Adelante Selección! (Go Team!)

Honduras is depressed. The country has suffered trauma after trauma over the last few months: first a major earthquake, then a political crisis that has dragged the economy into the mud. Most people are worried sick over the crisis and its consequences. Public school children will pass to the next grade having had classes only sporadically for the second half of the school year. Hotels, restaurants, gift shops, the transportation industry, and anyone else who relies on tourism, a major source of income in the country, are wondering how much longer they can survive the economic doldrums that the crisis has provoked. And more than anything the average Honduran, having neither contributed to nor benefited from the ouster of President Mel Zelaya, is heartbroken to see his beloved country treated as the black sheep of the world.
But tonight nobody will care about any of that. Tonight Honduras’ national soccer team (La Selección) has the chance to make Honduras the happiest country in the world. There is really no comparison in the United States to the importance of the Selección in Honduras. Not even Monday Night Football or the president winning the Nobel Peace Prize could possibly unify the population the way tonight’s game will. From San Pedro Sula’s Olympic stadium, to bars and homes with televisions tuned, even in the farthest reaches of the countryside where only radio waves reach poor peasants who walk hours over mountains to get to their homes, everyone will be glued to this game. Honduras has only qualified once for the World Cup, 27 years ago in 1982. A win tonight will guarantee their participation in the 2010 games in South Africa. The odds are in their favor – their record at home in World Cup qualifying games this time is 8-0. But the United States’ team, equally set on the goal of qualifying, will be playing to win.
The outcome of the game remains to be seen. It is hard to see how a loss could throw the country into a deeper depression that it already finds itself in, but the euphoria produced if they win might just be enough to jolt us into recovery.
By Sophia Anderson


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