This is America, a culture that gets sports and competition, but is still somewhat figuring out this whole mainstream soccer/futbol deal. It’s also a land filled with lofty expectations, crazy dreams and a fine line between those harboring unrelenting pessimism and those high on unrealistic optimism.
Americans love underdogs, comebacks and the belief that anything is possible. This is what Klinsmann either doesn’t get or refuses to accept.
Surely you’ve heard the story by now. It goes something like Klinsmann saying in December that the US “couldn’t win” the World Cup, only to be followed-up now, in June, that it’s “unrealistic.”
Maybe it is. But, come on, coach, you don’t tell everyone.
That’s the other beauty about America–we sugarcoat everything; and what we don’t sugarcoat, we lie about in order to keep things copacetic. Our professional sports coaches could double as senators in terms of glossing over the facts and bending the truth.
Think about the recent products that come from Americans: Facebook–lies about popularity. LinkedIn–embellishments that complement over-boasted resumes. Twitter–the great equalizer that takes away the ability for the educated souls to know the difference between their well-read counterparts and “them who ain’t know how to spell rite.”
If Mark Zuckerberg walked into Facebook’s headquarters seven years ago and said “there’s no way we can beat MySpace,” he’d have robbed our culture and the world of the greatest electronic-stalking mechanism known to humankind. If Joe Namath said the NFL is superior and “we can’t hang,” football might not be where it is today. And, if Mikey wouldn’t have reiterated to Data, Chunk and Mouth that “Goonies never die,” they might have, well, died–at least in the movie.
These are things that Klinsmann, a former German player and coach, just can’t understand.
From Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” to Jimmy Valvano’s famous “Never Give Up” speech, this isn’t a culture that takes kindly to big ideas aimed at suggesting that great and uncommon things can’t and won’t happen.
Speaking of “uncommon,” anyone remember The Miracle on Ice? USA Hockey head coach, Herb Brooks, told his young, underdog team, that they have to be “uncommon.” And they were, upsetting Russia and eventually taking Gold in the 1980 Olympics. Brooks, a guy who probably had seen Rocky movies and most likely listened to Queen’s “We are the Champions,” probably would have never said–at least out loud– “we can’t win.”
Some articles and commentaries have said that Klinsmann might be trying to fire up the troops. Others pointed to the fact that he’s being straight and honest and preparing for the future. And while that’s probably somewhat accurate, it still doesn’t sit well with America. Even the non-soccer-but-all-sports-buffs like yours truly.
America is like the old-school defiant kid at the dinner table who’ll refuse to eat his peas even if he has to sit at the table until it’s time to go to school the following morning. Certainly, this type of hardheadedness won”t accept the fat lady doing her “mi-mi-mi-mis” before it’s her appropriate time to do so. And now, several days before even taking the field in the 2014 World Cup, isn’t the time.
This is America, a culture where Leonard landed Penny, Rudy made the team, and Keith Richards is still somehow breathing. And while the big-girl gets warmed up to inevitably belt out her chorus for the US Soccer team, Klinsmann should hold off on asking for that ticket–at least so loudly.
Don’t agree with me? That’s cool. Here’s a counterpoint from @ethantheintern
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