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A Mexican Football Team Tackles Misperceptions

By Eli Saslow

McALLEN, Texas

The coaches had spent the previous two weeks teaching their players how to handle this moment -- how to cover their ears, or close their eyes, or pretend they were back on an empty field in Monterrey, Mexico -- but now that advice had been overwhelmed by a sensory overload. Thirty-nine kids from a private school in the Nuevo Leon province had spent four hours riding across the desert on a bus without air conditioning, blue shades pulled tight over the windows to block out the sun. The kids raised the curtains, looked through the glass and found themselves here.

[Audio Gallery]

The concrete grandstands of 14,000-seat Memorial Stadium had filled with fans banging yellow ThunderStix. A 125-piece band played the McAllen High School fight song while girls twirled flags to the beat. Twenty cheerleaders clapped and tumbled across the FieldTurf, which had been installed for $725,000 only a few months earlier. Hundreds of face-painted McAllen students locked arms in the bleachers and rocked from side to side, so that the stadium appeared to shake with them.

Players for the Prepa Tec Borregos, the best high school football team in Mexico, walked across the field 15 minutes before kickoff and marveled at what they called "un gran palacio," a great palace. The Borregos played their home games in front of fewer than 100 fans on converted soccer fields, and their classmates sometimes confused football with rugby. The players and coaches had crossed the border seeking to validate themselves -- to legitimize Mexican football -- by challenging one of the biggest high schools in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.

[Photo]
The scene at Memorial Stadium in McAllen, Texas. (Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

Borregos Coach Roberto Rodríguez dropped his clipboard on the visitors' sideline and kneeled. He asked his players to gather around and lock eyes with him, so they couldn't look into the stands. Many of them had played in Texas before with Prepa Tec, but Rodríguez had nonetheless prepared them for what he considered a dual foe: the McAllen team, and the pandemonium that surrounded it.

"You must ignore these distractions," the coach told his players in Spanish. "We have a job to do here. You must forget the fans. Forget the stadium. Forget all of Texas. We came here to ..."

BOOM.

Rodríguez's speech was interrupted by what sounded like a cannon's blast, and his entire team whipped around to look back at the field. The Borregos turned just in time to see 70 McAllen football players sprinting through the mouth of a giant, inflatable bulldog. They emerged through a cloud of dry ice and entered Memorial Stadium to a standing ovation.

Arturo Abrego, Prepa Tec's 18-year-old defensive captain, turned back to face his teammates.

"Esto está loco," he said.

***

Crazy. That's what McAllen Coach Tony Harris thought in June when he looked over his team's 2007 schedule and saw the Borregos listed for Week 4. All of the other schools on McAllen's schedule were from south Texas, led by coaches Harris considered friends and star players Harris had studied since junior high. But then, jammed into a previous bye week that once promised rest and recovery, Harris and McAllen's administrators had scheduled a lucrative home game against Prepa Tec. A virtual unknown.

During his 12 years as head coach, Harris had built one of the most consistent programs in Texas by refusing to be caught unaware. He had moved from Minnesota to Texas in 1986 to become a high school assistant coach before eventually landing the $85,000-per-year gig at McAllen. He met a local woman, got married and had two kids. His son's first word was "touchdown." Most residents in McAllen called him "Coach." His office sat near the center of town, under a white water tower decorated with a painting of the McAllen bulldog.

Folks in McAllen -- a city of 130,000 with a suburban feel and a dormant downtown -- considered Harris a celebrity. On the sideline at games, the redheaded coach wore a canary-yellow shirt, a purple McAllen tie and black sneakers. "I like to stand out," he said.

Harris followed the same meticulous routine each week during football season. After Friday night games, he gathered 13 assistant coaches at the school for 10 hours on both Saturdays and Sundays and crafted a game plan for the upcoming opponent. Then, each weekday morning, Harris met with the varsity players to study film of upcoming opponents during a 50-minute academic class called Football. The Bulldogs installed new plays on Monday afternoons and rehearsed them during two-hour afternoon practices for the rest of the week.

