Home Features MacKenna On Monday: USA Have Been Pompous & Arrogant But That’s Okay

MacKenna On Monday: USA Have Been Pompous & Arrogant But That’s Okay

As tough as it can be to utter out loud, there’s no denying that Alex Morgan was completely correct. With the United States’ deserved semi-final victory belonging to the past, and most eyes turning to yesterday’s World Cup decider, there were still those that wouldn’t let it go.

Some English players claimed upset around her tea-sipping celebration (and that moment also gave loudmouth ignorance via loudmouth idiots like Piers Morgan the chance to shout ‘look-at-me’ via descriptions such as it’s “bordering on a declaration of war”). Yet Morgan’s was a rare voice of reason. The top scorer in recent weeks suggested those being critical look at their reactions to male counterparts’ celebrations and threw in the idea of some of them “grabbing their sacks”.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Megan Rapinoe to be a tad less subtle about it all. “Wa, wa, wa,” was her response to a pseudo-controversy created by those with very little to worry about.

Morgan in her moment had managed to tap into a real-world humour and bring a genuine smile, but to be fair the frustration many felt was that this wasn’t stand-alone and on most other occasions her team have completely missed the vibe and have been well wide of both decency and humility. There were her’s and others’ pathetic premeditated celebrations as they beat Thailand 13-0, driving the families of the outmatched Asian side to actual tears; there was Rapinoe talking about how she’d refuse a White House visit as a winner when there were still 16 teams left in the hat; there was the build-up to yesterday being all about what that fourth star will mean on their jersey; there was that in-your-face USA assuredness that’s so hard to digest.

It’s quite a lengthy and unlikable rap sheet, hugely heavy with arrogance and a jock-style obnoxiousness rarely seen at the top of a truly global sport, and even if it turned out to be somewhat justified it was impossible to cheer for. So let’s be frank as this has been a competition and these are athletes that deserve equality and fairness and to be seen the same.

Therefore the United States have been a massive bunch of assholes, smacking of smug.

And for that we should be hugely thankful.

* * *

If you’ve never heard the chant, you’re lucky. If you don’t want to see it, look away now.

I…
I believe…
I believe that…
I believe that we…
I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win…

About as catchy as it is snappy, it misses out on so much of the cutting humour we’re used to from football terraces. It’s the latest in a long line of what makes the United States so clunky and ill-fitting in an area they’ve been getting some serious notions in.

There are endless references to Team USA, as if they can’t simply go along with the rest when it comes to their title. There are the acronyms such as USWNT, as if we’d be confused but for the painfully blatant description. And then there’s the fact that this is again their country heading out beyond their borders, completely lacking the self-awareness to realise the genuine feeling towards them, while exuding a sense of entitlement about everyone liking them and what they represent. If a sporting team should be a microcosm of their nation, these lot are sadly perfect.

But for just a moment, imagine had they, or at least their attitude, not been around this World Cup. For sure there are those that will buy into their own country at any cost and appreciate this for what it is, but that’s a minority given the place women’s sport wrongly holds in our consciousness. Thus how many have tuned in purely in the hope the United States’ words would blow up in their faces? That they didn’t allow for the narrative and therefore interest to be sustained right until the end, making it damn interesting throughout.

To credit the States, in sport, to be hated is to serve a purpose as there’s nothing worse than the smarmy platitudes and pats on the back for mediocrity that evokes no emotion.

Indifference is far worse than a serious dislike thus we owe the USA.

When you watch so many of the ESPN ’30 for 30′ documentaries as an example, they look back at the yin rather than the yang, at the darkness rather than the most blinding light. From the 1990 Miami Hurricanes college football team that were as ill-disciplined as unstoppable, to the bad boys of the Detroit Pistons who crossed the line from hard to dirty and kept on going until they were champions, people revel in their attitude. For heroes to exist there have to be bad guys as the plot wouldn’t be as catchy if Superman was involved in balancing the budget or Batman was trying to improve traffic flow in Gotham City. That’s what women’s soccer would be without the USA. And that’s why while the likes of Morgan and Rapinoe are household, name a player from another country? Tough, isn’t it? There is so much beige beside their colour.

Besides, people are flawed so let them be. That’s identity and that’s what we can identify with. As proof, it’s why we’d take John Daly over Jordan Spieth, Colin Kaepernick over Peyton Manning, Tyson Fury over Anthony Joshua. As much as they irk, we’d, therefore, take this USWNT too.

They are a reminder that it’s not that the characters are gone for people are fundamentally interesting and everyone has a story if they can tell it. Yet more and more our sport represses that. And why? Ask any sports psychologist and they’ll tell you that the best environments for performance are when people can be themselves, but how many really can be anymore?

The lot lifting the trophy have been and they made us feel and care. It may not have been in a positive sense but don’t consider that as a negative either. Indeed down the line, we’ll likely thaw to them as the hated teams tend to become beloved years after they were hated and are actually missed in those eras where everything is sanitised and bland and boring.

Say what you will about the United States but they’ve been anything but that.

As tough as it can be to utter out loud, God bless the United States of America.

Or at least this small and pompous representation of their country.

About Ewan MacKenna

One of the country's top sports journalists, and a recipient of Irish Sports Journalist of the Year.