Monday, April 2, 2007

More Fun than Avenida Revolución on College Night. Maybe. – honolulu

The Mexico-Venezuela friendly in San Diego was the first of a five-city tour for the Mexican national team in the United States in 2007 and despite the location, it was a Mexican “home” game and a fiesta for Mexicans, Chicanos, Latinos, and even Gringos. Celebrating the “local” boy Fernando Arce’s goal, Andrés Guardado’s exciting play on the wing, supporters returned home basking in the glow of an otherwise inconsequential win by reserves and unknown youths. Some returned to Tijuana (TJ) in cars with Baja California license plates, but the great majority remained north of the border.

Beer and souvenir vendors spoke Spanish without hesitation to clients wearing Mexican green or ponchos proclaiming allegiance to Chivas de Guadalajara, Cruz Azul, and Club América. Tonight, Spanish was the language used to introduce the teams, Spanish was used to conduct the half-time entertainment (boys’ teams from San Diego and Tijuana took penalty kicks for a prize, their nationalities indistinguishable by facial features and skin colors), and Spanish was the main language, but not the only language, of the conversations around me.

But it wasn’t the Spanish that the local sport columnist commented on; it was the noise. The noise, wrapped tightly in a burrito filled to bursting with clichés explaining why soccer is so foreign, pointing out, that noise merely punctuates great play or scoring in American games before otherwise quiet, American crowds. Ironically, the stadium was quietest when the Mexican national anthem was sung- looking around, I saw no one singing.

To simply call it “noise” relegates it to the background and “it” was the most significant player in the car park and stadium- loud and relentless. The sound was at times harmonious, like the mariachi music that would periodically rise above other sources, the orchestrated, rhythmic pounding of plastic-tube noisemakers, and “Mexican” waves. Mostly, the stadium sounded like a giant party, a quinceañera with 64,000 (second highest attendance for Mexico in the US after a game played at the Rose Bowl last year) guests: random noisemakers, shouting, horns, singing, and the conversations of friends and extended families including many soccer moms and abuelitas.

The international attention paid to LA Galaxy and the astronomical figure attached to David Beckham has poetically overshadowed local rival Chivas USA, the self-proclaimed “immigrant team.” Galaxy has few “Latino” players and with Landon Donovan and Beckham, embraces the “surfer” image and Hollywood glamour- both predominantly white. The Chivas USA roster is more diverse and the team markets itself as a true Angeleno team, reflecting the population of Southern California. The combined metropolitan regions of Tijuana and San Diego have barely a third of Los Angeles’ population but with the semi-permeable border, San Diego is easily accessible to a large Mexican city with no top-level team of its own. Owners Jorge Vergara and Antonio Cue should have put Chivas USA in San Diego, as a “Californian team.” It might not seem the most lucrative market but it would have been a lot of fun, if this crowd (Mexican, American, Mexican-American, whatever) were any indication.

24 comments:

greengrass said...

Honolulu -
I've always been partial to Chivas. After your piece, I'm a firm fan!

gg

MotM said...

We keep reading of these vast numbers of people of Hispanic origin living in the US - I always wondered why they didn't attend football (ie soccer) matches. But it seems they do.

I'm a bit unsure about whether I want soccer to succeed in the the US, but this sounds excellent!

andrewm said...

Mouth, I wondered about that myself.

Why are you unsure?

miro said...

Educative, enjoyable, witty, entertaining, informative...

andrewm said...

Miro, indeed you are - but what of the article?

marcela said...

Hi Lulu.
Really atmospheric. Most enjoyable.
I was reading somewhere the other day that by some date soon (ish) the Spanish speaking population in the US will surpass the Anglophones.
Ain't that something?

duncan said...

honolulu - An evocative piece.
Coincidentally, yesterday I was at the Dallas Cup watching the u19 teams of Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt, Shamrock Rovers, Tigres, Solar and San Pualo. Thankfully the Spanish speaking contingent was much in evidence. I say that because it's nice to be around people who have a longer standing feel for the game. People who didn't need the in-stadium commentator saying "throw-in, Madrid" all the time!
Many C Ronaldo shirts, a couple of Gerrard's, Real, Barca, Athletico, Mexico, and such like.
Madrid game a performance pound-for-pound (peseta-for-peseta?) as good as any I've ever seen by any team. Ever.

Ebren, I sent an email asking for a press pass for the rest of the tournament!

Maybe you could change your site name for 24hrs to give me some cred.

Something like Ultra Top Soccer UK should do it...

Ebren said...

This good enough?

http://supertopuksoccer.blogspot.com/

marcela said...

nicely done, ebren.

why don't you try it on typedpad, though. i think then it may be easier to enhance entries with video and audio...

Ebren said...

would gladly - but I don't know how.

I would reproduce the footy content from here to there as well if I knew how - unfortunately, rumours of my technical prowess are greatly exagerated.

