November 8th, 2016 is a day that many Americans saw one of the greatest political upsets in recent memory. According to most polls, the democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was supposed to defeat the republican nominee Donald Trump comfortably. This was not the case, for weeks both candidates struggled as they dealt with scandals, which in turn lead to more distrust from the American public. After many developments in both campaigns, Trump beat Clinton convincingly.
One of the big issues that was brought up during the campaign was Trump's position against Mexicans and Syrian immigrants. He claimed that Mexicans were "bringing drugs, crime, and they were rapists." He also perpetuated a tremendous amount of islamophobia and many folks began to feel on edge. Many times it often sounded that he was grouping all immigrants into a large group of lawbreakers regardless of ethnicity. It also didn't help that his son Donald Trump Jr tweeted outrageous propaganda like what is shown below:
With Trump winning the election, many people have began to feel ostracized. People from various religious backgrounds, sexual orientations and those who immigrated from another country felt that Americans may have turned their backs on them when Trump won the election. Some have even started a movement in which they are calling for the hashtag not my president to be used on social media. With these developments in our political landscape, I began to wonder how this was going to effect the famous "Dos A Cero" match between The United States of America and Mexico that was scheduled to take place in Columbus, Ohio on Veteran's Day.
Arriving at Mapfre Stadium approximately four hours prior to kickoff and what I witnessed was absolutely astounding. People were already at the stadium tailgating and having a good time FOUR HOURS before kickoff. People of various ethnicities conversing with one another talking about sports and asking about each others cultures. On this night, politics had taken a back seat. As I walked around the parking lot, I saw my fair amount of people in US Soccer apparel but I also saw people in some pretty awesome attire.
What I saw as I walked through the parking lot were US and Mexican supporters talking and conversing with one another and I was personally invited to a few of the "El Tri" tailgates where I talked with a few supporters and I asked them their thoughts about the ongoing political situation. Several told me that they were "concerned", but not to concerned. Some were more concerned for friends and family, but many saw the game as an opportunity to heal some wounds and bring us all together.
One of the beautiful things about soccer is that it is a very inclusive sport. Soccer supporters are quite understanding of one another, and while they seem to take the game very seriously as it is being played between the lines, after friendships are cultivated through each others differences as we learn about each others cultures and backgrounds. USA vs Mexico was no exception to the rule. Ultimately, it was a hard fought game, but after I found many Mexican fans willing to shake hands and I even heard stories of supporters from the US trading jerseys with Mexican supporter. Was that match going to fix relations between the two countries? No.
However, that match at Mapfre Stadium brought 25,000+ people closer to one another and allowed us all to understand each other just a bit easier. No one knows what the next few years has in store for us all, but we need to make the journey a bit more fun. If you have not attended a USA versus Mexico game, I highly recommend you do so. It is one of the best atmospheres out there. Make sure to arrive early, take a walk around the stadium and learn about your fellow supporters. Take your experiences and tell you family and friends. Grow the game and we may grow a better understanding of one another.