For some strange reason, an editor at the LA Times gave John Ziegler, an AM radio host, space to make poorly written arguments and turn an enjoyable event like the World Cup to discuss the politics of assimilation.
Ziegler tries to draw links between watching World Cup soccer on Univision, as opposed to ABC or ESPN, and immigration from “the South” (but he really just means Mexico). He writes
THE HEART OF the debate over illegal immigration comes down to the problem of assimilation. For many of us who generally oppose the silent invasion from the south, if those who broke the law to come here acted as if their true loyalties were with the United States, then much of the fire in this highly combustible subject would be doused.
While at first glance it may seem an odd place to find enlightenment on the issue, the local TV ratings for games involving Mexico and the United States in the ongoing World Cup may provide some of the best evidence yet of where Spanish-speaking immigrants’ true loyalties lie. (for the rest)
He then goes on to make some rather lame points. First, he compares the LA broadcast ratings for the first few games Mexico and the US played. The total percentage of households that watched Mexico play in either English or Spanish was 28.1 and 19.8 for the US games. Second, the ratings for the Mexico games were much higher than those for the US games on Univision (21.7 to 11.8).
Ziegler reads these numbers and interprets them to mean that Spanish-speaking immigrants (codeword for Mexicans) have divided loyalties. I told Isa this and she said what I was thinking, “Our loyalties are not divided. They’re all for Mexico.”
Sort of. I ardently cheered for Mexico in all their games. My eyes got watery when I heard the national anthem. I was despondent when el Tri tied Angola, sad that they lost to Portugal but relieved that they advanced to the round of 16, even if it was de pansazo. I didn’t watch the US vs. Czech Republic match because I was at work. I didn’t cry when they lost 3-0 but still cringed. I cheered for the US against Italy and was glad that they tied. I watched Ghana beat the US and didn’t feel bad about it. In fact, I was glad Ghana won.
Can Ziegler be right? Does cheering for el Tri make me anti-assimilation? No. If you want to see my views on assimilation, you might want to look at other indicators. I’m definitely acculturated, but I’m wary of assimilation especially if it means giving up my mother tongue and connection to mis raíces. Still, I can’t deny the fact that I read Ziegler’s op/ed piece in an English language newspaper and am writing this post in English.
Did hoping for Ghana to win in their game gainst the US make me un-American? Nope. It just made me want to see the US not come in first in an important international competition. It’s nice to see an underdog win. By advancing to the round of 16, I’m sure the Ghanaian national team made their people much happier than a round of 16 berth would have made the US. Apparently, everything stopped in Ghana for the game, but people here barely care about the World Cup.
Ziegler may have had numbers, but he had no idea how to make sense of them. This is soccer, not a war. Watching games in Spanish is a simple personal preference.
1) Just because you watch the game on Univision does not mean you are an immigrant. Hell, I’ve watched almost every game on Univision and I was born in the US, am bilingual, and an upright citizen. Okay, I don’t know about the upright part, but I do take my civic duties seriously. But serioulsy, a lot of my Flickr buds agree with me.
2) This isn’t about assimilation or whether or not we’re becoming American. The definition of American should not be confined to cheering for the US team and watching the games in English. To me it is about sports, competition, cheering for the underdog and connecting with people. Cheering for el Tri just feels right.
3) As César (El Más Chingón) wrote in reply to CAD’s question, “real soccer fans know it’s Univision all the way.”
Have you actually watched the games in English? I fully understand both Univision and ABC/ESPN and choose Univision. Why? It’s not because I’m anti-assimilation or want to be more Mexican, it’s simply because the English language broadcasters are boring. They talk about the US as two other teams are playing. They also bring io politics which isn’t something you want to hear about when your mind is on soccer. My friends, Yousef and Mohammad, switched to Univision while watching Mexico vs. Iran because they got tired of the commentators talking about invading Iran. They don’t even speak Spanish, but it was better than ABC. I also noticed while watching Italy vs. US on Univision that ABC was delayed a few seconds. Finally, I had to watch Mexico’s games against Angola and Portugal in English because I don’t have cable TV.
Now, for the reasons I prefer Univision. I like to hear the commentators exuberantly call out “¡goooool!” I love the Coca Cola Borghetti/ice cube commercial and the fact that they show all the games. I can’t stand to hear Spanish names mispronounced and watching Mexico play while listening to the announcer speak Spanish just makes more sense.
Ziegler, it’s fútbol. Es la Copa Mundial. It should be enjoyed in whatever language helps to make the experience better. Para mi, esa idioma es español.