Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Yoo ess ey
Today I was home sick, with an ailment that I.. don't... really... want... to.... discuss. So I watched the day's Women's World Cup Round of 16 matches. If you are thinking I faked sick to watch these games, well, I can see how you would, but there is a lot of soccer in this world, and The Women's World Cup Round of 16 is not going to be a "fake sick" level event. I am actually legitimately at home and fairly uncomfortable, but it's a little embarrassing to discuss with exactly what, so can we please move on already?
Let's talk about Spain vs. The U.S.A.
I was rooting for the wild underdogs that were Spain. They lost even though they had the only thing I'm willing to consider a real goal in the game; a beautifully composed shot lofted patiently over the keeper by the occasionally quite excellent Jenny Hermoso. The U.S. scored their two goals off of penalties, the second of which was rather dodgy even if not outright unfair, which sums up soccer about 80 percent of the time.
Here, that's important:
Soccer is a beautiful game of skill that's strangely dodgy about 80 percent of the time.
But instead of merely seeing a team I was rooting for fall to defeat, I brought myself back from despair and from my default total fatalism on the strength of my will and the following points:
Spain played close to level with a team wildly outclassing them and can certainly hold their heads high.
Players aside, the American fans deserved it. That's right, the American fans deserved this!
"What!" You cry. "The Americans are the neighborhood bullies, fat with their success, violence, and hegemony. How can they deserve anything!"
Despite being sympathetic to this point of view I'd like to point out that this is the still mildly obscure and developing sport of Women's Soccer. It's progressive. It speaks to equal rights and girl power. One of the U.S. players, the talented Megan Rapinoe, was the first white athlete to take a knee. This is a positive and growing sport. And yet as I watched game after game of these early matches, of this essential, rare, epic tournament, I was horrified to see largely empty stadiums. Sure, the French games had good crowds as this world cup takes place across France and France are among the favorites. And one can't expect Nigeria or Thailand to put a ton of fans in the seats of their games. But Spain? Spain is right next door to France. Spain is merely a long, pleasant drive up the European Highway to see their wonderfully improving team, in their nation's far and away favorite sport, in the World Cup.
But who was in that Spain v. USA audience?
It was packed with Americans, all of them flown on miserable, shitty airlines and paying all kinds of exorbitant, hyper in season prices. That stadium was full of dedicated American fans, fans who had made an effort. Fans who had suffered for it. Maybe they deserved a victory.
And maybe the tenacious, slightly violent Spanish team could have pulled that upset off, if only they had the cheers of their hopeful countrymen urging them on, instead of merely the mighty, disheartening chants of "U.S.A.!" thundering in their ears.