On Soccer, Athletes, and #USA

I will not care about soccer.

I just will not. I won’t. You can’t make me and neither can anyone else in the world.

It is almost a creed for me: I believe in Jesus Christ. I love my family. I treasure books and education. I will not care about soccer.

But, I love my country. If the Winter Olympics are happening and two overweight men from Milwaukee are trying to move a rock on ice with a broom and mop, I will root for those two men to beat the daylights out of those Canadians. or Finns. Or whoever. USA! USA! USA!

Do I care about the political views, bad attitudes, prima donna status, or sexuality of those two overweight men from Milwaukee? Does anyone care about their views on international issues, preschool curriculum, race, or religion? No, no one cares. USA! USA! USA!

Now we are back to soccer, regretfully. Mind you, I don’t care about it, but if Team USA is playing a soccer match anywhere in the world against anyone I will always root for my team: USA! USA! USA!

I do this not because of the athletes playing. In fact, I do this almost in spite of them, for my experience with athletes in my life and what I have seen publicly is that many of them are not very nice people at all. Gifted athletes learn at a young age the rules don’t apply to them, they can get away with anything, they are entitled, selfish, and inherently prone to bullying others. This is true of international sports like soccer and the Olympics but it is also true of professional sports like baseball and football, college athletics, right on down to private school tennis doubles. We all know this, and we also recognize we are not cheering for the athlete as much as we are cheering for the team, the team that represents us. USA! USA! USA!

Perhaps the most American thing in the world is to disagree with someone on politics, religion, or when a banana is ready to be eaten yet still recognize that other person as a part of the American experience. I am afraid those who see the politics of certain women’s soccer players as antithetical to themselves, and then choose to rejoice when those athletes lose, are guilty of the same essential flaw as the athletes they criticize, for they are elevating their own views over a national identity and solidarity. To use a lame metaphor, it is cutting off your nose to spite your face. If sports have any meaningful role in society (and that is, I admit, questionable) that role must be one that unites us, not divides. USA! USA! USA!

So, I was sad when the women’s soccer team lost. We will be back in four years, reloaded with fresh talent. And, I will not watch the matches because I don’t care about soccer. That is one thing you can count on. Yet, you can may also count on the fact that in my heart I will want them to win and for our nation to be at the top of the soccer world. USA! USA! USA!

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