Theoretical question for you today. My son is almost 17 months old. I’m English by birth, now living in California, my wife and son were both born in California. My son therefore is both an American citizen and a British one. He already has two passports, and has used them both, the lucky whatsit.
Football, as it is correctly called around the world, because you primarily use your feet, or soccer as it is known in the US, where a game you primarily use your hands in is called football instead, is a sport I’m vary fond of. It is a game that is easy for anyone to play, but requires some skill and technical ability to play really well. I don’t think people in the US understand how big a game this is around the world. Compare the world wide viewing audience for the Super Bowl which was estimated at 167 million for 2012, against Liverpool Vs Man Utd, an English League fixture which has an estimated world audience of 500 million. Football is huge around the world. In the UK, the daily papers will have five or six pages of football news daily, and the football headlines normally dominate the back pages. It is a shame that it isn’t bigger in the US (although it is growing, and the MLS is slowly building and improving), because a really competitive US team would have something to add to the game.
So the question. Let us assume for a moment my son grows up and turns into a skilled football player. He moves to Europe and plays in one of the big leagues, perhaps the English Premier League or the Spanish La Liga. He is good enough to be selected for a national team. He will qualify for both the English and USA national teams, and lets assume, they both badly want him. Money is not an incentive for international football, so who should he choose?
There is obviously a lot of patriotism here in the US, so it might be expected that he support his country of birth. But let us assume for a moment that football has grown in the US, but is still not at the level of American football, or baseball. It would be more prestigious to be a player for England, the birthplace of football.
Would he have more chance of winning something with England? Well England are usually highly ranked in the international team rankings, usually in the top ten, but currently have not won a tournament since 1966. English fans always think the team is going to win (or expect it). When it comes to tournaments, they are usually not good enough (which is sometimes a tale of season end fatigue, but that is another story). The US team is more often making up the numbers, but did have something to contribute, as in the last World Cup. But should a chance of winning be the decider?
Obviously the level of support in the US for football, and the quality of both teams could change in the next twenty or so years until he is old enough, and grown up enough, so I guess I am asking in todays context. Should he be in a position to choose now, which should he choose?
Lexicon word of the day: modicum.