Friday, June 16, 2006

What He Said (WC Edition)

Left unmentioned (by me) in discussion the Germans late win vs. Poland was the meaning of the identity of Germany's game changing performer, David Odonkor, as explored by Jesse Zwick at TNR's World Cup Blog:
As a young American Jew spending his first few hours on German soil, let's just say I'm leaning toward skepticism. As I sit down to the match at an insanely crowded cafe in the heart of Bonn, the two syllable chant of "Deutsch-land" is nearly deafening, and leaves a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach

. . .

David Odonkor, whether fairly or unfairly, represents a lot to me about Germany. Not only is he one of Germany's many offensive-minded young stars that threaten to abolish its boring style of play forever, but he is also black (or at least his father is Ghanaian). When this young black man appeared on the sidelines to the loudest cheers I had heard all night from my German companions, something inside me changed. I no longer feared the cheers of "Deutcsh-land" that came pouring forth, but rather embraced them. For if this new German nationalism can embrace a half-Ghanaian boy as its national hero, its good enough for me. And when his cross led to German ecstasy across the country, I too, I must admit, was ecstatic.
Though it's often silly how much sports mean to many of us, if there is one area where the meaning is less superficial it is in issues of race - France's '98 World Cup win featuring a French Basque captain, Senegalese midfielders, led by an star of Algerian parentage was seen as a direct rebuke to Le Pen style nativism. In the U.S., it seems the only time we speak about race with even a remote degree of candor is in discussions of sports. Those were some of the things on my mind as the German crowd roared its approval for Odonkor before his electric performance. One can only imagine the adulation he'll receive next match.

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