Monday, July 9, 2007

¡España! ¡España!

Patriotism in Spain, at least among the younger generations, is really only acceptable when in conjunction with a sporting event. The patriotic flags, t-shirts, and patches commonly seen in the States don't appear too much here. But when the various selecciones - national selection teams – are playing everyone’s a patriot. Same thing goes for whenever a Spaniard is competing in anything. The cause of this weekend’s outpouring of pride was twofold - Fernando Alonso competing in the Formula 1’s British Grand Prix and Rafael Nadal playing in the Wimbledon Championship. Spanish sports fans defend their compatriots to a fault. Alonso’s inability to win a race is not his fault, but instead is blamed on his sponsor’s favoritism (mental and equipment-al) of his British teammate. Rafa’s lost games and sets are not a result of incomplete play but rather a complicated strategy that only sometimes produces results (according to the extremely biased Spanish commentators).

Spain’s diehard support of anything Spanish (but only when in comparison to or in competition with anything international) is quite possibly a result of it being such a small nation, at least in contrast to the States – my only real basis of comparison. I certainly feel a stronger affinity to St. Louis than to the United States in general. A matter of size and intimacy, perhaps. But my pride goes deeper than just sports. So far, in Spain I’ve seen it just in sports. And maybe when it comes to food…

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