is no Sudden Age of U.S. Futbol Dominance.

It's a game. It has winners and losers and is a lot of fun to watch because it's a game, but the greater ramifications of What It All Means is always a mistake and overestimated. I'm glad that the U.S. feels supported in Brazil, and that more of my countrymen and women are traveling abroad, because the U.S. players seem like decent enough mercenaries, and travel broadens the mind. But you really don't need to make this bigger than it is, because it's plenty big enough already. Check out the TV ratings, which had more sets watching U.S. v. Portugal than the World Series or NBA Finals (and, um, that's inevitable, because those sports are regional, and no team has a true national audience).

Game is enough. Everything else, the Not Game, is useful for raising crops, and not much else. Always is, always has been, always will be. Moving on.

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