So what to do now, Harris wondered, with the Bulldogs scheduled to play a team from over there -- a team that never traded game film and rarely sent over its official roster? The game would count for McAllen in the regular season standings, and Harris told his players they would be responsible for representing "their team, their state and their country." Harris called other Texas coaches who had played against Prepa Tec during the last five years, and he pieced together a history that expanded the pit in his stomach.

After losing badly to Texas teams in 2001 and 2002, Prepa Tec had started to play competitive games ... and then actually scare teams ... and then, yes, even win some. By the time Prepa Tec traveled to play an undefeated team at Rockport-Fulton High School outside Corpus Christi in 2005, dubious Texas coaches had concluded that the Borregos were cheating by bringing college-age players. How else, coaches mused, could a team from Mexico beat Americans in their sport? And how could they ever win in Texas, the state that cared about football most and played it best?

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Panoramic photos by Alexandra Garcia - washingtonpost.com

The coaches at Rockport-Fulton conspired with local police to set up a makeshift sting. They stopped the Borregos' bus in the stadium parking lot and demanded to check the birth date on each player's visa. Indignant Borregos players pulled out their visas and proved they were all 18 or younger, but Texas coaches remained incredulous. One school canceled a game against Prepa Tec the following year.

"You can try to check visas and ages all you want, but there's no way to know what really goes on down there," Harris said. "It makes me a little uncomfortable not to know exactly what we're getting."

Harris had orchestrated nine winning seasons at McAllen, but his success came with a drawback. McAllen's loyal fans packed the home stands at Memorial Stadium, even for the occasional Tuesday night game, and they expected a winning team. Each winter, Harris watched as about one-third of south Texas head coaches were fired, usually for losing. He called his position a "dream job," and he planned to stay at McAllen as long as he could satisfy its fans and administrators.

Like him, they didn't appreciate surprises.

***

Two days before the Borregos traveled to play their Sept. 20 game against McAllen, 150 Mexican players shared two well-tended fields in Monterrey. Rodríguez, the Prepa Tec head coach, wore a straw cowboy hat and jogged between the two fields with a clipboard tucked under his right arm. Thirty years on the sideline had softened his muscular arms and broad shoulders, leaving him with a hefty paunch that he blamed on his beloved corn tortillas.

[Photo]
Cerro de la Silla in Monterrey, Mexico. (Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

Around Rodríguez, mountains rose out of the desert like walls protecting the city -- Cerro de las Mitras to the west, Cerro de la Silla to the east -- and trapped the stale September heat. On this weekday afternoon, the on-field temperature was 102 degrees. Rodríguez saw a group of languid, sweaty Borregos players to his left and sprinted over to them. "Vámonos!" he said. Let's go! "Rápido, rápido, rápido, rápido, rápido!"

The Borregos program started as a college team at Monterrey Tec in the 1940s. Three decades later, the university added a high school feeder team at Prepa Tec, an elite private school located five miles away in the suburbs. The two schools work together to distill the top talent in Monterrey. Thirteen full-time coaches recruit players from youth leagues and offer them scholarships to play for Prepa Tec; the best performers for Prepa Tec eventually play for Monterrey Tec, which has won three consecutive Mexican college championships.

The schools share coaching staffs and a ram as their mascot, and they practice at the same time on adjoining fields at the college's complex. Players work out year-round for about two hours each day, resting for only two weeks at the end of football season. Coaches receive an annual three-week vacation, which they spend traveling as a staff to watch spring football practices at colleges such as Rutgers, Virginia and Iowa.

[Info]

Prepa Tec coaches modeled their program after those in the United States, because they have few Mexican examples to follow. Even in Monterrey, Mexico's football epicenter, the sport remains a private school phenomenon. The city's 12 high school football teams compete for field space with more than 1,300 soccer teams. Even at Prepa Tec, the soccer team plays in a packed stadium on Friday nights, while the football team plays Saturdays in front of a few dozen students.

Ten years ago, the Borregos took over an abandoned printing plant on the college campus and filled it with dumbbells and free weights. Each Prepa Tec and Monterrey Tec player does a daily routine of squats, bench-presses, dead-lifts and shoulder lifts -- even during the season. Most Borregos enter the weight room as scrawny 14-year-olds for Prepa Tec. By age 22, a few thousand consecutive days of weightlifting later, they sometimes look like professional bodybuilders in their Monterrey Tec uniforms.