Better link to new blog:

http://supertopuksoccer.blogspot.com/

marcela said...

hey!! how did you do the hyperlink in the comments box?

Ebren said...

I batted my eyelids, clicked my heels, and waved my HTML wand saying: "I wish you would link, I wish you would link!"

The problem I have is I can't show you without using the characters that then dissapear.

I can explain off blog.

duncan said...

how the? what the? when the?

supertop!

guitougoal said...

honolulu,I am a Chivas Guadalaja fan since a long time.As you know America vs Chivas rivalry matches the River/Bocca'S or Real/Barca as " Classico".
Living in L.A is not the ideal situation for a football lover.When Chivas opened a new franchise in Los Angeles, I was looking forward to finally have an opportunity to see two clubs creating an excitable rivalry. I am still waiting for this to happen.

honolulu said...

Thank you so much for the comments, I had intended to rewrite it (the 500 word limit made the subject difficult to capture), but- too late!

Yes, motm and andrewm, why don't you want it to succeed in the states?!?!

gg and guitougoal: I really want to like Chivas, but as a passport-carrying American, I couldn't help but be offended that it is a franchise! And, I'm opposed to the marketing scheme, making people identify with a team based on socio-economic status- I'm not an immigrant and Galaxy makes me think of fastfood: so which one should I support?
Neither!

There really should be an MLS team in SAn Diego- it would do well and if they had put Chivas here it would have regional support instead of a racial/economic one.

I am all for rivalry and derbies but I don't won't support either side in a war between light and dark, or between earlier immigrants and more recent immigrants.
Between San Diego and LA?!?! San Diego rules!!!

I guess I should have put all of this in the actual blog...

(thanks, miro, marcela, and duncan)

munni said...

Honolulu, nice piece. I remember listening to a piece on NPR (National Public Radio) a few years back (probably around the time Chivas USA was founded, so 2004) about how the MLS is marketed. The MLS guy they were interviewing said that, when the league first started, they made a conscious decision to market it towards white, middle-class suburbia, and NOT to Latin American/other immigrants. He said that they have since decided that this was a mistake, and are trying to "re-brand" themselves.

MotM, I too have mixed feelings about wanting soccer to catch on in the US. Difficult to articulate why, but a large part of me feels that if soccer were to become popular, at this time, in this cultural context, it would be inauthentic and, well, wrong. But, as an LA-dweller who spends far too much time trying to explain both the game and its appeal to my friends and acquaintances, I'm probably being deeply hypocritical.

offside said...

Lulu,

glad to see you in good shape after your night with us in the taproom.

Thanks for an enjoyable and informative read. More, please, whether it's about football, synchronised swimming or haggis hunting.

MotM said...

I guess I'm conflicted, as the jargon has it, about soccer's success or otherwise in the US.

On the one hand, I (still) think it a great game and would like to think that another 300 million or so could have acess to the kind of pleasure that I have enjoyed for a thirty years or more.

On the other hand, that pleasure won't be available if the American Sports business model penetrates much further. Crudely put, franchises, the promotion of the event, the foregrounding of star players, no relegation, even the enhanced facilities at grounds (as well as any number of other prejudices I may hold anbout American top flight sport) are the anathema of the English Game.

Call me a dinosaur, but that's just the way I feel and I don't think I'm alone.

*Anti-American warning. I am not anti-American, but I do think that globalised communications have concentrated huge influence in the hands of the few and those few are often American. That brings joys (like this Google-backed Blogger technology) but fears too.

MotM said...

Gotta start proof-reading before posting. Sorry about the typos above.

Bluedaddy said...

Lulu, you rock! Oops, wrong blog.

I like this idea of Latin football being the means to popularise footie in the US. Surely we need a little more pizzazz on the pitch, even as we perhaps need a little less off it, or at least less of the commercial bullshit and more of enthusiastic fans having a great time, whilst still appreciating the subtleties of the game (WC 06 compared to WC 02?)

honolulu said...

I completely agree with you motm,and I believe soccer is promoted in this country only to make money.
I wonder if a "club team" would be permitted to play in MLS?
I'd like to have a big trial for all the players of all the outdoor leagues in San Diego, get the best 22 and see what they can do. The problem, of course, is the money...

I just might write a piece on haggis-hunting...

offside said...

Lulu,

can't wait to read your account of haggis-hunting. In the meantime, why don't you step into the taproom for practice?

pipita said...

Honolulu

Very interesting read. It made me remember George Best referring to his times with the LA Aztecs,during the NASL experiment, stressing that it was the mexican contingents of fans who helped enhance the atmosphere whenever the Aztecs played at home

BlueinBetis said...

'lulu,

very nice read!

the U.S. is just an outpost of the Mexican Empire, and you know it!!

hehehe

Tweet it, digg it