Saturday, June 19, 2010

usa rocks!

My students generally have a soft spot for the USA soccer team, underdog that it is, drawing (tying) traditional power England and then tying Slovenia also; this is actually a good showing for us and keeps us in the race to enter the second round of the World Cup, which is still a week or so away. Time has been flying by, and I occasionally get a glimpse at a piece of a game, as I did the USA-Slovenia match; maybe about five minutes, before I taught, with the USA at that point losing 2-1. So I haven't seen enough of the entire tournament to make qualified commentary, except to say, with family crises drawing out in infinite agony, and schoolwork up to my ears, the need for escapism through soccer is greater than ever, and I find myself pouncing on each game in spirit, even though, at seven or nine in the morning, i can't watch them, ever. in spirit, part of me is in south africa; it's an international event, and the world shares in fascination, every tiny detail.

Some of the expected great powers are still doing well: Argentina, Brazil, and Netherlands, to name a few; nobody expected Spain, France or Germany to lose this early, but none of them are really out of it yet, as I guess you are if you have lost two (Cameroon, Nigeria, and a few others). My friend says you generally need a win and a draw to advance, but for teams with only draws (like the USA), our hope lies in the chance that our last match will be a win - and this may be more likely against Algeria, than for our rivals, England, who must now beat a very tough Slovenia. Slovenia can play for the draw, as they already have a win; I'm not sure how this changes things.

One day I peek around the corner from the coffee shop, where the wide-screen shows the world cup right at the bowling part of the student center; there are about eight or nine Brazilians, all dressed in yellow, with a vuvuzela, and also a guitar and some other kind of instrument; they are singing in Portuguese, and cheering on their team, which includes a guy named Kaka; one side of me had never actually believed that this guy was real, though some student had at one point explained that he was the best soccer player at the moment; even as he spoke he was met with harsh argument. I had never seen such a display of national passion for the sport before this; it was impressive; but even in that match, I could afford no more than about ten or fifteen minutes of my time to actually watch; I'm just too busy.

So the day of the USA-Slovenia match, there was nobody there, except a single student-center worker, who had somehow become drawn in to the drama, and was checking in regularly between his various chores around the building. As I walked back up to the class I was to teach, I tried to forget the match (which was going against us anyway) and put my mind into the class which I taught as usual, in cold, unemotional detachment; but, at the end, a student, knowing where I stood and eager to inform me of what they learned immediately, perhaps through a blackberry, said, "Mr. Leverett! You equalized!" I was dumbfounded; he repeated, and I still didn't get it. Finally after some explanation I figured out that it was USA that had dramatically caught up; and, in fact there was more to the drama that I didn't even pick up until later; inevitably, some things are lost in translation, or unable to be communicated effectively, in the hallway, between classes. There are, in fact, other Americans around, who are paying attention (my fellow male teachers, actually, are my best examples)- but, I was sorry that there was no little cheering section there at the student center, as there would be, say, in any little barber shop or restaurant in all of Mexico, during the France match. All's the pity. Go USA!



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