The Philadelphia Eagles football team has a Greek player on their roster named Chris Maragos.
Why do I know this? Do you think I’m some fantasy football nut or one of those crazy amerikanoi tailgaters that get up at 6 am to eat hotdogs and drink Budweiser outsides football stadium on a frigid Sunday morning in November?
First, it was my mother who noticed the Greek last name on the back of Maragos’ jersey as she was patiently waiting to see what the weather was going to be like on a local tv station. Mom only watches American TV, to see if it’s going to rain or snow, for everything else like most Greeks her age, it’s Greek satellite.
The second person who mentioned Maragos is a good friend of mine who fills me in on all things Greek. He will call me at midnight if he finds out that Obama went to a Greek diner in DC to eat spanakopita.
“Did you hear about the doctor in Texas who saved a kid’s life? GREEK”.
“The developer who’s building 100 homes in your neighborhood, GREEK.”
“Did you see the latest research that shows that eating feta cheese instead of sharp provolone with every meal decreases your chances of a heart attack.”
“The basketball player who was drafted 147th by the Los Angeles Lakers, GREEK.”
At a movie theater once after the flick had ended I did what most people do, I got up to leave when wife and Greek co. quickly told me to put my butt back on the seat. “Are we watching another movie”? I asked but didn’t get a response because they were all too busy looking at the screen and the hundreds of names that were scrolling down showing everyone from the actors to the producers to those that sweep the floors at the movie set. “ELLINAS” I hear while a finger was pointed at a Greek name on the big screen.
Sorry but I can’t see the Germans, the French or the Japanese doing the same thing, “look, look Jaque Pierre he’s FRENCH he’s FRENCH!
I think it was last year when Cosmos Philly ran a story of 2 Greek-Americans that were playing in the baseball World Series, malista. News flash: We still need a few hundred more to catch up to the Dominicans.
Then there’s the NBA professional basketball team, the Milwaukee Bucks who have a Greek-born player of Nigerian descent named Giannis Antetokounpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak”.
Giannis was born on December 6th, 1994 and only recently got his Greek citizenship (May 9th, 2013). I wonder what took so long? You don’t think it’s because his parents are immigrants from Nigeria, do you? Nah.
Anyway, Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks played the Sixers in Philadelphia a couple of years ago so what did we Philly Greeks do? We had a Greek night of course complete with ouzo, roasted lamb, and loukoumades while our dance groups perform the Kalamatiano at halftime.
Heritage nights are a way for the NBA to make money and if there’s a Mexican seven footer playing center you can rest assured that there will be tacos, mescal and Dos Equis in the house that evening.
When I asked a few non-Greek friends who were at that game their response was along the lines “is that what was going on? I was wondering about that; I didn’t pay attention because I had to use the restroom”.
Our disappointment of the changing landscape in Greece with the influx of Albanians, Pakistanis and Africans will just have to be put on hold for a while so that we can cheer for Giannis on the basketball court.
I get it, we do these events not for the xenous, but for us and that’s fine but let’s not get carried away and believe that we are somehow changing the American landscape and turning non-Greeks into Greeks.
Greek pride also has its drawbacks. If a Greek commits a crime or a Greek politician in America does something stupid, it’s a bad reflection on all of us. “He embarrassed us,” as my mom would say. “Mom, take it easy, the Greek serial killer lived in Utah and had nothing to do with us.” I would tell my mother to comfort her and with her head down she would say something like: “his last name is from a neighboring village, he’s from Peloponniso, mas ntropiase.”
Honestly, I don’t think the majority of the population cares if their doctor or the hockey goalie of their favorite team is Greek or Canadian as long as he’s good at what he does.
I often wonder though who’s better off, the older Greeks who identified with all things Greek and went to the Greek named dentist or attorney or people like you and me who in becoming part of the American fabric leave some if not all of the Greek culture behind? Do we really want just to throw a couple of lamb chops for Easter on the grill or be surrounded by our extended family while the whole lamb is roasting over hardwood coals?
I don’t know about you, but I would rather do the lamb, open a cheap bottle of retsina and share it with all 300 of the wife’s soi and friends rather than an expensive French Cabernet Sauvignon and have no one to drink it with.
I’ll just go listen to some Yianni CDs for now and patiently wait for Maragos and the Eagles to take to the field this fall. Did you see how he blocked a punt against the Patriots that was returned for an Eagles touchdown last year?