Every day for the past week or so, Google has had a new Doodle about the World Cup. And that’s fine, because Google serves the world and the world is crazy for what they rightly call football and we call soccer because what we call football should really be renamed, “The boring homoerotic game where men bend over to display their genitals to their betters.” The fact that “world football” is only slightly less boring than “American football” really doesn’t matter. People find many boring things interesting just because everyone else finds them interesting because the one thing that really makes humans unique is just how ununique we are. That doesn’t bother me.
What does bother me is how my fellow Americans get interested in world football whenever “our” team does well. Remember the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup? This was an especially big deal because Americans cared about soccer and a sport played by women not dressed in bikinis. And this year, I see a lot of interest among people who otherwise have no interest in anything that happens outside the world unless it is one of our “shock and awe” wars, who are interested in the World Cup. In particular, they are excited that we beat the team from Ghana.
Did you know that the population of Ghana is less than 8% of the population of the United States? Did you know that Ghana’s economy is one-quarter of one percent the size of the United States’? Did you know that the average person from Ghana makes 3% what the average American makes? So the United States beat Ghana in the last 5 minutes of a 90 minute game by a single goal. And you, my fellow Americans are excited? This victory is like if Goliath had beat David, except that not only did David not have his sling, he had been born without arms and legs, and yet Goliath still managed to lose a considerable about of blood because of numerous bite attacks from David. That’s what the United States’ victory over Ghana is.
I have a special admiration for Jonathan Bernstein. He’s a political scientist and a good writer with great insights into the political process. But that’s not the reason for my special admiration. You see, he is a baseball fan. But he doesn’t start talking about baseball just when his team is doing well or during the playoffs. Every Friday, he writes about baseball. The man loves baseball! I respect that.
What I hate every March is that all these nerdy political writers who I read suddenly start gushing about NCAA basketball. Is it the case that they just love the sport all year long but just can’t contain it in March? I don’t think so. They are just like the fools who are all excited that we beat a tiny African country in a world football match. They’re just following the herd. Meanwhile, Bernstein has been silent on the issue of the World Cup. But last Friday, he did write, The Best, and Worst, Places to See a Game. That’s a baseball fan. Because he actually goes to see them. It isn’t like where Americans see their world football games: during the sports section of the evening news.