La Hora de Verdad, or How Eric and John Spent an Afternoon Watching Soccer in South Tucson

18 Aug

This week, we’re going to run a short, two-part series on the confluence of international soccer and social relations that happens when Mexico plays the US on the pitch–be that pitch in Mexico City, Phoenix, or Jeonju, South Korea.

Last Wednesday, the United States men’s national soccer squad traveled to Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca to take on the Mexican national team in a World Cup Qualifier. That same afternoon, Eric Huxley and John Weatherford traveled to the Peter Piper Pizza at 12th and Ajo in Tucson to watch the Stars and Stripes take on El Tri. Here’s Eric’s words (by the way, he’s working towards a Master’s in Latin American Studies) and John’s photos (arranged in chronological order from before the broadcast to during).

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In 2004, controversial author and Harvard professor Samuel Huntington published his last and arguably most provocative book: Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. In that book, Huntington examines the erosion of American self-identity, which he claims is a direct result of, among other things, Latino immigration.

To make this point, Huntington begins the book with a vivid description of a Gold Cup soccer match held in Los Angeles between Mexico and the United States in which “fans were immersed in a sea of red, white and green flags”, and people were attacked for trying to raise the U.S. flag.

With this in mind, my good friend John Weatherford and I made our way over to 12th and Ajo last Wednesday to watch a World Cup Qualifier held in Mexico City between the U.S. and Mexico. Telemundo was calling the game “The Hour of Truth” and had been advertising an event at Peter Piper Pizza here in Tucson with free giveaways and a raffle. We didn’t really know what “The Hour of Truth” was supposed to mean and we weren’t looking for any free prizes. We were just excited to be able to go where we could watch a soccer game with a small group of passionate fans.

John and I quickly realized that we had underestimated what passion looks like for a group of over 300 fans of the Mexican national team. We were “immersed in a sea of red, white and green flags”.

Early Arrivers

Before I go on any further let me make two things clear:

1) When I fill out forms for school or the doctor’s office, I always check the box marked “White/Not of Hispanic Origin”.

2) While living in Guatemala, I learned that the Mexican national soccer team plays dirty, is arrogant, and is always to blame for Guatemala not qualifying for the World Cup. Therefore, I had every intention of rooting against Mexico, knowing full well that I represented the US in front of hundreds of Mexican fans.

1 hour before kick off

My “Hour of Truth” came about ten minutes into the game when the Charlie Davies scored the first goal of the match. I, along with a few others, clapped and cheered, and that was all that happened. When Mexico scored ten minutes later, the place erupted. I was neither attacked nor mocked after either goal. In fact, with the exception of a friendly smile once in a while, no one really paid much attention to me at all. Mexico went on to win a 2-1 victory and Peter Piper Pizza at 12th and Ajo witnessed as much passion and excitement as any sports bar in Central Tucson on Super Bowl Sunday.

Serious Fans Only

So, should we fear the erosion of US national identity at the hands of passionate soccer fans? Absolutely not. Aside from showing that Latinos are passionate about soccer, there is not a whole lot to be inferred from emotional displays of support for Mexico’s national soccer team. Many people, including Samuel Huntington, have made a career out of stirring up fear among the general public. Please stop listening to them and find out for yourself if there is anything to fear in South Tucson. And sorry, monthly excursions to El Güero Canelo don’t count.

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One Response to “La Hora de Verdad, or How Eric and John Spent an Afternoon Watching Soccer in South Tucson”

  1. Jeff Baj 18.08.09 at 8:10 pm #

    Hilarious and solid contribution to all.

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