Manners for Mexico
Vail, CO Colorado
Some things just are.
They are things that have been around so long that they are hardly noticed. But at the same time, you notice when they’re absent. Maybe they’ve even been around so long that you don’t know the history behind them.
I don’t know when the handshake and exchange of jerseys originated in the soccer world. What I can tell you is that it is a tradition in the sport that reflects goodwill, sportsmanship and camaraderie.
This tradition has been abandoned over the last two United States-Mexico meetings ” two games that, coincidentally (or maybe not), Team USA won.
I know that during this decade that Mexico is 1-0-8 on U.S. soil, and having a big-brother rival to the north that handily beats you every time you meet on their home turf can get rough and discouraging. But, hard feelings and lack of sportsmanship don’t do much good for a rivalry.
Mexico’s players, and Mexican fans, aren’t traditionally used to losing to Team USA, but them losing to the Americans on American pitches is becoming an all-too alarming trend to which their players and supporters are having a hard time adjusting.
Team USA is on the world’s soccer radar. We are no longer the joke of the soccer community, and Mexico is revolting against the idea of being the second-best soccer team in North America.
Get over it. Get used to it.
Team USA is ranked as the 16th best team in world rankings; Mexico is ranked 26th.
There have been reports that after a U.S. victory in Mexico, I think it was the only one the U.S. has had in the last 10 or 12 matches played in Mexico, that a Team USA player urinated on the pitch. They were just reports and hadn’t been confirmed. If true, that’s disgraceful.
The thing to remember in this incident, however, is that it is one player. The Mexicans walking off the pitch without the ceremonial shake of hands and exchange of jerseys was something that Team Mexico did as a team, a unified front. Shame on them.
Mexico spat in the face of the soccer community, for a second time, by leaving its match with the U.S. on June 24 and not participating in the post-game ritual. This viewpoint is from, obviously, a Team USA fan. But I’m not the only person to think that this display of poor sportsmanship is shameful.
Magic and Bird
Gil Morales, Foco Hispanico editor, and I were talking the other night about the USA-Mexico rivalry and the lack of sportsmanship on the Mexicans’ behalf. Not a direct quote, but Gil said something along the lines of: It is bad sportsmanship. Don’t get me wrong, I was cheering for Mexico, but I don’t like seeing that. There is a lot of antagonism there … It gets nasty. They should have stayed out on the field to shake hands and exchange jerseys. They are sore losers.
So, it’s not just me.
Rivalries are so much more fun to watch when two teams go out on the battlefield and duke it out and then can leave their win or loss on the field. What made the Bird versus Magic rivalry fun in the 80s was that they gave it their all between whistles and then shook hands at the end of the game.
They had a mutual respect for each other and admired each other’s skills on the court. What ruins rivalries and creates animosity is when one half of a competition takes a loss personally.
There was nothing personal about the victory Team USA had over Mexico this last month, but apparently the loss was taken personally by a group of “sore losers.”
Get over it. Get used to it. Team USA is for real, and the world’s soccer community has taken notice that the Americans have arrived.
Matthew Seckinger is a copy editor for the Vail Daily and an avid sports fan.