Thursday, February 05, 2009

a pin in your football

With the exception of American Mommy in Mexico, the Mexico blogs I read regularly did not even mention the Super Bowl this year.

I know I didn't. It barely made a cameo appearance in my sermon on Sunday.

But there is some interesting sports news that has trans-border possibilities.

On 11 February the U.S. soccer team and the Mexican fútbol team will meet in a World Cup qualifying match. Now, those of you who do not follow soccer (a term I will use because using "football" in this context carries enough political baggage that the sports story will get lost -- just like the Olympics) will probably be surprised to discover that the U.S. team is favored to beat the Mexican team.

Surprising, to me, at least, because anyone who has watched a group of Mexican schoolboys knows that soccer appears to be part of the Mexican XY gene pool -- a heritage earned the hard way with Aztec stone rings and their deadly consequences for losers. Compare that with the soccer preppy American kids learn. That may also explain why some of the names on the American roster sound a bit less-than-WASPish. Hey! If we can't raise them, we can always buy them.

But history indicates that the Americans have a leg up: winning nine and losing only two of the last 14 matches. Mexico is often a prisoner of its own history, and the soccer pitch appears to be little different.

Plus the teams hate one another. The intensity is so strong this season that Oswaldo Sanchez made less-than-complimentary remarks about Landon Donovan’s mother. The U.S. striker returned the favor by urinating on the field at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara -- almost inciting a riot. Boys will be -- delinquents. (Where did we put that can of spray paint?)

And, of course, there is the long history of the big brother-little brother relationship wrapped in the big enchilada of the 1848 unpleasantness. The Russia-Poland, Italy-France rivalries come to mind.

That may explain why Radio Shack, a Fort Worth-based American corporation, got caught up in the emotions of this match. Its Mexican subsidiary and a Mexican newspaper promoted the voodoo doll kit pictured at the top of this post -- designed to improve Mexico's chances by jinxing the opposition.

Yup! That is an American player, just waiting to have pins poked into parts that should not even be in play during a match. Remember the Absolut Mexican map advertisement that caused American talk shows to go apoplectic? Well, it happened again.

The result? Radio Shack decided to withdraw the offer with the brave corporate voice that has made Americans such a business force throughout the world: "We wish the very best of luck to Mexico, the U.S., and all teams in the final round of regional qualifying for next year's tournament." Miss America could not have delivered a sweeter world peace speech.

So, the match will go on. Voodoo aficionados will need to search out a back alley priestess to hex the pesky Yanks.

I am a bit more surprised that our conspiracy-minded buddy, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has not charged the U.S. of fixing the match. Look where it is being held. Crew Stadium. Columbus. Ohio. 11 February. Outside.

It is 18 degrees (fahrenheit) there today. Admittedly, the forecast is for 46 degrees on the 11th. But at least half of these young men are raised to believe that when the weather drops into the 70s, you break out the ski parkas.

Ah, well. It promises to be an interesting -- if not good -- match. If I had a television, I would watch it. But, I don't. And it will not be interesting enough to find an available set.

I will wait for the next corporate voodoo headline.


Islagringo said...

I can't wait for the 11th! It is going to be crazy here. I'm kind of hoping that Mexico wins.

Larry Lambert said...

I struggled through 30 years of US soccer, first as a player then as a referee. It took a long time for it to receive the respect it was due, so I have a soft spot for the team from NOB. However, being as where I live now, it will be hard to not cheer for my new home team.

Larry Lambert, Mazatlan

Anonymous said...

having been a soccer mom for years, i found that post very interesting. i finally got a t.v but am only using it to watch movies so don't think i'll ge to watch the game either.

did you get my fundraising letter? just wondering because i've been having problems with e-mails ending up in cyberspace.


Steve Cotton said...

Islagringo and Larry -- I fully understand the urge to go native. The same ting happened to me when I lived overseas (and probably will again). On the other hand, the tale of the St. Patrick's Battalion may be an object lesson for those of us who would abandon our native army in the midst of battle. I just hope there is no Winfield Scott lurking in our future.

Teresa -- I got your email. I will be sending a response via snail mail.

Linda Lou said...

hola, steve,
i absolutely laughed my head off here. that will be an all time favorite post of mine forever..........with both senor and myself being former futbol players, coaches and refs, we are struggling over how to get to a tv on that day. we are even tossing around a short hotel trip to Navajoa or Obregon just for the game.
I answered your church question on my post......FM3 and Church.
linda lou

Steve Cotton said...

Glad you enjoyed the post. I had fun writing it.

I need to get in touch with you. I was going to use your volunteer work following the hurricane as an example in a speech I am giving next week. More later.

Todd said...

Super Bowl???


Sounds like bowling...

Are you sure it's not about bowling???

Steve Cotton said...

Todd -- I told someone the other day that I stopped watching the Super Bowl when they stopped showing it on my birthday week. And then I realized that was 1979 -- the same year I graduated from law school. We do age ourselves -- or maybe that is time that ages us. I forget.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

We will have to remember to watch the 2/11 game from our Mx TV! I wonder who the boys will cheer for ...

Steve Cotton said...

AMM -- If I had to bet, my money would be on the boys rooting for Mexico. There is nothing quite so exhilirating as joining into local passions.