Sports: The Jogo Bonito and the Olympics

I’m from San Francisco but I’ve never been convinced by baseball nor by football. Not a Giants fan and never been to a ‘Niners game. So it was strange that I enjoyed soccer (known as “football” in most of the English-speaking world) so much.

When I came to Mexico, I experienced my first World Cup. People in the streets, honking their horns, swirling noise makers and waving flags. It was a national celebration and the streets were Party Central.

There is a football commercial for beer that has as its slogan “El futbol nos une” (Football unites us).

And it makes me wonder what unites Americans.

I had gone to a “posada”, a traditional Nativity celebration here in Mexico, held in the days before Christmas. All the Mexicans were singing song after song and then, they passed the guitar to us:

Now you sing one.

We were five Americans at the party but we all looked at each other blankly. What song do you know? I don’t know. What can you play? I don’t know that one.

We could not find one song between the five of us to sing whereas everyone else knew the words to about 20 songs.

When the Mexican National Football Team wins a game, people in Mexico City (and in all major cities all over Mexico) gather at the Angel of Independence (or at the most popular monument or plaza) and parade around with flags and noisemakers. And that’s what happened when Mexico won in a surprising 2-1 upset against the reigning kings of the jogo bonito (“play beautifully” in Portuguese), Brazil.

The only time I can think of that people in the States rally behind each other are in times of crises and in the Olympics. If the US didn’t have super power athletes like Phelps, Lochte, the women’s soccer team and the Fab Five, I think the US would be a country of very lost souls.

Until Rio for jogo bonito and the spirit that  moves us to be Olympians.


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