Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The War of 1812 - Part 2

I have a very unique perspective being an American citizen and Canadian resident.

I can work in Canada. I can go to school in Canada. I can vote (absentee) in America. I get the coveted Canadian health care. I see some Canadians going to America for treatment because that coveted Canadian health care takes so long to get.

But probably the most interesting part of this perspective is hearing what Canadians think of Americans from inside their country.
Erin McLeod couldn't stop Alex Morgan's game-winning header
 And after the Canadian women’s soccer team lost 4-3 to the U.S. women in a very controversial match, Canadians don’t think much of us Americans right now.

Controversy came when, in the 78th minute of regulation, Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was given a foul by the referee for (what was perceived as) wasting time. According to the rules, an indirect free kick is given to the opposing team as a result.

So let me set the scenario for you: Canada is leading 3-2 against the top ranked team in the world, America. Canada has been dominating the match so far. There are 18 minutes left in the game. If Canada wins, they go to the gold medal match against Japan. Japan beat America in the 2011 World Cup. Canada hasn’t beat America in 11 years.

And the referee has just called one of the most obscure fouls in all of sports.
Megan Rapinoe celebrates after her wicked strike
But wait, it gets better.

Megan Rapinoe—midfielder for the States and probably one of the best midfielders in the women’s game today—takes the indirect free kick awarded to the States and the ball goes off the arm of not one, but two Canadian players.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Now, if you know me, you know that I’m a somewhat more than casual soccer fan. My son and daughter both play soccer (my daughter, a midfielder, scored her first goal ever a few weeks ago, the game winner—woo-hoo!) I love watching both men’s and women’s soccer, within various professional leagues.

So when Canadian supporters (fans and analysts alike) say a proper handball is when the player extends the arm away from the body to impede the ball, I can’t dispute that. It sounds right, though.

And when those same supporters point to the missed handball call on Rapinoe in yesterday’s game (if I remember correctly, she was sliding in the box to block a shot), I throw their logic right back at them. Rapinoe didn’t extend her arm to impede the ball. She did extend her leg, though. 

Even this soccer noob knows that’s okay.

So here’s where my unique perspective comes into play.

I was a History minor in college at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (with a major in Rhetoric, Creative Writing focus). I loved American History, a love fostered by Mr. Chappelle my junior year in high school at Thornwood.

One of the things I’m sure I learned during history class at university was the War of 1812. What did I learn? Beyond the war being fought in 1812, all I can give you is an, “I ‘unno,” and a shrug.

You know what the Canadians learned about the War of 1812? That they kicked America’s ass.

Every time there’s a break in Olympic coverage on CTV or TSN, Canada runs commercials about how they kicked the ass of the American invaders and drove them out of this wonderful land (which wasn’t called Canada at the time, if I remember correctly).

I swear that commercial runs a good 20 times a day, especially during the Olympic events America is participating in.

And they say only Americans beat their chests and wave their flags.

Okay, so maybe Laura Secord doesn’t beat her chest and wave a maple leaf flag in the War of 1812 commercial, but that victory for damn sure resonates with Canadians.

One Canadian supporter, interviewed during the game by the Toronto Star, actually described yesterday’s U.S.-Canadian soccer game as: “It’s like the War of 1812 all over again. But with women, so it’s smarter.”  

I suppose you can guess her gender by that statement. And no, that wasn’t a sneaky diss.

Christine Sinclair (#12) reacts after losing to the United States 
I must give props to Canadian forward Christine Sinclair, though. The U.S. couldn’t stop her; they could only hope to contain her. And she’s all class, too.

But here’s where that unique perspective comes in again.

When asked about the controversy after the game, Sports Illustrated columnist Greg Wahl quoted her as saying: "We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us," said Sinclair afterward in a particularly bitter moment. "It's a shame in a game like that, which is so important, that the ref decided the result before the game started.”
Note his word choice of “bitter” to describe the moment.

In a bit of juxtaposition, Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly used the same Sinclair quote, and then followed it with: “After last night, the committee that gathers to decide the Lou Marsh Award for Canada’s top athlete next year can start drinking at noon. It won’t be a very long meeting.

Kelly is right, though, I should also note that his headline for the column is: London 2012: Canadian women robbed in soccer semi.

I bet no American women woke up this morning thinking Canada got robbed.

Which brings me back to my unique perspective a third time.

As we were watching the game yesterday, my Canadian wife asked me who I was rooting for. I answered, “America, of course.” 

It’s my birth country. Despite its many, many deep flaws and faults and issues, it has given me perspective and helped to shape the man I am today—for the better, I like to think.

But I also wanted Canada to win. After every goal Sinclair scored, I quietly cheered inside.

How could I not?

I have a Canadian perspective, too. 

Top Photo: David MOIR/REUTERS
 Middle photomARK J. REBILIAS/usa today sports


Anonymous said...

Hope they get the bronze!!! I still can't believe the hat trick by Sinclair... An unbelievable feat in football...

six blocks east of mars said...

Yeah, what Sinclair did was unreal. And only the second woman to do it against the U.S. ever.

If FIFA doesn't hand down any sanctions for what was said after the game by Sinclair and Tancredi (and they'll look a little silly if they do it before the bronze medal game, no less), then France better what out.

I think there will still be some emotion from Canada in the bronze medal game, and I just don't think France will be able to match it.

Anne @ Zen and Genki said...

Heartbreaking to see either team lose when they obviously both put forth such tremendous effort...kudos to both, especially the Canadian women for rising to the challenge in spectacular fashion against a team (traditionally)ranked well above them. If FIFA's thinking of reprimanding any of the players for their post-game statements, perhaps they ought to take a closer look at the standard and consistency (or lack thereof) of the officiating. It's been done in other sports during these Olympic games (taking more thorough stock of the ref'ing)with (imo) results that were fair in the long run. Regardless of what happens, cheers to all of the fierce female players on both sides of the border who have certainly done nothing but positive things to encourage other girls (most notably my own daughter) to pursue their dreams as professional and/or Olympic athletes.

six blocks east of mars said...

@Anne: The officiating has been atrocious at this Olympics, and not just with soccer. There were some boxing and fencing mistakes that cost at least one athlete a gold medal.

The IOC just announced this morning that the Netherlands referee who officiated the game is done for the Olympics, but not because of the time-wasting call, but because she has officiated all of the games she was scheduled for. Quite convenient. And suspect.

Anne @ Zen and Genki said...

(btw, I’ve nominated most deserving you for an award! If you’d like to accept it, please check out my post here. If you’d rather not, please know that I respect the work you put into your blog and am more than happy just to have been able to mention it, lovingly, on my own.