With all the things the United States has done for Germany, isn’t it time for a little payback?
- By Daniel AltmanDaniel Altman is the owner of North Yard Analytics LLC, a sports data consulting firm, and an adjunct associate professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Okay, so maybe things between the United States and Germany haven’t been so cool lately, and by cool, I mean friendly, not Greece-Turkey cool. Yeah, we tapped a few phone calls and stuff — hey, at least we admitted it! — and you sort of took that the wrong way. (It was because we care about you, bro!) And yeah, maybe we didn’t listen enough to your warnings about the financial system. (That was totally good advice, btw.) But we really need a tie game in the World Cup match on June 26, so if it’s no big deal, maybe we could talk about all the awesome things we Americans did for you German folks? I mean, there are a lot of reasons why we can just wrap this whole soccer/football thing up today, right? Okay, here goes:
1. We liberated you from the worst tyrant in history. You know who else tried to beat America? Okay, you didn’t thank us for it at the time — you were drunk! it’s cool! — but that dude was ill, and I don’t mean the good Wu-Tang kind of ill. Yeah, he was pretty organized and definitely had the fire inside — probably would have made a good coach, too. But seriously, those black shirts are not your best look. Stick to the white and green ones.
2. We gave you the Marshall Plan. C-A-S-H. M-O-N-E-Y. See, when we break things, we fix them — just like in Iraq. Okay, bad example, but we gave you like $120 billion in today’s dollars to put your country back together, all Humpty-Dumpty style. Okay, bad example, but at least American football wasn’t part of the deal. That came later. And we’re really, really sorry about it.
3. We fed West Berlin for a year. Can you smell what I’m cooking? You could in 1948 and 1949, when we dropped all that food — and I’m not talking about those lame Meals-Ready-to-Eat — into the city to piss off the Commies. And you know what? Those Berlin folks were some hungry people. All I’m saying is we had the Hershey factory working overtime, you know?
4. We protected you for half a century from the Red Menace. How psyched do you think your players would be about trying to beat those Russian dudes for places on the USSR national team? Okay, bad example, but I bet your players prefer their salaries at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to a few hundred kopeks a month at Spartak Moscow, am I right? (Wait, a billionaire owns Spartak Moscow? Shoot, you know what I mean!)
5. We usually let you win. We know this soccer/football thing is really important for you, so we like to let you shine your little light, okay? I mean, we may be more powerful and richer and all, but soccer/football is totally your thing. So since you all became one big happy country in 1990, we only beat you, like — wait, we beat you three times out of nine games? Dude, that’s awesome!
6. You’ve done this kind of thing before. Remember the 1982 World Soccer Cup in Spain? Yeah, I don’t, but you know how all you needed was a win over Austria for both teams to make the next round? Remember how you scored after 11 minutes, and nobody did jack squat for the rest of the match? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You guys are old hands at this. We’ll buy the big jugs of beer after the game, okay? I know this awesome place in Recife…