"We don't want to just be good football for Mexico," Rodríguez said. "We want to be good football -- for anywhere."

Both Borregos teams play run-heavy power football, and they bully local competition. Monterrey Tec has advanced to 11 consecutive national college championship games. Prepa Tec eviscerates most Mexican high schools by 40 points or more, even though it has no home stadium.

The search for a competitive game eventually took Prepa Tec Athletic Director Ramón Morales to south Texas in 2001. He stood up in front of about 20 Americans at a coaching convention, passed out his business card and said Prepa Tec wanted to schedule a few games in Texas each season. A few other Mexican high schools regularly competed in the United States in other sports, but they only made the long trip for tournaments. Morales suggested something new: Prepa Tec would travel to Texas to play single regular season games. It would pay the bulk of its own travel costs.

To some Texas coaches, that sounded like a promise of an easy win and easy money, because ticket and concession sales for one home game in south Texas sometimes total $75,000. Morales left the meeting with a long-term deal to play a few teams from the Rio Grande Valley each year.

"Maybe," Morales said, "they thought we would show up in leather helmets."

***

Prepa Tec hosted a party in honor of its annual student elections the day before the football team left for McAllen. One candidate for student body president at the $4,500-per-semester school had hired a rock band to play in the student parking lot. Another had arranged for a professional wrestler to grapple against students. Yet another was sponsored by a local BMW dealership, which had brought a fleet of cars to the school for promotional test-driving.

[Info]

Arturo Abrego, the Borregos' senior captain, walked through the party with four friends, stopping to high-five boys dressed in tight jeans and hug girls in high heels. He wore an American Eagle shirt and a designer trucker cap, which he cocked sideways on his head. In his back pocket, he carried a Louis Vuitton wallet flush with cash. Sometimes, during moments like this, he found himself thinking, If only those Texas coaches could see me right now.

"Over there," Abrego said, gesturing north, "they think we don't have cars and we ride on donkeys and wear the big sombreros and we're all day drinking the tequila. ... Every time we go to the U.S., it's a chance to prove that's not what it is here. If we beat one school in Texas, then we're okay, too. Then we can play football, too."

Abrego had wanted for nothing during his youth in Monterrey, Mexico's wealthiest big city, and he detested the idea that anyone -- any American -- might pity or patronize him. He spoke fluent English. He listened to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. He drove a new car with a holographic speedometer. He returned home from school each afternoon to eat a three-course lunch prepared by Andrés, his parent's hired helper.

His enrollment at Prepa Tec practically guaranteed Abrego's admittance to a top Mexican university, which he hoped to follow with a prosperous career in law or business. Abrego and most of his friends crossed over to the United States every month or so for what they called "America weekends," good for shopping or beach time at South Padre Island. Each time, Abrego crossed with a tourist visa. And each time, he looked forward to returning home.

Abrego's father, a life insurance salesman, had played college football in Mexico, and he introduced his son to the game at age 4. Abrego grew to 6 feet 2 and developed into a standout linebacker. He traveled with his eighth-grade team to a tournament in Cancun, and a Prepa Tec assistant coach noticed him there. A few months later, the Borregos offered Abrego a scholarship to Prepa Tec.

Now a senior, Abrego had matured into Prepa Tec's defensive play-caller -- a hard hitter with a knack for anticipating the direction of plays. Largely because of his work ethic, coaches expected Abrego to become an eventual star for the Monterrey Tec college team. He had not missed a practice in three years. Most of his 18-year-old friends, legal drinkers in Mexico, stayed out at clubs until 4 a.m. on some weeknights; Abrego, who abstained from drinking during the season, usually stayed home. Like all Prepa Tec players, he needed to maintain a B average to keep his football scholarship.

On this weekday afternoon, Abrego's schedule required constant motion. He returned home from the election party, ate a quick meal, checked his e-mail and then headed back out the door. Because Abrego drove to practice during Monterrey's epic rush hour, he allowed 90 minutes for the five-mile trip.

