Tuesday, September 30, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

The World Cup has me thinking about national identity

EvanReamW

By
From page B1 | July 06, 2014 |

“Do we shape our identity, or does society shape it for us?”

The above quote was an essay prompt that I assigned with the text “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee to my 11th-grade Honors English students this spring at Da Vinci Charter Academy.

During this World Cup, I have thought of that essay prompt every single day.

When the 11 individuals dressed in blue trotted out in front of a sellout crowd of 75,000 at the newly christened Stade de France for the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final, the world laid its eyes on what represented a modern France.

The starting lineup was littered with representations of France’s colonial past with players such as Marcel Desailly, Lillian Thuram and Christian Karembeu, who were born in Ghana, Guadeloupe and New Caledonia, respectively.

After the first two goals were headed in by second-generation Algerian immigrant Zinedine Zidane to secure France’s only World Cup title, his image was projected onto the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which was ironically constructed to celebrate France’s military victories, including some in North Africa.

“It’s a bit artificial to bring players from abroad and call it the French team,” right-wing politician and French “nationalist” Jean-Marie Le Pen said during the tournament.

While egregiously xenophobic, Le Pen’s comment brought up a point that comes to mind every four years when the world stops to watch 32 teams compete for the World Cup: In an increasingly globalized world, what is national identity?

The United States has never truly colonized, but its global influence was thrust to the center stage each and every game this World Cup.

Against Ghana, substitute John Anthony Brooks covered his face with his hands in disbelief as he celebrated scoring the winning goal.

His raised hands revealed two tattoos on each elbow — one the outline of Berlin, where he grew up, and one the outline of Illinois, where his father hails from.

As a result of his goal, an online prankster changed Brooks’ Wikipedia article to state that he was “the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln.”

The muscular defender is one of five Americans on the U.S. roster who was born into a family that featured an American serviceman father and a German mother, showing the extent of the our nation’s “colonization.”

In the next U.S. game, Jermaine Jones scored one of the best individual goals of the tournament to become “the greatest American since John Anthony Brooks.”

As another one of the German contingent on the team, Jones actually played three times for Germany in 2008 before a FIFA rule change allowed him to represent the United States.

Thanks to the ease of global travel and the improvements in technology, instances similar to this aren’t irregular in the vast world of soccer.

New Jersey-native Giuseppe Rossi plays his international soccer for Italy.

When Mesut Özil plays poorly for Germany, he is considered Turkish. When he plays well, he’s German.

Jerome Boateng plays for Germany while brother Kevin-Prince Boateng plays for Ghana.

Sixteen members of Algeria’s 23-man squad were born in France.

So why do they do it?

It turns out that the reason is very similar for each person.

Jermaine Jones never felt like he fit in with the German team.

Rossi grew up with an Italian family, spoke Italian at home and played for Italian youth clubs.

Off the field he feels American. On it he feels Italian.

The Algerians have a strong sense of country. Even if they were born in France, they grew up labeled as Algerian and therefore feel a stronger connection to the Maghreb than Europe.

Every player, it seems, has his own definition for national identity and each constructs it for himself.

Three years ago, former USA U20 player Preston Zimmerman sent out a 16-tweet barrage about how the German-American players who German-born coach Jurgen Klinsmann fielded weren’t “real Americans” because they “couldn’t speak English.”

By Zimmerman’s definition, the players aren’t American. But their identity isn’t up for Zimmerman to decide, even if the United States does not have an official language.

So if you want to boo players like John Anthony Brooks and Jermaine Jones — because of their thick German accents — that is your constitutional right.

But if you ask me, only they can decide who and what they are.

— Evan Ream is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at eream@davisenterprise.net or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam

Comments

comments

Evan Ream

Evan Ream graduated with a B.A. in journalism from Southern Oregon in Ashland, Ore. He loves soccer more than any person rationally should. "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that." - Bill Shankly
.

News

Poppenga outlines ambitious agenda

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Cool Davis Festival is très chill

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Man on a mission: Rob White seeks to transform Davis

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Find the perfect club or organization to join

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C2 | Gallery

 
Forum examines Props. 1 and 2 on November ballot

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Assembly candidates will be at Woodland forum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

California approves landmark ‘yes means yes’ law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
TSA bomb training may be noisy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Try out basic yoga on Thursday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
DCC welcomes students with free lunch

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Gibson House hosts plant sale and garden event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
UCD, University College Dublin will cooperate on food, health

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Accessibility technology on exhibit at fair

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Covell Gardens breakfast benefits Komen Foundation

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Put your hoes down and celebrate the harvest

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Panelists discuss raising children with special needs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

DCC hosts fair-trade gift sale on Oct. 11

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Emerson gives away old textbooks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Number of wheels: How many bicycles do you have in your household?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C5 | Gallery

 
Fraud Awareness Fair set Oct. 15 in West Sac

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Downtown history tour planned in October

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
DMTC makes musical theater accessible to everyone

By Bev Sykes | From Page: C9 | Gallery

 
Take home a wreath from Davis Flower Arrangers’ meeting

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Snapshot: A night out with the neighbors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C10

 
Davis school names reflect interesting history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: C12

Snapshot: Plenty of places to park it

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C14

 
Snapshot: Dive into Davis fun

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C15

Snapshot: Kick garbage to the curb

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C16

 
Snapshot: Sounds like a party

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C17

.

Forum

He seems happy at home

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
The great bedtime conspiracy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

They’re best-prepared to lead

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Vibrant and hard-working

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Archer has the right stuff

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Get on your bikes to meet Davis’ greenhouse gas goals

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Marsh case shows need for ‘Maupin’s Law’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

.

Sports

‘Playoff game’ or missed chance? Either way the Aggies move on

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils move atop league standings with win

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Only 15 months out of UCD, Runas off to LPGA Tour

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis golfers get teaching moments in forfeit win

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Two Junior Blue Devil squads emerge victorious

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

 
.

Features

.

Arts

I-House film series continues with ‘Monsieur Lazhar’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Pleasant Valley Boys cool down Picnic in the Park

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

‘Art Farm’ exhibition will open in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Acclaimed guitarist Peppino D’Agostino to play The Palms

By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9

 
Woodland artist hosts event at her new studio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Michael Allen Hanks Baxter

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7