Sunday, July 13, 2014

Soccer -- A New American Sport?

A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter wrote an article on her favorite past-time, hating soccer. Her nine point banter in sum described soccer as a foreign, savage, liberal sport promoting weakness, peace and equality; lacking in individual achievement. Thus promoting the moral decay of this country. For her a sport should promote individuality, inequality among genders, violence ("sublimated warfare" - as she described), 'Us v. Them', a gentleman's sport such as Football or Hockey. While she poorly attempts to link soccer as a sign of the moral downfall of our society, her ideal features of what a sport should be are what is wrong with our society as a whole. And instead what she attacks is exactly what we should take as an example to move further.

Soccer is a predominant sport in Ecuador, much like many Latin American countries. My dad started playing at six years of age. He got as far as being part of forming a sports club in his neighborhood, that until this day is still in effect. No matter where life took him, soccer followed him. This included his life in the United States. Four days a week he would meet with friends from all socio-economic backgrounds. No matter what country or color they were, they came together to play soccer.  I remember watching him run from work just to fit in an hour or two of soccer with his friends on weekdays. And on weekends, he would wake up early in the morning and walk to the park. My brother and I would ride our bikes to watch him for a little bit. We didn't know it back then, but looking back now, this unity was amazing...maybe that's why I fell in love with it.

To me, soccer is a clear example of how humanity is able to live in harmony. Every four years, the World Cup (both Men & Women) is held, in a designated country in which FIFA assigns. Every four years, countries from around the world come together and play. Your political, social, economic statuses are left at the door and prejudice is kicked to the curb. Fans follow their teams, cheer for them till the end. Peace can be viewed as weakness, but to me it is viewed as strength because its easier to fight for anything rather than be in harmony with everyone.

No matter the color, race, ethnicity, language of any player...the language of soccer is one. It steers the player not to become an individual but to become part of the team and help his/her teammates win. The terms "foreign" and "savage" have a historical use by racists and bigots who simply do not understand something...its an easy way out instead of reasoning in an intelligent manner.

My parents recently relocated. My dad always loving the city partly reluctant to this move was now in suburbia as well. Stranger to this country as is, he felt even more isolated. It wasn't until a few days ago as he was walking, two strangers approached him. They asked him if he knew what time the soccer game was. This was an ice breaker for both sides. And ice breaker that maybe many of us in this country are looking for when it comes to learning and communicating with other communities. He was happy and it was all it took for him to feel less isolated and maybe those two individuals felt the same way. Maybe they went home and told someone of their conversation -- while meaningless, it fundamentally was meaningful.

Am I promoting soccer to become the official sport for the United States? I wish, but no. Everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes of anything, this includes sports. Is soccer the beginning of the end of this country? NO! To me, soccer is simply another door long awaited in this country. It's a start to something positive in this country. Attributes that while many I'm sure hold (while others I admit, do lack) are just waiting for the smallest opportunity to show others. Beyond anti-immigrant policy, racist banters, misogynistic propaganda, individual success -- soccer can be used as an example of solidarity, peace, unity, progress.