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Borregos player Andrés Paras. (Post Photo)
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McAllen Coach Tony Harris. (Post Photo)
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McAllen player Ivan Gonzalez. (Post Photo)

Abrego piled his football equipment into his trunk and backed out of the family's driveway. He turned right and weaved through his suburban neighborhood, descending from the foothills of suburban San Pedro. He turned his radio to 100.3 FM, his favorite country station. It was an American station, based out of Brownsville, Tex. But the radio waves carried south to Monterrey, unaffected by the border.

***

The Borregos left for McAllen at 9:45 a.m. on the day of their game, and coaches instructed each player to clutch his visa in hand for the duration of the ride. Adrián Bladé, a junior defensive end, sat near the front of the bus and twirled the plastic card in his hand. At the bottom of the card, underneath Adrián's photo, a message was inscribed in big red letters: "US employment NOT authorized."

"Good," Bladé said. "I don't want to work for them anyways."

Bladé gathered a group of freshman teammates near his seat for an impromptu lesson on how to talk trash in the United States. During his five previous trips to Texas, Bladé had discovered a method to infuriate: Talk trash in Spanish at the start of the game, he said. Then, when the Borregos steal the lead, switch to insults in English. "That's two surprises right there," Bladé said. "They're losing and you speak English."

The players laughed and then reclined in their seats to watch a dubbed version of "The Benchwarmers" as the bus driver lit a cigarette and steered out of town on the Highway Garza Sada. Later in the day, a caravan of Prepa Tec parents would trace this same route on their way to watch the game, driving alongside the dry bed of the Santa Catarina River, past oil refineries, past the run-down border-town bars of Reynosa. By the time the team bus pulled over at the U.S. border just after 1 p.m., the temperature onboard topped 90 degrees. Players shook sweat from their shirts -- "hace calor, hace calor," they complained -- and then got off the bus.

[Photo]
Prepa Tec player Alejandro Balderas looks out the bus window. (Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

Coaches had planned for an hour at the border on account of possible lines, and the players carried their football equipment into an empty brown stucco building. They showed their visas to customs officials and then placed their equipment in an X-ray machine. Nine minutes later, the team emerged on the other side of the building, welcomed to Hidalgo, Tex., by an EZ Pawn and a Whataburger.

With five hours left until kickoff, the Borregos stopped for the $6.95 lunch buffet at Golden Corral. Then they spent two hours shopping at a McAllen mall. Bladé was just about to walk into the mall -- into, finally, some air-conditioning -- when an assistant coach stopped him.

"You need to shave," the coach, Jose Luis Gascon, said in Spanish.

"But I've been growing my beard for two weeks," Bladé said. "It looks good."

"You look old," Gascon said.

"But I'm still 17 with a beard," Bladé said.

"Yes, I know," Gascon said. "You are as young as everybody else here, but that's not the point. We don't want them to have suspicions."

Bladé shook his head in a final protest. Then he walked into the mall, borrowed a razor from a friend and spent 10 minutes shaving in the public restroom. When Gascon saw him a few hours later in the visiting locker room at Memorial Field, the coach nodded in approval. Bladé looked like a teenager again.

***

During their week of preparation, McAllen coaches had referred to the Prepa Tec game as a defining moment in their season. After losing 35 seniors to graduation, the Bulldogs had started the year 2-1. Their young skill players had shown both tantalizing talent and a penchant for inexplicable mental lapses. Harris craved consistency before McAllen played its first district game the next week.

"Do you want to go into the heart of our season with momentum, or with a thud?" Coach Harris asked his players before they played the Borregos. "Let's stand up and defend our house!"

But when Harris spoke privately to his assistant coaches, he remained convinced that the game hinged largely on the ages of the Prepa Tec players. Had the Borregos brought any college kids? How many? And how old? Even though each Borregos player had showed a visa with an age of 18 or younger to a customs official at the border, one McAllen assistant saw a group of Prepa Tec players with ripped muscles and wondered out loud: "Are they 17? Nineteen? Twenty-three? Who knows?"

