[from The A.V. Club Chicago / June 11, 2010]
The 2010 World Cup tournament opens today in South Africa, with 14th-ranked Team USA’s first match coming tomorrow against bracket favorite England in Rustenburg. With worldwide viewership expected in the billions and plenty of underlying intrigue in play—What will become of Brazilian superstar right-back Maicon? Will South Africa be the lamest host-nation team ever?—Chicagoans have instead been asking far more important questions: “Is this the right jersey for my life? And where should I wear it to minimize or maximize its impact?” Always ready to help out a fellow fan, The A.V. Club put on its face paint, lit up its trusty flare gun, and made note of what it sees when it sees you wearing that shiny new kit (and also where you can go watch the World Cup without being hassled by people as judgmental as we are).
You think this shows: Respect for the game’s accessibility and universal appeal, and its ability to turn even an impoverished nation into a world champion.
But people really think: You learned everything you know about international soccer from Nike ads.
You should probably: Brush up on your basics (yelling “¡Goooooooool!” just once is bad form), and stay away from any remotely serious soccer establishment. Joe’s on Weed St. (940 W. Weed St., 312-337-3486) offers 9 a.m. kickoff boozing, although any casual sports mega-bar will do: No one will give you a hard time about your shirt, mostly because they’ll be wearing the exact same thing.
You think this shows: That you bask in the cosmopolitan side of the sport, keenly attuned to the glamor and glitz that have defined the last 20 years of English soccer, yet you maintain reverence for the elite talent England has produced, from Sir Bobby Charlton to David Beckham.
But people really think: No one told you that Beckham is not only injured, but also hasn’t been England’s most important player since 2002.
You should probably: Find someplace savvy but keep your mouth shut, lest anyone point out how ridiculous “footie” and “pint” sound in your Midwestern dialect. River North gastropub English (444 N. LaSalle Blvd., 312-222-6200) may be your best bet for expressing your fandom without being afraid to say “quid” and “wide boy.” You still won’t be a full English soccer fan, but is that really a bad thing?
France, Greece, Chile, New Zealand
You think this shows: You’re either from one of those nations (which makes this cool), or you root for the underdog for no good reason (which does not).
But people really think: You’re a jaded sports fan who hasn’t yet mastered the art of ironically endorsing a terrible club that will inevitably get crushed in the early rounds. Ideally, you would have gone with any of the 175 nations that didn’t even qualify or, if you’re the daring type, North Korea.
You should probably: Watch as passively as possible. The patio at the Wicker Park outpost of Small Bar (2049 W. Division St., 773-772-2727) offers refuge from the soccer madness inside and, as an added bonus, the locals will appreciate your clothing as, um, commentary.
United States of America
You think this shows: U-S-A!
But people really think: U-S-A!
You should probably: U-S-A!