My wife is not a sports fan. In fact, had we not met on a spring break trip outside of the U.S., I fear that my athletic proclivities would have shown through– it was Tourney Time– and she would have given me up for lost. She participated wholeheartedly in following the second half of the Bulls dynasty and, though she hates football, she was as jazzed as I was when Rex Grossman came off the bench in the Atlanta game and mourned along with me at the Bears' failure against Carolina.
My wife is also not a nationalist. She was born in Ecuador and I think its fair to say that she loves a good deal about the country– food, culture, its astounding natural beauty, her family. But she does not have a flag hanging from her rear-view mirror or anywhere else. I can almost guarantee that she does not know Ecuador's independence day. [I just checked, she guessed 10 de Agosto.] (The fact that she is not sure of the name of the president –she guessed Palacios, which is close– can't be held against her, as the country's populace has a tendency to change leaders more often than most nations change the coaches of their soccer teams.
Thus, I am once again amused to no end as Ecuador stages its amazing run through the World Cup. In 2002, we joined some Ecuadorian friends and affiliated gringos for Ecuador's World Cup debut, a loss to Mexico. "Its the first time I feel proud to be Ecuadorean," she said, jumping up and down Ecuador's first goal. This week, she's been wearing her yellow jersey to the gym and giving me play-by-play updates over the phone. (I've been in conferences during both games and have missed all the fun.) Saturday morning, Ecuador will face either Sweden or England, and no matter the result I predict tears. Si se puede.
(For the record, she also rooted for the U.S. yesterday– her observation was that "in any other country, Kasey Keller would be a national hero," praise with which Ethan, who awards the goaltender his man of the match award, agrees.)