Walking home after work. From the train and past the park. Under the arches of low branch trees. On the other side of the fence little kids in soccer class. Five against five. Girls and boys. The coach yells ten seconds! And begins to count down. One goalkeeper blocks the ball, prevents the goal. It falls to her teammate. A little boy who kicks the ball long as the coach counts one. That ball flies into the corner of the opposite goal, past the other team’s goalkeeper, who had already stopped playing. Not expecting a last second shot. The kids go wild. The goal scorer pulls off his jersey and runs around the small field, twirling it above his head. Screaming and yelling.
I wrote this at the height of World Cup Fever and sat on it until now out of respect for all of the soccer fans following it. I didn’t want to shit on anyone’s party. Now that it’s long behind us. I’ll shit freely.
The problem I have with supporting any US national team is that I conflate supporting the team with supporting what my country represents, what actions it takes and how those actions affect the world. I realize this is not fair. I realize that the athletes that represent our nation don’t have anything to do with actions taken by our government, or by the ruling class. But this doesn’t matter to me when it comes down to it.
It sits so wrong with me to be watching an event where the stadium is chanting USA USA and everyone is covered in red white and blue at the same time that domestic terrorists are burning black churches in our country. When domestic terrorists are murdering black people in our country. When police officers are torturing and murdering people – primarily people of color. When we are holding women and children in tiny deportation centers and cells because they were trying to make a better life for themselves here. When the leadership of my city of Chicago is attacking public education and turning it over to private companies wherever possible. When our government continues to support, materially and morally, the apartheid government of Israel in their oppression of Palestinians, and their general bullying of their neighbors. When our government continues to use our massive military as a unilateral global police force and conducts declared and undeclared wars on anyone who stands in our way somehow. When these wars continue to destroy people’s lives. When our government continues to deny support to veterans of these military campaigns once they come home.
The list goes on and many people much more articulate than I have written about these things.
But this is the problem. I cannot in good conscience support the national team without all these things – these current events – popping up in my mind. I am inundated with these things. Every day. What happens in my country and in my name sickens me. And when I see people say things about ‘Murica and Go USA it actually causes a visceral reaction of disgust. It feels jingoistic, tone deaf and divisive. I can’t be all nation happy about any nation that oppresses people and has a long history of genocide, slavery, racism, sexism, intolerance, hatred and injustice. A nation that continues to refuse to own up to its history. Yes, that is probably the majority of the nations on earth. I have conflicted feelings about supporting most national teams for some reason or another.
I am conflicted about this, especially with the women’s national soccer team, because I want to support them as players and people. If they were the club in my city or something, I would support them. It has nothing to do with them as people or players. It has a little to do with US Soccer being US Soccer and my negative feelings towards them as an institution. But nothing to do with the players involved.
I also have intensely negative feelings about FIFA and the world cup and the Olympic Committee and the Olympics. In general they are very destructive agents. You can read all about it elsewhere. I read about the behind the scenes news about what FIFA is doing, what the sponsors involved our doing, what the nations involved are doing. I try to be aware and then I try to treat the actual games as just a spectacle, as a soap opera drama, without getting caught up in who is actually winning. I go with supporting the underdog in general and players I like. But even so, at some point I find myself having extremely negative reactions to watching the US team. I do end up viewing them as complicit representatives of what we represent as a Nation. And I do end up viewing the loud supporters, the ones who dress up, the supporters groups, American Outlaws, et al, as representatives of what we represent as well. And I feel what we represent is ugly. Is violent and destructive. It’s not something I love at all.
I love the people in my community, I love my community. I think there are a lot of good people in my neighborhood, in my city, in my country. I think there are a lot of amazing people working for positive change in this country but they are not those in power. They are not the Nation. The Nation has almost always been on the wrong side of history, only making progress when the people at the bottom demand change.
All of this is just an expression of how I feel. I’m not telling anyone how to support or not support their team. Or what to think or anything like that. I don’t think less of anyone as a person for supporting their national team at all. I make no judgments. This is a personal feeling, for me. This is just something that has been festering for a while that I needed to get off my chest.
man. this was a busy week. earlier we had the announcement of the free agents and today was the supplemental draft! the team is getting fuller. completeness to be complete soon. and then only a little while until the season starts. yes!
here are the five new red stars in order of pick (all of whom have played for the red stars at some point in the recent past):
more news from the stoked department – the chicago red stars were finally allowed to tell who their first four free agents are! they do get an additional one since amy lepeilbet is out for the upcoming season – rats!
CHICAGO (Feb. 5, 2013) – The Chicago Red Stars have added three more free agents to their list of five for the upcoming NWSL season, including Lori Chalupny, Taryn Hemmings, and Ella Masar. This follows Friday’s announcement of midfielder Leslie Osborne. Per league and team policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed. The Red Stars will be announcing their 5th free agent in the near future.
the national women’s soccer league draft happened earlier today, so now there are four more players on the red stars. zakiya bywaters! rachel quon! taylor vancil! jennifer hoy! closer and closer to a full team… excitement!
With the #1 pick in the inaugural NWSL draft, the Chicago Red Stars selected attacking forward/midfielder Zakiya Bywaters from UCLA. With the #9 pick they selected defender Rachel Quon, from Stanford. #17 pick was Taylor Vancil, a goalkeeper from Florida State. With their final pick #25, the Red Stars selected forward/midfielder Jennifer Hoy from Princeton
1. the united states beat spain in the confederations cup. that’s crazy! spain was/is this invincible juggernaut. i have mixed feelings about this, cuz the us dominates in so many other ways, soccer was one of the few things where most other countries could walk all over the states. but, now united states soccer is ascending. which is good, cuz then soccer might start to get taken seriously here. which would be nice. this is not to say that the us is the best in the world at this point. far from it. they will prolly face brazil in the final and will prolly get creamed. but as an underdog story, and i love to root for the underdog, i’m into this.
UPDATE of course I posted this late. the us did lose to brazil. just so you know.
also, if anyone knows any good soccer blogs, let me know.
2. just listened to the new sonic youth album, the eternal. really not feeling it. i know it’s easy to slag on them at this point, and i’m not slagging, cuz it’s still a decent record, but I think my mega love affair with them is kinda over. which is cool. it lasted a long time. it is interesting that the most out stuff they do now is when they do their side projects. and now when they get together as sonic youth, it’s like this mellow indy rock vibe. occasionally there are the slight noise departures, but on the whole, it’s just mellow. which is fine, they’re allowed to be mellow after 30 years. it’s pleasant enough to listen to. but so not crucial. i wanted to love it, feel what i used to feel when i listened to them, as recently as sonic nurse, but i had the same feeling as when i listened to rather ripped (how was that three years ago already?).
oh, but the thing i will slag on is the $30 price tag for the vinyl of the new record. what the fuck? either what the fuck matador? or what the fuck sonic youth? or both. no extra tracks or anything, just fancy packaging and nice vinyl. but 30 dollars. no thanks. i bought the cd. 12 bucks. little packaging. minimal. barebones. production credits, thank yous. that’s it. and then i’m told there were 2 other pre order packages one for 40 and one for 50 dollars. with either one you get more shit (a live vinyl) and i’m guessing some other swag. at first i thought it was a decent idea, getting people interested in the upcoming release, by offering extras to people who preorder it, but I totally didn’t realize it cost more. that’s just collectorism and exploiting a nerdy fanbase. and I’m so not into collectorism. way to encourage that lame pasttime matador/sonic youth.
ps no offense to collectors, i know it’s a condition that you can’t help and that you are still good people.
pps if i’ve gotten my info wrong about how matador released this record, also let me know.