As I type this article up, I’m barely paying attention to the Women’s World Cup Final that is captivating the Americans in my apartment building’s social room.
Call it football or soccer, whatever you like, but don’t call me to cheer for your team. I don’t usually follow the sport, but I do enjoy the festivities and seeing the friendly international competition between teams, whether it’s football, volleyball, or basketball; and I love how it brings the world together for a common interest. Some people can cheer for one team or another regardless of whether they are Americans or Japanese, and I have no problem with that.
My upbringing however, makes it very hard to feel a sense of patriotic pride for the American team. I’m not particularly interested if they win, because it doesn’t feel like my country or my team, in spite of my American citizenship. Since living and growing up abroad, I found myself hesitant to say “we” when referring to Americans.
Don’t get me wrong– I can see why winning provides a good outcome for both countries: if the U.S. were to win, it could potentially influence the people who are mostly apathetic toward football/soccer to become more interested in the sport, resulting in stronger teams in the future and more public interest during the World Cup, which has been almost non-existent as I observed over the past decade. If Japan were to win, then it would provide a happy ending for a difficult year with its economical woes, Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, and the tsunami.
Some might accuse me of having no appreciation for the sport, which is false. I just don’t feel any pride if the U.S. were to win, nor would I feel disappointed. Maybe because I feel that any country could be mine because of my mobility, that I don’t feel any place is better, whatever it is, I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Honestly though, I want to feel pride and connected. A sense of belonging for one moment when I can with an entire nation of Americans feel like I’m one of them. But then when you look at all the fans in Germany, South Africa, Brazil, and all throughout the world who also have some people cheering on the Americans, I am also part of a different community, which is that of all the sport fans. In that respect, I still don’t feel like I’m connecting to the Americans cheering for their team, since it’s not just Americans rooting for the team. Maybe I just feel more connected to the world because anyone can cheer for any team, and it’s that unity I enjoy, not a bias for one team over another.
Ultimately, I guess I feel silly even at this small level of comparison between countries, nationalism, and favoritism. The rhetoric of “this country’s team is better than that country’s team” is one step away from “this country is better than that country” which I don’t agree with at all, which is why I’m not cheering on any team. “This game is fun and let’s all get together and play or watch” is what I agree with, so in that sense, I’m not rooting for any team, I’m rooting for global unity.