The American Hate Conundrum

By Benjamin Massey

July 5th, 2015 · 3 comments

Anti-Americanism is the Canadian vice. Not sporting rivalry but the full-blown Carolyn Parrish “damned Americans, I hate those bastards” experience. When Americans run into this attitude they treat it with the indulgence of an older sibling seeing the younger’s inferiority complex – quite correctly, too – but I think your average American would be surprised to realize just how deep and widespread genuine antipathy to his country can be up here.

This places the soccer fan in an awkward position. On the one hand, the genuine anti-American nauseates anybody of feeling. The attitude ranges from an “I like a lot of them as individuals, I just don’t like their culture” to, well, Carolyn Parrish, and provokes a careful changing of the topic or a robust neighbourly defence, depending. All very proper, but naturally it leads to some reluctance to cheer against American national teams too zealously, lest one become the sort who expresses distaste for rap music and winds up chatting to the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

On the other hand, rivalry is rivalry and the United States is the most ancient of enemies. That alone doesn’t cover the unique virulence of the loathing many Canadians feel, but there is something especially awful about this United States team. Our domestic clubs chafe under the Yankee yoke and condemn too much Canadian talent to obscurity. Abby Wambach is the bane of sports, an opinionated, arrogant, self-promoting and self-absorbed moral dumpster fire who is finally turning off even her own fans as her ability falls far behind her attitude. The only thing saving Wambach from being Lucifer incarnate is that she plays on a team with Hope Solo, who simply put ought to be in remand rather than a World Cup final. Add Sydney Leroux, who seeks all the affection and benefits of a Canadian star without any of the responsibilities, and tries to escape the consequences of her actions behind a phalanx of sycophants, and you have the best recipe for legitimate hatred ever concocted. Even players both decent off the field and skilled on it like Alex Morgan indulge in nauseating gamesmanship, and while real jewels like Megan Rapinoe may shine the more brilliantly for their rarity, they are too few to make the difference.

If you are a non-American, and particularly a Canadian, you have plenty of reason to boo the USWNT even if you wear a tattoo of George Washington over your heart.

But did that paragraph not restate the bad sort of anti-Americanism in a different way? For why do we so intimately know about Wambach’s swineishness, Solo’s actual evil, Leroux’s dishonesty? Because they are Americans. Their media are our media, and for every four rah-rah-U-S-A reporters there’s still one to dig in the dirt, and in a country that size it adds up to quite a few.

If a Japanese player smacked around her family, and two more had gone on TV shouting superstitious fear-mongering about artificial turf, and the locker room was a hotbed of the worst sort of infighting, how many Canadians would know? The Americans are disadvantaged because they speak our language and we know them, or think we do.

Moreover, don’t the sins for which we excoriate the USWNT – colossal arrogance, violence, hyper-competitiveness mingled with entitledness – match awfully well with the worst Canadian stereotypes of Americans? German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, while unquestionably gifted, is by all accounts an unpleasant customer and was highly active in the anti-artificial turf controversy. Which Canadians booed Germany because of her? Some of our attitude is a bit too pat, a bit too flattering to ourselves, to withstand much criticism.

In the end the heart wants what the heart wants, and those American women are hard to like while the Japanese team plays an attractive style and is otherwise a blank canvas onto which we can project our ideals. Oh, I’ll be rooting for Japan today, make no mistake. Leroux alone makes any team she plays for my least-favourite team in women’s soccer. But let’s keep our brains running as well as our hearts, and stay away from the Canadian vice, that twists disliking a national team into disliking a nation.

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3 responses to “The American Hate Conundrum”

  1. Ty says:

    Yeah, the Carolyn Parrish types are annoying, but we are a separate country, and it is sports.

    I remember talking to a Pirates season ticket holder at a ballgame a few years back, and he was talking about being at the first Pens game back from the 2010 Olympics, when they congratulated all the players who had been at the Olympics. Crosby got a standing O, and he said his first reaction was absolute disgust. He turned to me and said, “I love you guys, but I fucking hate losing to you guys.”

    Not every emotion has to result in self-conscious hand wringing. That’s the REAL Canadian vice.

    • Benjamin Massey says:

      Not every emotion has to result in self-conscious hand wringing. That’s the REAL Canadian vice.

      Damn, you’re right, too.

    • Duncan says:

      Interesting you bring up hockey as that’s obviously the one area where Canada is all of a sudden the big guy that everyone wants to usurp and that wants nothing more than to just keep getting bigger and better and more dominant. when the olympics come around, or especially the world juniors (kids for fucks sake) and Canada are the big team, the media pumps them up into noble heroes and the public laps that shit up and unabashedly cheers them on as they crush some hapless east european triers.

      In the right circumstances, Canadians whether players, media and fans can be just as obnoxious as any other country. do other teams and countries thus love to beat the canadians, or hate losing to them? the russians obviously do, the above comments suggest the americans can get pretty sick of us as well.

      basically, yes, it’s sports, the uswnt are very unpleasant, as are many other teams, and thus it’s natural to cheer against them.

      the bit that amuses me is seeing quite a few americans on twitter seemingly genuinely puzzled that canadians or other countries would be cheering against the uswnt, seemingly hating them with a passion much more than the usmnt. Seems such an obvious answer as to why.