U-S-A! U-S-A! Uh…What Game Are We Watching Again? The World Cup & the Joys of Fair-Weather Fandom

I can feel it happening again. That un-earned pride. That need to boast. 

“Did you SEE that goal against Ghana?

In the first MINUTE? Yeah, that was Clint Dempsey.

Yup–plays for Seattle. He’s our boy.”

Like I’ve ever been to a Sounders game! Or any pro soccer game! Hey, I mean to, I really do. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But that doesn’t mean my pride in Team USA, and its northwestern components, is any less real.

(orig. image courtesy Erik Drost)

(orig. image courtesy Erik Drost)

Most English-language news stories I’ve heard about the World Cup have centered around the fact that this game seems to finally, maybe, perhaps, at last be catching on with TV viewers: a record 11 million-plus watched that first game, according to ESPN and Forbes. And they’re right, that is a story, though I’d be curious to see an ethnic breakdown to find out how much of that viewership is Mexican by heritage. Either way, it is indisputable that soccer is more popular as a TV sport now than ever before.

But that 11 million? It didn’t include me! I was traveling and didn’t even watch the game. A fact that takes nothing away from my ridiculous sense of pride in the victory. What IS up with that?

Personally, I think the real evidence that Americans have embraced the sport will be when our announcers start referring to the teams in the plural, like the English do: “Team USA have fought bravely tonight…” Could be a long wait.

But meantime? I’ll be happily tuning in, or NOT tuning in and feeling just as good when “my” team wins–especially on last-minute headers by 21 year-old bench players. It worked for me with the 2001 Seattle Mariners when they won 116 games, and again this year when the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl. My fair-weather bandwagonning doesn’t seem to hurt anyone, and if it’s annoying, well, no one’s told me yet to my face, so I’ll keep on cheering from the sidelines…kinda-sorta.

USA soccer? What’s it doing for you? Notice any changes in your fellow Americans? Please share!


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