Friday, June 11, 2010

No Promises, No Demands

The 2010 World Cup is underway with host South Africa and Mexico squaring off on the pitch in the opening match (a nil-nil nailbiter at this point). I think it's high time for my fellow Americans to wake up and appreciate the beauty of the event. Not the alleged beauty of the sport itself mind you. No, the beauty of the United States of America being in a no lose position when it comes to the World Cup.

If we lose a match or even all of them, who really cares? 99.99% of Americans aren't going to lose any sleep if the US squad goes belly up and has an early exit. But if we happen to win--especially if we happen to beat a country that lives and dies on the outcome of that particular match--it's all gravy.

This happened back in 2002, when the USA stunned Mexico. Most Americans had no idea that their team had won and even most of those who did know were relatively indifferent. "We beat Mexico in soccer? Cool. What time is the Twins game tonight?" Meanwhile, the defeat was a crushing blow to pretty much all of Mexico. A black pall that was visible from the US southwest border states hung over the country for days. A game that meant nothing to most Americans, meant everything to Mexicans. You gotta love that.

The same scenario could be in play tomorrow when the USA meets England. An English victory is expected and if it happens, most Americans won't bat an eye. But if the US somehow beats England, it will be a catastrophic blow to English pride (what's left of it anyway) and opportunity for Americans to rub salt into the open English wound for years. Talk about a win-win. So tune in tomorrow and cheer for the US team. What have we got to lose?