I have a lot of feelings after what went down these past couple weeks, and past couple years, and past couple decades. I am unabashedly and undeniably in fucking love with U.S. soccer. I cherish it.... the team and the players and the games and tournaments and fans. It all just does it for me. I love singing the songs and chanting the chants and gearing up for gameday. It's part of my identity and, with my miniscule contribution to it, I am a very small part of its.
With no small amount of regret, I'm not in as deep as many others are. I haven't traveled to see the team, though I should. I didn't go to the World Cup, though I might have under a different set of financial and familial circumstances. I'm not a sterling example of the ideal U.S. soccer fan, but just a guy who played some as a kid, got into the game progressively through the 90s, latched onto an English club team in 2002 and has progressively grown into a massive fondness for the sport and for the men and women who play the sport wearing the Stars and Stripes. I screamed and cheered in '99 when Chastain won it in PKs. I laughed with uncontrollable emotion in 2002 when McBride put the US up 3-0 to Portugal. I wept with joy when Liverpool's mighty Reds shook their fists at fate and won the Champions League in 2005. I sat, stunned and sullen, on the floor of Nag's Head in Hoboken last Sunday when Christiano ruined our night, only to smile as he repaid the debt days later when with his winner against Ghana.
Sports. They are individual, yet communal. They happen to us and with us and with those we are lucky (or unlucky) enough to be surrounded by as we watch.
With predictable regularity, the World Cup cycle gives me immense joy and excitement, coupled with the equally regular insistence of various onlookers that soccer, and particularly soccer for Americans, is something to be defined in certain, concrete terms. Is it arriving? Has it arrived already? Are the fans getting better or worse or are they destined to be a group subject to hearty and deserved derision?
So we get, even from people who feign "not to care," various bullet-pointed lists of the things that make the sport wrong for America, only to be countered by lists proclaiming the various reasons that it is superior to every other option available on the country's sports landscape. We get anger and defensiveness and writers scrambling for page views (not unlike myself, perhaps) and fans of all sports standing up to tell each other why their chosen sports pastime sucks and, while they're at it, to clarify to those other fans that it's entirely possible they suck.
It's a bigger conversation this year because so many people have chosen to care about the sport in America - not just fans but, perhaps even more so, detractors. Lost in the conversation, however, is an appropriate recognition that, despite the varied attempts to define the sport and its fans in America, what we've seen over the past weeks and years and decades is overwhelmingly un-definable. The AO movement has started something great, one could say, but that "something" wasn't created out of nothing; it existed before anyone was an Outlaw. Sure, America is experiencing a rising tide of new fans, but not all are new fans of the sport, and not all will continue. Some have been watching games for years and find themselves more able and more eager to let the excitement wash over them because, well, we have a critical mass. Some have finally been convinced of the sport's beauty and likability, and some just like to yell USA!
Some fans are dicks to new fans and some of those dicks might only be dicks on the days that they happen to be in a sour mood or didn't eat lunch or whatever and now whoever is sitting next to them at the bar thinks all soccer fans are the pits. Some fans are entirely lovely and sometimes that's because they hate the idea of soccer hipsters and want to counter it, and sometimes it's because they're just fucking great people.
Some fans grew into their love of the American national team through their love of the more-developed game in Europe, such that their idea of being a fan is that of being a supporter and wearing scarves and using the same terms that they hear announcers use when calling a Tottenham game.
Maybe it's easy to forget that sports culture is far from homogeneous since America's professional sports and the way in which most people digest those sports has become so packaged. After all, it's way easier to have an accessible product for consumption when that product is predictable and easily defined and consumer friendly. So, when Keith Olbermann and others state that they want soccer to be more American, they fail to realize that there's no such thing. Football isn't American because it has any intrinsic quality that makes it so; football is American because it's been around long enough and been popular enough that the idea of "American" has grown to include football as its own. Football and baseball and basketball and hockey are American because they've all been on American TV every week, sometimes every night, with such regularity that to call them un-American is altogether foolish. Our culture has expanded to accept the sports beloved of our people, as it should, but the idea of making soccer a quintessentially American sport is far too vague a concept to be a guidepost.
People are coming to soccer and to their support of the U.S. national teams in very different ways, with a variety of different perspectives on the sport and what it means to be a fan, such that it surely seems to many to be an altogether foreign enterprise. Supporters of soccer in America and of the national teams bring their cultural baggage and assets and songs and passions, and their different ideas on what the sport should be in this country. We didn't invent the sport and we surely didn't get in on the ground floor, so we're putting the product and our experience together with the pieces of soccer culture that we have available and that we enjoy. And onlookers are left trying to make sense of what soccer will be for sports fans in this country. Is this genuine? Or are we all just trying to latch onto other countries' sporting exports?
How about we, maybe, don't try to define this, though? How about we enjoy the fact that the sport and its American cultural niche are hard to pin down in any way other than by simply stating that it's all tremendous fun?
