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September 13, 2016

How Soccer Showed Me the Global Playing Field

Posted by Ocean Tama

Bolivians and Ocean.jpgWe live in a big world that is getting smaller every day. That fact recently hit home when my two boys took part in the Dallas Cup, an international youth soccer tournament. During the event, we hosted two 15-year-old boys from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. 

My connection to Bolivian soccer began in 1986, in Ithaca, New York, where I was an avid youth soccer player. That summer, our local team traveled to Sweden for the Gothia Cup, the World Cup of youth soccer. A Bolivian team known as Tahuichi played to packed stadiums and was widely regarded as the best youth club in the world. 

The Tahuichi organization today sponsors the Tahuichi Way international youth soccer camp to engage kids in sports. To date, more than 3,000 Bolivian children have attended, free of charge. My oldest son trained at Tahuichi last summer, and this year, we welcomed two Bolivian boys named Matias and Roger for 10 days. 

Both boys were familiar with American brands and trends. During their visit they wanted to buy “joggers” — a pant style popular with U.S. teens. Matias and Roger use the same brands of toothpaste and shampoo that we use, and they quickly recognized the same brands of microwaves and toasters that are common in Bolivian kitchens. 

Ideas like globalization, the increasing pace of technological change, and interconnectivity can sometimes feel abstract. Yet, as I used my rusty Spanish to talk with Matias and Roger, I heard practical examples of how quickly cultures are becoming more interconnected. Thirty years ago, the boys would not have asked for “In-N-Out Burger” for their first dinner here, nor would they have used “WhatsApp” to call Bolivia for free through our WiFi connection. Yet as telecommunications advance, our economies are becoming ever more interwoven. 

May 2016 research, for example, from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas showed an increasing correlation between China’s recent economic slowdown and effects on the U.S. economy: 

“It appears that the impact of slowdown in China on the U.S. economy has increased over time — at the turn of the [21st] century, slower growth in China would have had a small effect on the U.S.,” write Research Economist Alexander Chudik and Research Assistant Arthur Hinojosa. “Today, reducing Chinese output growth by 1 per¬centage point shaves about 0.2 percentage points from U.S. output growth.” 

From the macro view of entire economies to the micro view of everyday life, globalization is playing an increasing role. Sometimes, the merging of these worldwide trends surprises us, like the use of Wi-Fi or the toothpaste, and in others, we intentionally study economic outcomes. 

But the coming together of many factors is shifting our view: The ease of travel, advances in communication technology, the exponential growth of available information, the movement of people and goods among countries, portable job skills, and a mobile population are all converging to change the playing field of our personal and professional lives.

Ocean Tama is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas..

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