A clash of cultures

A clash of cultures
Courtesy Michael Whalen
by Clay Hamilton |
The soccer rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico has been called one of the most complex in the world. The latest film by documentarian Michael Whalen explores why.

Many Americans are passionate about long-standing sports rivalries like the New York Giants versus the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the San Francisco Giants, but mention U.S. versus Mexico and they may not even know what sport is being discussed. Not so in Mexico.

The sport is soccer and the rivalry between the two teams has been called one of the most intense in the world. Michael Whalen, associate professor in SCU's Department of Communication, joined up with co-producers/directors Pablo Miralles and Roberto Donati to explore why. Their film, Gringos at the Gate, premieres June 27 at this year's Kicking + Screening Film Festival in New York.

"Soccer is tribal. It connects you to your heritage and helps define who you are."

Gringos looks at the long history, the teams, the trends, and the fans involved in the rivalry. These subjects are explored through the experiences of people on both sides of the border. “When you see a soccer game in the U.S. and a crowd of 90,000 out of 92,000 are cheering for the away team ... you have to ask yourself why,” Miralles says.

Whalen adds, “Soccer is tribal. It connects you to your heritage and helps define who you are like no other sport in the world. That's what makes the U.S.-Mexico rivalry so intense ... it forces family members and neighbors to choose sides."

In making the film, the trio traveled to both U.S. versus Mexico 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, the 2011 Gold Cup Final, and crisscrossed the both countries interviewing fans, players, coaches, commentators, and people on the street.

Read a Q&A with the filmmakers on the Kicking + Screening website and watch a trailer for the film below. If you're in New York on June 27, be sure to attend the premiere!

An article on Michael Whalen's last documentary, A Question of Habit, was in the Fall 2011 Santa Clara Magazine.

Spring 2014

Table of contents

Features

Radiant house

Building a house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. That, and changing the world.

Américas cuisine

Telling a delicious tale of food and family with chef David Cordúa ’04.

Lessons from the field

Taut and tranquil moments in Afghanistan—an essay in words and images.

Mission Matters

Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Farther afield

Building safer houses in Ecuador. Research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Helping empower girls in The Gambia. And this is just the beginning for the Johnson Scholars Program.

What connects us

The annual State of the University address, including some fabulous news for the arts and humanities. And the announcement of Santa Clara 2020, a new vision for the University.