We've got plenty to be proud of without having to worry about whether this sport, this passion of ours, will succeed in our country; whether it will ever be accepted as an unquestioned part of national life without a thousand writers and hacks telling us why it - and by extension, we - are incompatible with the pre-existing sporting cultural identity of the Unites States. We don't need to worry about finding a discernible American identity for our national team and its supporters. In fact, with the cacophony of cultural influences on our sport and our support, it all may just be American enough.
Obviously this monstrosity - and I mean that in a good way, I promise, this is great! - couldn't get edited and uploaded in time, so obviously that meant it going live after the match yesterday, but them's are the breaks with amateur, poorly crafted, digitally recorded, oral sports takes.
Barrister and Phil (@Mechaphil) linked up again to re-hash the joy of winning at Old Trafford and look forward to Liverpool's trip to Cardiff. In the middle of it, we talk about Julian Green committing to the U.S. Men's National Team, FIFA corruption, and the glory of American deliberate indifference.
Bonus clip at the end of this massively long episode as we welcome the hottest of takes from Rochester's biggest (only?) Cardiff City supporter, recorded before the game, at halftime, and immediately after Cardiff's 6-3 loss to the Mighty Redmen. /farts
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As always, all of the DGWU podcasts are available at deargodwhyussports.libsyn.com. Cheers.
Hey y'all, the word of the day is "TWELVE"
12 straight wins.
Yeah this should have gone up yesterday, but fuck you I was working/trolling fools in the Buffalo News comments for sport. get on my level.
Yesterday was a good day. Fans on both sides will temper the boisterous joy with which some are looking at the USMNT's win in Sarajevo yesterday - it was their B team when the US put up those goals, the first half was all that mattered, it's a friendly so who cares - and I totally accept that.
BUT ALL THAT DOESN'T MATTER. This is goddamn awesome.
Things to consider:
Ok, that's it. If you're not watching this US team these days, I don't know what to say. Get yourself right and ready for Brazil.
I feel like writing, so will invent topics by musing on this hilarious world of ours and making jokes to keep me sane. And since I'm on a work/pleasure trip to Buffalo tomorrow and intend to have too much fun with the pleasure portion of my visit - i.e. anime porn, if you're interested - I won't be available much, and today it must be.
Bills training camp started, so a huzzah and merry almost football to you and yours. Professional catch and run ball is pretty great, except when it actually starts and we find ourselves enveloped again in an existential crisis of suck.
BUT THIS COULD BE THE YEAR. So they tell me; "they" being pretty much anyone willing to forget the past and start fresh, though for them it happens every year and EJ Manuel, by implication, sits in the same storied and shit-upon position as Trent and Fitz and JP and Robbie J and Bledsoe and even Levi Brown for a quick minute which tells you all you need to know about what it takes to be a Buffalo quarterback and ride the wave of foolish optimism that is being a fan of a Bills team with the shittiest wagons making the shittiest circle.
Related: when the Bills circle their wagons, rumor has it, a parallel dimension of this world is invaded by Cybermen and it's all really terrible until Rose Tyler appears and remains smoking hot as she saves the motherfucking day.
Whatever, have at the hope if you want to. It's sports. Have fun. EJ, jokes aside, is certainly less saddled with the cursed history of Buffalo football than the rest of us, so maybe he'll be fine. He's looked seriously good in these first few days of camp, if Buffalo sports writers are to be believed (they're not), but the stark contrast of his game when set against Kevin Kolb may be distorting everyone's perspective.
Calm down, and as mentioned, supra, Go Bills.
We gathered to chat about sports and stuff. Bills. Jokes. Dance music. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. America.
It's been too long.
Music by way of White Panda, Dr. Ooo and Ellie Goulding. That's right.
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Wow. Weekdays suck. I started my week with a crapload of work all jammed together like the Buffalo News Sports staff trying to ride an elevator together, then followed it with a bunch of exhaustion, and now the week is almost done and I figured I'd scrap together a few thoughts to impart to you before the weekend. Why? Because fuck you that's why.
Join me. And imagine me saying that in as non-creepy was as possible.
This is as belated as we've been in a while. Maybe the dad among us shouldn't promise to edit anymore, particularly on a noght of such heavy drinking. With esteemed Deeg colleague Monsieur Boner Shorts in town, things got weird.
I won't bother recapping it, except to say this was recorded the night of Tuesday, March 26th, in the midst of Sabres, Knicks, USMNT, Clippers/Mavs and shots of whiskey. Also, the Scizz was there, so if you love the soft tones of his Franklinville accent, make sure to join in the fun with a download.
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The DGWUS CrapTastCast - Episode 37: Rollbacks. America. Reality., feat. guest Colin Bruckel from The Hosers.
