Friday, 10 August 2012
Today, I woke up at 3:45AM Japan time to watch the gold medal Women's Soccer match between the USA and Japan. I was sick and tired, but forced myself to stay up until the US's second goal in the 55th minute. I originally wanted to stay up until Japan scored, but they didn't do so until later in the second half and I didn't quite make it there. The USA beat Japan 2-1 to win the 2012 gold medal.
I was quite disappointed.
My mother is Japanese, and my father is American. I speak both languages, have grown up in both places, and am a citizen of both countries with the passports to prove it.
So I'm not horribly upset that the USA won. Far from it, in fact. They played a great game, and I'm proud of them.
That said, I have been a hardcore Nadeshiko fan ever since they beat the USA in last year's World Cup final. Nadeshiko is Japan's nickname for our women's soccer team, named after a flower that's not very pretty but incredibly durable. A fitting epithet for a team that rose miraculously out of the ashes of the 3/11 earthquake.
But this morning, my father walked into my room. After informing me that Japan had lost, he asked, "So, how does it feel to be a traitor to your country?"
He meant the US, of course. And while I protested that I certainly was not a traitor since I am from both countries and have equal opportunity to support both or neither, I wondered about his statement.
This wondering comes from another conversation that my family had last night, where my Japanese mother and American father began a quickly-stamped-out argument on whether or not the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings were justified. Stamped out by me, who didn't want to continue an argument that I knew could never come to a satisfying conclusion for both parties.
When a couple hails from wildly different cultures, it can be difficult for them to reconcile conflicting ideas. Some of these ideas, like those about education or gender roles or the way that a child ought to behave toward her elders, are more below the surface. Others, like who you choose to support in the Olympics, are not.
In an ideal world, your team at the Olympics shouldn't make any difference in the state of your relationship, and I hope it doesn't. But I also know that there are some people who are patriotic to a fault, and others who are extremely competitive. A couple whose members have both those traits and are from different countries seems to be begging for a fight.
So my question is directed to those who are in relationships with people of different Olympic loyalties. Has your Olympic rivalry affected your day-to-day life at all?