I don’t think I realized what a high pitch squeal I have, at least when cheering for sports, until we watched the United States play Slovenia in the World Cup. We found ourselves in Bovec, Slovenia on the afternoon of the game, which is a small town in the mountains consisting of less than 2000 inhabitants. The pouring rain dashed any hopes of watching the game at the big screen television set up on Bovec’s main street. We only had about two or three other options, so we ducked into a local bar and found a spot towards the back of the room.
We quickly realized that we would probably stay incognito until the United States scored, as everyone was focused intently on the game. Plus, despite all our tough talk on the way to the bar, I realized that I am a wuss and did not have the guts to barge in a bar full of Slovenians chanting, USA! USA! USA!
In the first half, Slovenia looked strong. We watched the bar go wild when Slovenia scored a goal.
Then, in the second half, it happened. The United States scored. Sean and I both let out cheers from the back of the room. Only the two people in front of us whipped around to face us and not the whole bar, as I had feared. Luckily, they were pleasant and did not run us out of the bar. Although I had notions of good natured ribbing and cross-cultural interactions, this World Cup business was serious, especially for a small country like Slovenia. No matter how good Slovenian athletes may be, there are simply less of them. For a country as small as Slovenia, who had a scrappy fight to qualify for the World Cup in the first place, it must be frustrating to not beat the United States in a sport that is so huge in Slovenia, yet so insignificant in the United States. I almost started wishing Slovenia could win, but then my American competitiveness and pride kicked in. As it turns out, Slovenia and America tied, leaving many of the Slovenians glum. What did you think of the game? we were asked. Slovenia was robbed, they said, even though it was the United States who had what would have been the winning goal taken away from them for no apparent reason. I’m just glad we weren’t around the following week when the United States scored a winning goal against Algeria at the last minute. America’s win caused it to edge past Slovenia to advance to the next round along with England. Luckily, we were long gone by then.
[And unfortunately, before I got to post this, the US was knocked out by Ghana. So that's that.]