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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Conflicts of Interest

Last night was an excruciating one for American soccer fans living in Africa.  The USA team has played against so many odds (two consecutive games with unreasonable calls that negated clear goals) while maintaining team work, spirit, attitude, honor, that we have grown quite excited about them.  It's probably the most America-connected our kids have felt in many years, a good thing as we head to the USA for the rest of 2010.  And yet, this is the first World Cup played in Africa, and there is only one African team left in competition.  Sadly USA had to meet Ghana last night, and someone had to lose.  Our team came over for ice cream sundaes (!), even the Johnson kids who were hours post-bed-time did their best to stay awake, and I even came up with some little American fags to wave while we cheered.  This was one match we decided NOT to watch with our neighbors, as EVERYONE in Africa was rooting for Ghana.

As it turned out, Ghana beat the USA 2 to 1 in overtime.  It was a close and well-played match.  Jack took the loss quite hard.  But no matter what the outcome was last night, we were going to be conflicted.  If the USA had won, we would have been living in a community where our country had dashed the hopes of the continent.  I remember well watching with our students as the younger Ghana team won the under-20 World Cup, an event that instilled hope and courage and pride.

So we are sad that America lost this, proud of their effort, glad that the continent of Africa still has representation going into the quarter-finals, and excited about the potential for football and sports in general to galvanize an entire people to live up to their God-created reality.

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