The Borregos started the game on offense, and Rodríguez called for a series of power runs up the middle. During the next five minutes, the Borregos coach rotated three running backs, and McAllen stopped none of them. Prepa Tec moved 76 yards in 14 plays for the game's first touchdown, attempting only one pass.

One sideline erupted in celebration, and the other devolved into chaos. Harris paced and jabbered into a sleek black headset. His assistant coaches huddled together in the press box and reviewed digital printouts of their defensive formations, searching for flaws. Manny Udor, a running back, threw his water bottle onto the McAllen bench. "Come on!" he said. "They can't be this good."

Udor and the Bulldogs' offense went backward more often than they went forward. Abrego made 12 tackles, and the Borregos forced a safety, two fumbles and an interception. Late in the fourth quarter, as he watched his McAllen team lose yards on another running play, Harris pounded his right fist into his left hand. "Their kids should be wearing license plates," he said, "because they're running over us like trucks."

With three minutes left, Abrego exited a 19-0 blowout and wrapped Rodríguez in a hug. The linebacker sat down on the bench, closed his eyes and tilted his head skyward. The McAllen fans had left, and the big stadium was eerily quiet. The cheerleaders were packing their bags. The band had set down its instruments. All Abrego could hear were the cheers of 20 Prepa Tec parents, the team's only die-hard fans. They chanted high in the section above him -- "BO-RRE-GOS, BO-RRE-GOS, BO-RRE-GOS" -- and their words echoed off the aluminum bleachers and bounced across the stadium.

"It sounds," Abrego said, "like we're playing back in Mexico."

Discussion Transcript: October 15
» Eli Saslow was online to answer questions about this installment.

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Suit up, Tom Tancredo, Lou Dobbs & O'Reilly!

Posted by: | October 13, 2007 10:30 PM

I would also question the legitimacy of said records, and of "Creaming" Talent, of all Juniors and Seniors(How many Held back a grade or two?).

Then, the Teams to beat have traditionaly been Donna, and Weslaco!

Posted by: | October 13, 2007 10:31 PM

Is this the Mexico City Post or the Washington Post? Too bad this story had do demonize our fellow countrymen while making foreigners the heroes of the story because it had the potential too be so much more.

Posted by: Will | October 13, 2007 10:54 PM

Just like Iraq as far as the Post is concerned.

"We" are the bad guys and "they" are the downtrodden.

Posted by: | October 13, 2007 11:47 PM

I was impressed by the whining and sour grapes of the Texas coaches and some of the people who wrote in. It is so typical of Texas from my 14 years of having lived there. It is just like what the coaching staff at CISD was like. What a bunch of wusses!

In the first place, Monterrey is a modern city of over 6 million people. McAllen is a little town whose only function is to serve as a shopping mall for well-to-do Mexicans. Football is played a lot in Monterrey and the NFL results are always in the sports section of the local newspapers. In the state university, most of the different academic departments also have intramural teams which happens because there are lots of kids who play the game. As the article makes clear, the people who go to Tec are the elite.

For the whimpering about holding back students to play sports, they don't need to. They have enough good players. And besides, their American issued visas show how old they are. Are you going to claim the State Dept. is antiAmerican?!! And for the crying about how the Post is picking on the Americans, Please! The WaPo is giving O'Reilly and Limbaugh a run for their money for being the jingoist news outlet in the country.

Posted by: dkm | October 14, 2007 12:45 AM

The Post has excellent writers, but this is one of the best written stories I have ever read in the paper.

It is valuable to be reminded that we are not automatic winners just because we are Americans ...we have to work to win at football, or in business or geopolitics.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 12:53 AM

What a wonderfully written story about heroism and youth. Dreams need not be defined by borders or nationality. In addition, I was forced to think about my own misgivings and ill founded perceptions of others (i.e. Why do I so easily side against Juan Pablo Montoya for racing with the good ole' boys?) Thank you, Mr. Saslow. A feature well done.

