A House Divided by World Cup Soccer
“Who do we want to win?” asks Asher when we tell him he can watch as much screen as he wants as long as it’s the World Cup. “Whom,” I answer, “and I don’t know. We’re a house divided.” Asher looks at me with that whatchutalkinboutWillis face.
Image: © John Sibley/Action Images/ZUMAPRESS.com
We’re fair-weather soccer fans at best. The boys don’t even play on a soccer team. Before the suburban parents call the child protection agency, I’ll have you know that we tried our hand (or foot as it were) at Kiddie Soccer back when Asher was about four years old. When I tell you that he did not care for soccer, I mean to say that he hated every minute of it. Asher has always been the Ferdinand the Bull kind of child in that he’d much rather sit under a tree and smell the flowers than play with other children. The only way I could get Asher to spend any time at all on the field was to promise ice cream from the ice cream truck strategically parked at the edge of the park.
I realize that he may have been too young to appreciate the sport. We’ve discussed it since, but he seems just as interested in hook rugs as he is in soccer, as in not at all. And when a family does not follow a sport very closely, we are left to our own devices in selecting our favorite teams.
“Well, Mommy is Italian, and the three of us are English and from the United States. Outside of those countries, we need to look at how they’re ranked and which players have the best reputations. It also helps to know a little bit about a country’s politics…”
“But which ones are closest to us?”
“The countries that are closest are not necessarily the friendliest or the most athletic. Proximity might not be the best way to choose your favorites.”
“I like yellow, so any team wearing yellow is the team I’ll pick.”
“That seems fair.”
And so it has been. We have been watching as many games as we can, and if the teams are not the USA, England or Italy, we pick the Yellow Guys. I might have tried to influence their choices based on the number of out gay men playing for a particular country. There are none. I may have cheered a bit louder for mishpuchah (family). Alas, there are no Jews on any of the teams. The closest one is Sicilian born Mario Balotelli who was born to Ghanaian parents but fostered and then adopted by Italian Jews. Our allegiances may be superficial, but at least we’re watching.
As far as the 2022 World Cup goes, I don’t know that we’ll take such a casual approach if it takes place in Qatar as it stands now. We don’t need another Sochi. But for now, U - S - A!! U - S - A!! And YELLOW GUYS!!
You too can support the men in yellow or whichever color best complements your skintone on ESPN or streamed on Univision.
Originally published on VillageQ.