Saturday, September 02, 2006
The Joys of Slaying the Dragon
The Greek national basketball team knocked out the United States of America yesterday, and I don't care. To be truthful, I was riding to work this morning, and when I heard it on the radio, I smiled.
A few years ago (hell, a few months ago) the thought of me saying that simple of phrases was anathema to my nature and self-flogging in the most heinous of ways. I am, -and always have been- an unapologetically American nationalist. I love my country to the death and every stinkin' flaw that comes with it. I bleed the stars and stripes, I am proud of the great democratic experiment, I prefer hot dogs and apple pie to escargot or fish n' chips, and I still think soccer is not as fun to watch as Futbol, er... Football. So why the uncaring feelings towards this latest incarnation of the dream team? Simple, I'm just getting older. I realize the needs of the many sometimes outweigh my own myopic ones.
In 1980 the American Olympic Hockey team beat the Soviets,... we beat the freakin' Russians. It was the biggest thing of the times. David slayed Goliath,... heck, put any of the hundreds of available cliches,.. it was an amazing feeling. Can anybody forget Mike Eruzione's goal? Goalie Jim Craig, flag-draped and looking for his dad in the stands? I was going out of my mind watching it. You think I'm exaggerating? That, -and the election of Ronald Reagan- made this once-a-Republican-puppy-of-a-man join the Navy and serve my country,... just to put the last nail in Soviet Mythology.
This is different. I still love my land, love my countrymen, and would die defending mother America, no matter the cause or call. But sports? Its not that important to me. Not as important as knowing that every single person in this planet should be blessed with the experience of a magic moment where you do the impossible; a moment that is not supposed to happen; when you rise against all odds, against a force of immeasurable magnitude and just kick King Kong in the balls. Can you imagine what those guys are feeling? A team with not a single NBA player in their roster beat what is arguably the greatest collection of basketball players ever assembled. I would kill to feel that. I would love to know what it is to do the impossible. To me this is not about nationalism, or about sports any more. Its just about accepting the simple unfathomable (to me) premise that the singular act of doing the un-doable transcends politics, nationalism and any other division. It is universal in language and good for the collective of man.
The USA team will get over it. They will just take a shower, jump into their 24-inch spoked-wheel spinnin' Humvee and live to party and play another day. Some may let it linger a bit more than others but for the most part, in a week or two they will be in Curacao sippin' umbrella drinks. The Greeks?.... they simply will be National heroes forever and will never have to buy another drink in a bar in their entire lives, Ever. If the Americans would have won, well they were supposed to kill the midgets, so no big deal. But the Greeks? they slayed the dragon, and how many of us can say that?