Film Screening Looks at U.S.-Mexico Soccer
Professor’s documentary makes its NorCal debut
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:10
Competing with football, baseball and even basketball, soccer fans seem few and far between. Just over the southern border in Mexico, however, soccer is a part of the national and cultural identity.
In his documentary, “Gringos at the Gate,” Michael Whalen, an associate professor of communication, looks at the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry that has been on the rise since 2002, when the U.S. finally ended nearly seven decades of Mexican dominance on the field.
Today, the balance of soccer power is beginning to shift in America’s favor and a true soccer rivalry, perhaps the most dynamic in the world, has been born. The question for American soccer fans is, how will the rest of the country react to the rising popularity of the sport?
In the documentary, Whalen looks at how the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry affects the evolving cultural identities and team loyalties of the growing Mexican-American population, as well as the effect of the rise of U.S. soccer.
“If there’s one big thing, it’s just the idea that one sport can reveal so much about a culture,” said Whalen. “We end up learning so much about the other side”.
Having screened the film in New York, Los Angeles and now, Santa Clara, Whalen said he was pleased with the feedback he has gotten, both from American and Mexican fans.
“As we screen the film around the country,” said Whalen, “we’re hearing Mexicans say they loved it, we’re hearing American’s say they loved it, and that is telling me that we hit at the foundations of what it’s really about.”
Can the success of the U.S. National Team transform the sport in this country, lifting it to the level of popularity in the rest of the world?
Not everyone seems to think so. When asked about the U.S.. team, sophomore Ryan Kaabi stated, “the level of play in the United States just isn’t big enough. Compare it to Europe: those are real rivalries”.
Contact Philip Sykes at firstname.lastname@example.org.