South Bronx, NY: The Soccer World Cup is being played in Qatar, on the other side of the planet but I can attest that it is also influencing people here in the South Bronx. Let me explain. I personally was not over enthused about the soccer world cup as I usually am for other world sports tournaments.
The fact that growing up in the South Bronx, I have basically been a baseball, boxing, basketball, and football fan. All my friends growing up and at present, like me are not putting up betting pools, or organizing watch parties for any soccer game. I did not even know the exact date when the games were to begin, so definitely missed the opening ceremonies. Of course, not having my country, Puerto Rico in this world tournament, or any of the countries I know best, Dominican Republic and Cuba (none are major soccer countries) not playing and not having any Latinosports.com coverage helps explain our lack of coverage.
Then a funny thing happened working from home. Since I like sports and respect athletes no matter what sport I decided to put the television on without sound as our home is all about music. Sometimes we have three, four different music genres playing in different rooms and areas of our home. Soon I was beginning to pay a bit more attention as I heard a Latin American country, or Spanish surname mentioned. I became so interested in the games that we turned all our televisions, our bedroom, living room and our office in our lower floor to the games. Soccer had infiltrated my home and to my surprise my wife, Blanca and I were commenting on some of the games and some of the incredible plays by some of the players that she, or I saw.
We stopped a few times as we walked throughout our home in our usually busy schedule to watch the Argentina Vs. Qatar game. We were curious because we had been learning a lot more than what we knew. Thanks in part to being bi-lingual and watching the game in English on two TV’s and Spanish in one and sometimes just changing between channels. We were particularly interested in see Argentina’s star player, Lionel Messi and Portugal’s, Cristiano Ronaldo. We had heard so much about them, especially in the Spanish Telemundo coverage.
The fact that we got to see a historic soccer game, probably the biggest upset in World Soccer Cup history when Qatar held on to beat Argentina 1-0, made our day. We were reminded of this game more than a few times as today we have many more Muslims, Africans and Asians living, or working in our community. It appears that many Third World countries of color were also celebrating Qatar’s win. My Saudi, Muslim doctor guest was super happy and shared his enthusiasm with us and throughout the Muslim, African world by sharing Facebook posts with us.
During the middle of the week, I went to Martin Luther King Health Center for a follow up visit and was surprised that the televisions in several of the waiting rooms were not showing the typical local news, or some soap opera, but all were tuned on to the World Cup. I enjoyed watching the game rather than reading my magazine or checking my social media. Several nurses and hospital employees were constantly asking about the score as they walked by.
In addition, the fact that the USA team had held the more powerful England to a 90 minute 0 -0 tie and survive that match made the USA stand out as a team that belongs in the World Cup. Every time I spoke to a friend via phone here in New York, or in Puerto Rico I asked them if they had been watching any of the soccer games and to my surprise several, like me had seen several coverages of some of the games. Now I am convinced that soccer has not only been introduced to my home, but to my community.
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