The Copa América Centenario kicks off on Friday, when the US national team takes on Colombia at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California (9:30 pm ET on FS1, Univision, UniMás and UDN), and to honor the occasion, Google has unveiled a dedicated Copa América doodle on Friday morning.
The doodle is what they call the fun, artistic reimaginings on the Google logo that suddenly show up on the Google homepage. They're no big deal, really, but they always get me. The cultural cachet, the cleverness of the artwork, the fact that a massive, multibillion-dollar corporation is willing to be whimsical -- it all seems to mean something more. Something about the Zeitgeist.
And whenever they do a doodle about soccer, this game that I've spent my lifetime playing, watching, and working for, I feel a tinge of pride. Or, at least, satisfaction. I feel like Sally Field giving her Oscar acceptance speech for Places in the Heart. It feels validating.
Absurd, I know. It's just a doodle, for crissakes! Google does them all the time. And this one will be gone tomorrow.
But what can I say? The feeling is a remnant of the inferiority complex that has afflicted the American soccer fan's psyche for too many years. Old habits die hard. On the verge of the biggest soccer event to happen on US soil since the 1994 World Cup, I can't help but see big symbolism in small gestures. After all, I was at the Rose Bowl on that fateful day the last time the US played Colombia in a major tournament. It was a beautiful day and a glorious victory. If you would've told me that evening as I celebrated the result at a bar in Pasadena that soccer would be where it is today, I would've spit up my cheap beer.
Now it's no big deal that we have a soccer doodle. Imagine that.
I'm going to do a lot of Googling today.