Monday, June 26, 2006

a vindication of the rights of american THREE LIONS fans

(in response to a challenge by Zach at 11 Devils, a man annoyed and perplexed by widespread American devotion to Sven's motley posse)

I understand your impatience. To the casual observer, the U.S. fan's fixation on the English team must smack of pretension, cowardice, or, at best, inane anglophilia. It's more than that, or, rather, OTHER than that, and I'll try to explain it.

Consider Shakespearean acting: the English do it better than we do. Not that we don't have many very fine Shakespearean actors--I could name fifty, seriously, without pausing for breath--but those Brits seem to have an innate comfort-level with the rhythms and sounds which we Yanks have to work to achieve. Is it because they've been doing it longer? because it was born on their soil? because it's more fully appreciated there, thus better funded? I don't know. Watch any Branagh film, you'll see it's true.

(OK, that's a bad example, since Branagh enjoys casting mediocre American actors, from kindness or Schadenfreude. But watch a great American performance--in New York, Ashland, Seattle, wherever--then watch the same play in London. They still have bad actors, sure, but theirs are better than our bad actors. Then choose our greatest and send him to London; he's going to be standing in a room full of his peers.)

Same with soccer. Any team is engaging when they're playing well, but who's more fascinating when they're playing badly? England, no question. The reason so many people spend so much time tooth-gnashing and hair-rending over the Lions is that even at their very worst, when they're torturing us with fumbled passes and a Lampardianly perpetual continuum of wide shots, even then there's a hovering possibility that they might without warning break into a moment of breath-taking splendor. It's that they so often don't,--and because they so often look like they're WILLFULLY CHOOSING TO DENY US,--that our teeth and hair are in such awful fettle.

Has any U.S. national team been able to do that, ever? No. Unquestionably, no. Nobody's fault. Soccer's young here. It'll grow up. Meanwhile, it's two wholly different worlds. To the Brits, football is an art-form and a way of life. To us, it's just a sport. So I ask you. How can you honestly prefer the U.S. team to England's?


Zach Dundas said...

Hey, I stand second to none in my Anglophilia! I just find myself oddly bothered by this English team...perhaps because they're in the quarterfinals without playing one good game. If they somehow manage to heist the Jules Rimet trophy, I'm sure I'll get all teary-eyed just like the rest.

Idler said...

Just a quibble here: The Scots and the Welsh (and arguably the Northern Irish) are also "Brits." All have football associations hence compete in the World Cup as separate nationalities.

Lisa said...

Indeed. No slight intended. It's just that the English are the only Brits around just now. Well, I spoke too soon. The room empties of Brits entirely, and my heart is broken.