My patriotism is now boundless. Among the many reasons for geographical pride – the wisdom of our leaders, my shiny red MAGA hat shrewdly manufactured in China – is the United States soccer team remains undefeated in World Cup play.
This is as it should be. How sad we were each Winter Olympics, as our curling team fell to squads from lesser countries such as Norway and Canada. After many such humiliations, our system of curling youth leagues here struck gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. We are the curling masters of the planet! And now, in the World Cup, the thankless work of millions of soccer moms across the United States is paying off: Our magnificent team remains unscored upon!
I’m excited to see our sports organizations, and all athletic supporters, embrace the socialism needed to compete on a world scale in sports we are otherwise ambivalent about. Socialism has worked for our fire and police departments for years. Our public school system is socialism. The magnificent sports edifices we build, palaces where American oligarchs send their teams for our entertainment, and to distract us, are also socialism at work. And the oligarchs selflessly take on the complex task of negotiating the accompanying television and merchandising contracts, so that we can live our simple lives in stress-free oblivion.
But our team’s World Cup presence far exceeds these primitive efforts. It isn’t costing Americans anything!
Growing up in Cleveland, I have certainly experienced the thrill of championship seasons. True, I was just a little kid then, but I still have the fading picture of my brother and I posing with my dad with the team photo published in The Cleveland Press after the Browns won the 1964 NFL championship. And then… well… a bit of a drought. I’d long since moved away when the Cavaliers won the NBA championship three years ago. I was visiting my mother then, and before the final game, and at her request, I spread my dad’s ashes around the front lawn he once patrolled with his riding lawnmower. And then Mom and I watched the Cavs game on TV. Victory. I was happy for my friends and relatives still living in Cleveland.
The Browns’ best player on its ’64 title team was Jim Brown. The Cavs’ best player was LeBron James. Larger-than-life heroes. I think of them, from time to time. Maybe when I’m watching a movie. Brown in The Dirty Dozen. Or James in Trainwreck.
Yet our World Cup heroes go one step further, they are completely selfless. I can’t name one player on the team! None will ever have a movie career!
Admittedly, that championship lift to the community doesn’t last long. Only until the reality of the next season sets in and age, torn hamstrings and the new young and hungry team pushes aside your heroes. But at least my old hometown had two transcendent moments during my lifetime. I’m sure the people of Flint, Mich., with its poisoned water system, would welcome a sports championship to celebrate. Think of what it would do for the spirits of the people of Puerto Rico, still living beneath canvas roofs on their hurricane-flattened island.
What would you rather have in your community? Eighty thousand people in a stadium for eight Sunday afternoons, cheering the Buffalo Bills to a 6-10 record? Or would you prefer a lead-free water system, successful federal responses to natural disasters, public transportation and museums and theaters for the arts?
Would you rather have a wall on our southern border, or a national health-care system?
Nationalism in any form – sports, politics – is a powerful force. It’s the old college spirit. My dad avidly followed Ohio State football, even though Columbus is a 2½-hour drive from Cleveland, and he’d never been to a Buckeyes game. In fact, he’d only been to Columbus once or twice in his lifetime. But sports transcends distance and breeds compassion for your fellow human being: The avid followers of major-college sports programs are willing to overlook grade-cheating scandals, drug arrests, players beefed up on steroids beyond all recognizable human form and the arrest of star players on felony charges. My dad saw Ohio State football as an affirmation of the superiority of life in Ohio. Even though half of the athletes on the team were from Florida and Texas.
Your star quarterback is charged with rape? Your president is the subject of serious federal criminal investigations into possibly conspiring with a foreign country to help him win an election, and then obstructing that investigation by firing the investigator?
In both worlds, it’s all fake news. Stay oblivious. Be happy.
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