The 2010 World Cup is Africa’s first, but in a sense, it’s really been a coming out party for the Americans. I mean, if you look at the Hot Topics from this year’s World Cup, there are three main talking points so far:
- The Freak Show known as France (now gone but still not forgotten)
- The ubiquitous sound of the vuvuzela (see last week’s Soundcheck segment for more)
- The Malian referee who mysteriously disallowed the Americans' winning goal against Slovenia.
That’s right – you don’t actually get to soccer until the third spot on the list. But once you do, you have to talk about the American team. The goal that beat Algeria and got the Americans into the knockout stage (in first place, no less, ahead of England) remains the single most dramatic moment of the World Cup so far. And it has made fans, at least temporarily, of millions of Americans who otherwise like soccer slightly less than a vuvuzela band accompanying their candelit dinner.
So for a while, at least, America gets to share the world’s obsession with “football.” We’re learning that soccer is war (just ask Germany and England); and war means knowing your enemy. Of course, there is the danger that people learning about Ghana - home to the infectious Afropop style known as “highlife,” and those remarkably sophisticated, centuries-old drum ensembles – will fall in love with it. That’s okay – just not until Sunday.
Do things like soccer matches, the Olympics, etc, get you interested in learning more about opposing countries – their music, culture, etc.? Leave a comment.