What a busy week it has been at DGWU Sports! Between news of the NHL Lockout and our battles with the various personalities at WGR for refusing, as is their custom, to engage with viewpoints other than (a) their own, or (b) those of the mouthbreathers who call into WGR and make it their mission to express their vehement disdain for everything in the world, there was a LOT to discuss when we gathered Wednesday night. More shots were fired and kindling put onto the world of Buffalo sports media so that we can continue to watch it burn. Heh. Sports.
Oh, and there are those Buffalo Bills, too, which is actually where we started in segment one as we recapped the shit show that was Sunday with the Deeg. Bills @ Cardinals was by no means an enjoyable time, but recapping the fun times we had and the trainwreck of a game ended up being pretty fun/depressing/rage-inducing.
In segment two we welcomed Colin Bruckel, one of the founders of TheHosers.com, a site we have linked to for a while and which provides stellar insight about the legal issues surrounding professional hockey and, in particular, the CBA. Colin's assessment of the current CBA negotiations was as interesting and well-presented as any I've heard, and it is an understatement to say that we were lucky to have him on. I would note, however, that since our discussion took place before the NHLPA presented its own offers to the league (and before Bettman rejected them immediately), you'll want to keep an eye on his site for more hot legal takes. Or you could continue being ignorant and just keep listening to the superficialities of sports talk radio.
Segment three brings it back to our wheelhouse of inappropriateness and ill-conceived sports takes as we talk the USMNT's win on Tuesday, the NBA's new policy restricting pre-game celebrations, Apologist's suicidal ideations following the Orioles' elimination from the playoffs, and our predictions for the Bills/Titans game this weekend. I must add that we had intended to talk more about (read: make fun of) Shawne Merriman's return to Buffalo, but had to toss that to the back burner so we'd have time to talk about the more pressing issues of gloating about our intellectual superiority over talk radio hosts. It's a burden, really. In any event, I'm hopeful that Merriman's second tenure in the 716 will give us plenty of opportunities to point and laugh.
Musical interludes this week are provided by Broken Bells, Gov't Mule & REO Speedwagon, as well as - of course - The Jambrones.
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7,200 feet above sea level. Six tiers of unmitigated, raucous hell. An All - Seater in name only, with barely raised benches in the style of old Football Fortresses/Deathtraps The Ibrox, Old Wembley, and Parc Des Princes. It is the only stadium to hold two World Cup Finals, professional home of Club America, and spiritual/actual home of our most hated rival, El Tri. Behold, Estadio Azteca.
0-23-1. That's the Yanks record in Mexico since we started to think seriously about having a footy squad Stateside in 1984. We haven't elected to do a friendly match there in almost 30 years. We've NEVER beaten them in the Azteca. IF YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED IT OUT YET WE ARE SCAREDY PANTS NANCY BOYS WHEN IT COMES TO PLAYING MEXICO IN THEIR BACKYARD. Jurgen Klinsmann, our fearless leader and participant in some of Europe's greatest Professional and National rivalries, has decided it's time to make our boys sack up and face the music at the Azteca, tournaments be damned (If the previous USMNT administration had their druthers, they would wait until the very last dying minute with a gun to their heads to play at The Azteca and ONLY if it was for a FIFA sanctioned tournament).
Three out of every four years, this is the point in the summer where sports cease to matter for me on their usual day-to-day basis. The Mets are inevitably out of the playoff picture (check), the Sabres have underwhelmed in an offseason in which they needed to pick up the pieces from a disastrous finish to last season (check), the Bills look promising but for the fact that they're the Buffalo Fucking Bills (check), and the various European footy leagues are still a couple weeks away (check). Summer provides its own distractions of day drinking and beach visits and eye candy throughout the five boroughs (well... four, since Staten Island is, well, Staten Island). And of course there's MLS action which continues to impress, particularly with the Red Bulls (who, incidentally, I caught live Tuesday night when they played Tottenham... I'd recap that match but, let's be real, I was drinking, coming off a separate four day bender and there's not much to say than that the Spurs looked pretty good when they tried and that they showed why the MLS still has a few years/decades to catch up with the quality of top-notch European clubs).
But, one of every four years, we get the Olympics to keep us busy in late July/early August so that we don't have to feel quite so down about the Mets or the Sabres or the Bills (or whatever other shit burger squads you happen to follow) each looking like minor league organizations trying to keep pace with the big boys. I've always been a huge fan of the Summer Olympics since it plays the role of gap-filler and since it typically happens while I have a little bit more free time than usual to watch endless hours of sports I know nothing about and drink enough tallboys to convince myself that I'm actually an expert. Back in '08, I absorbed the Beijing games on the heels of taking the NY bar exam, which worked out perfectly even if my family did start to question my motive in watching back-to-back matches of women's beach volleyball. (Spoiler: it was the ass shots, of course). This year, I have a little bit less free time, being employed and all, though I did get to check out quite a lot of it during a three day bachelor party weekend, and have kept up with the bigger goings-on since getting back to NYC Monday night.