Monday, August 17, 2009

Good Articles About Things We Don't Care About

Yeah, we know that "We don't care about soccer" is the kind of thing you'd expect someone to say after their national team just got spanked (twice) by Mexico, be really... we just don't give a shit about soccer, though if we had pre-teenage daughters and a minivan we'd probably feel differently.

Still, we thought Bill Simmons's report on ESPN.com was thoroughly enjoyable. Here he describes the scene at Azteca Stadium:

Opponents never feel safe. Inside the bowels of the stadium, the players walk down a concrete tunnel that feels like it was built in 1362. Emerge from the tunnel, and Mexican fans are suddenly right there, wearing green jerseys, yelling obscenities and pounding the fence in front of them. The venom starts immediately -- booing and hissing, horn blowing, various "Meh-hee-CO! Meh-hee CO!" chants -- and never really stops. The Mexican fans had no problem drowning out "The Star-Spangled Banner" with jeers. They tossed drinks and debris at the U.S. bench for most of the second half ... which didn't matter because Azteca's opposing bench has an impenetrable plexiglass roof, but still. During a corner kick in extra time, they showered Landon Donovan with such a staggering amount of debris that he briefly staggered back toward the field in disbelief, shrugging his hands as if to say, "How could anyone act like this?"

You can't even call it just a hostile environment; it's more primal than anything. I have only attended two other games in which the crowd's collective loathing was palpable -- Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals (Boston fans heaping hatred on Ralph Sampson, who had punched two Celtics in the previous game) and Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern finals (the same treatment for Bill Laimbeer, who had decked Larry Bird the previous game) -- and neither approached USA-Mexico. Michael Vick could crash a PETA rally and get a friendlier reception than the Americans did at Azteca.

That seems about right to us, as does the description of the aftermath of Mexico's winning goal.

That's not what I will remember. I will remember the reaction afterward: Complete and utter delirium. Everyone just threw whatever drink they had as far as they could. It was like watching a new Pixar movie called "A Snowstorm of Drinks" crossed with a full-fledged prison riot. Then and only then did we realize exactly how much that game meant to the Mexicans. As Hopper said right after the final whistle (Mexico 2, USA 1), "I guess the upside is that we're going to live."

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun. Sorry we didn't come down to see it!

M

Anonymous said...

That's ok Burro...99.999% of the rest of the world doesn't care about any of the sports the U.S. seems to cherish. (Maybe if I was 200 lbs. overweight and owned a Hummer I might care about golf.)

Also, I always find it amusing how astonished journalists from the U.S. are whenever they witness the spectacle surrounding futbol matches. The kind of madness that was experienced at the Azteca is similarly duplicated around the world by rival teams vying for the local championship. One of the biggest takes place in Argentina twice a year between Boca Juniors and River Plate. The same is true for the Mexican teams Chivas and America. In Brasil there's Fluminense and Flamengo. There are many, many more.

chip said...

Simmons is must read

Burro Hall said...

Any 200-pound overweight guy driving a Hummer in Queretaro (of which we have no shortage) is almost certainly a Mexican soccer fan. Though it's not impossible that they could also like golf.

Richard said...

I bet Simmons doesn't understand Spanish. Mexican fans are rowdy, but their insults are more contests of wit than anything violent. Heck, when a guy launched a bottle rocket onto the field at Azteca a few years ago (and hit a coach in the eye), you would have thought there had been an assassination, given the worried commentary by sportscasters throughout the nation, and the worried calls for legal sanctions against violence in stadiums from the legislature.

What a wimp! If he was talking about BRITISH soccer (where the fans go in for organized terrorist attacks on the opposing team's fans), he might have had a point.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be a surprise to me if there are more than a few Mexicans paying attention to golf these days. Currently, one of the best female golfers in the world is Lorena Ochoa from Gaudalajara.

Anonymous said...

With Respect to Richard's comment...How about the time a fan from FC Barcelona tossed an entire pig's head onto the field when Luis Figo was taking a corner kick(Figo had played for Barcelona but went over to Barcelona's most hated rival team, Real Madrid). Needless to say, many fans felt enormously betrayed.

But that's the thing with futbol. Fans feel a very passionate bond with their team. While there certainly is a business aspect to it, fans of a major club would never stand for a team suddenly deciding to relocate to another city because its current owner believes the revenue stream might be better there. I don't see how fans of major sports teams in the States put up with this. A riot would ensue if this was tried in countries where futbol is the unoffical religion.

Burro Hall said...

I'm from Brooklyn, where grown men still weep openly about the Dodgers, who left town 52 years ago.

Anonymous said...

yeah, like in Colombia where a few years ago the drug lord who paid for the team to compete in world cup then had the star player killed when they didn't win...
that's a serious sports habit

Richard said...

Simmons should consider himself lucky he didn't cover the FIFA playoff games between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. Now there were out-of-control soccer fans.