the remix
In November 1997, Jamaica’s soccer team qualified for the 1998 World Cup
finals in France. This marked the first time ever that a team from the
British West Indies reached the finals and only the second instance that
the Caribbean region would be
represented.∞ During the Jamaican team’s
‘‘Road to France,’’ many newspaper commentators saw the fervor of na-
tional spirit that was generated as an example that Jamaicans could be
unified across the bitter divides of color, class, and culture that ordinarily
structured relationships between them. Moreover, this ‘‘one glorious mo-
ment of ‘Out of Many, One People’ ’’ (G. Brown 1997) was viewed as
transferable to other arenas of life such as politics and economic develop-
ment. Several commentators suggested that the team’s success could be
an antidote to the ‘‘rampant individualism’’ seen as characterizing Jamai-
can society since it highlighted the importance of working together, disci-
pline, striving for excellence, and patriotism (Stair 1997a). Others por-
trayed it as hopeful evidence that ‘‘we are capable of going up against
anything the rest of the world has to throw at us and to succeed in the face
of it . . . an essential trait required for surviving in a global economy’’
(Semaj 1997). The match against the United States team in Washington
D.C., in particular, was popularly and publicly understood as a contest
between ‘‘David and Goliath’’ in which the Jamaican team stood in for the
regional interests of all West Indians in America.
However, a few were more skeptical about the long-term possibilities of
the upsurge in national pride. One columnist predicted that the burst of
‘‘flag nationalism’’ accompanying the team’s success would be tenuous,
individualistic, and short-lived:
The sense of success will not translate into everyday behaviour because
the emotions associated with the sporting success are the very antithesis
of the experiences of day-to-day existence. Consequently, when the cele-
brating is over, people return to everyday survival as if nothing had hap-
pened. . . . Sports may be used as a temporary distraction and o√er hope
for progress, but true national unity will only come about when people see
real changes in the quality of their lives at all levels. (Boxill 1997)
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