By Abby Waysdorf aka louisquatorze
Hello England! Over the past few months I've noticed a lot of complaints about the state of your national football team. The possibility of not qualifying for Euro 2008 is looming, and I see reactions ranging from despair to dismissal. Perhaps it's time you learned something from us Americans- the fine art of picking an alternate national team.
Americans have long needed another national team to support for when the US either goes out of or doesn't participate in major tournaments. There are several ways of picking. One popular way is to go back into your heritage. This is particularly common of late among Italian-Americans, who have the benefit of a distinct culture and a World Cup winning team. However, this may not work for you English, as I understand most of you descend from other English people. That's fine. It doesn't work for all Americans either. My family background is Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, and Austrian, with I think a little bit of Ukrainian thrown in. Most of the time, I'm better off just supporting the US. Being Jewish, it's been much nicer for us here anyway.
Another good option is the travel one. Been somewhere? Enjoyed it? Got a T-shirt? Then you have a national team. In fact, you don't even have to go there, you just have to like the idea of the country. This is why England is so popular over here- you guys have been cool since the 60's. That makes a great default alternate national team for a lot of Americans. We also speak the language, which means that most of our football news comes from you. Brazil are also very good at marketing themselves as fun and interesting. Plus, their track jackets are in great colors. People who couldn't care less about football wear Brazil track jackets, which are normally bright yellow with stylish blue or green accents. Find a national identity that appeals, and follow that team.
There's also picking a national team based on a person. If you're a fan of a Premiership team, you likely have a good selection to choose from (Arsenal fans like me are spoiled for choice). Take your favorite player and follow his team. If, for some reason, your favorite player is English, don't despair. Your inspirational person doesn't even have to be a footballer. My early fandom of England had as much to do with Robert Smith as any other variable, and my brother backed Sweden in the 2002 World Cup based entirely on ice-hockey great Peter Forsberg. Any writer, singer, or car company can be your muse. Be creative!Then again, you can always throw arbitrariness out the window and simply watch games, find a team you generally enjoy, and support them. It doesn't make a good bar story, and usually doesn't provide photographs, but it can be rewarding anyway. I've been delighted by Germany recently. They're an exciting young team that seem to really enjoy their football. And their track jackets are excellent.