Posted by: msullivan1984 | October 14, 2007 01:18 AM

American athletes have been known to drive to Mexico to buy steroids at the farmacias.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 02:03 AM

LMAO, they got their backsides handed to them by a bunch of nobodies from the south.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 02:49 AM

Sorry but I missed the demonization of the US in this story. This is a story of underdogs who triumphed. If these were two American teams i'm sure none of you would have any issues with this story.
Please get off this board and get back to Faux News or the Pill Popping Fat Lard.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 03:19 AM

Who cares about some Mexican football team? I am 100 percent certain that THE POST is pro-Mexican everything. We got homeless vets and senior citizens and they write about this junk.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 07:00 AM

Not why do we compete but why do we care about mexican football, stop trying to jam the globilization crap down our throats. I was happy with America the way it once was.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:04 AM

I think playing football, regardless of who wins or loses, is great fun, and it was good to see the sportsmanship on both sides.

But take a look at this, and tell me if this is a good example of sportsmanship?

http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/bankofamerica.asp

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:16 AM

I'm not sure that I understand why they were playing a team from Mexico. Don't schools usually play local rivals?

The Mexicans won. Yay. I love to read stories about American teams losing to Mexicans. It is so heartwarming-sort of gives me that old We Are the World feeling, yano???

And I can certainly see why it is a national news story. Yup. This is important stuff!!! Anytime that Americans lose, it must not only be reported, but highlighted. Ooooh, and the author of this important piece of literature will be on hand to answer questions!!!! Wheeeeee!!!

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:26 AM

Mention the Mexicans and out come the racists posters. This is a great story of cultural interaction which, of course, goes unappreciated by the redneck Christian extremists who unfortunately now represent America not only in the Texas but the rest of the country as well. I am a white American living in Mexico and I will stay here until America is no longer a theocracy under these racists.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:53 AM

More hispandering by WaPo. Hardly a week goes by, without some latino feel-good story. Message to WaPo editors: Nobody cares! In fact, it pisses your readers off seeing the preeminent defacto national newspaper wasting space and trying to advance its flagrant pro-open-borders agenda. Oops, I just vomited a little in my mouth.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:56 AM

This article is an outrage. I can't believe the Post would dare run something where America loses and some third rate country beats us at our own game. Surely the Mexicans had to be cheating, there is no other explanation. My US-centric, we are the best at everything view of the world has been shaken.

Please stop writing these kinds of articles. I don't want to read about how different cultures can learn from each other, share common values of hard work, and compete in the international language of athletic excellence.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 09:02 AM

This story conveniently omitted the fact that most of the McAllen players are Mexican-American.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 09:15 AM

Viva Mexico!

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 09:28 AM

I am quite proud to be a Texan and an American but I don't see anything explicitely negative about my state in this article. I thought it was a beautiful story about the drive and energy young people have. I wish the author could have seen the positive side of small town Texas. I don't expect that from an East Coast writer but I'm not angry about it. I think the bigger issue in this article is the globalization of sports. My nephew plays rugby in Oklahoma and here in England where I'm at school people watched the Super Bowl. If we share each others sports we share something greater than just games.

Posted by: Josh Cole | October 14, 2007 09:44 AM

A great story about a great group of kids who can feel proud about themselves. As opposed to the xenophobes whose comments show how egocentric and ignorant so many Americans are, this story helps us see how competition can breed respect for those who are different from us and misunderstood. I suggest the narrow-minded haters go back to their comfy little T.V. land where they can pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 09:48 AM

Fantastic article!

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 09:59 AM

Whoa. This story really brought out the partisans. I saw it as a David and Goliath story where the underdog (recall U.S. vs. Russia Olympic hockey) works hard and wins. Great. A lesson for everyone. It's good for the mighty USA to get its butt kicked once in a while. Why do some people think world domination is our birthright?

Posted by: chuck Husak | October 14, 2007 10:02 AM

I loved the article, but after living and teaching in South Texas I have an issue with the idea of underdogs beating McAllen. The students in McAllen are largely low-income, Mexican immigrants. McAllen public schools are not extremely well funded. It's great that they have a new football field, but the McAllen students aren't having meals fed to them by their parents paid helpers.

In my mind, this is a story of a rich prep school (regardless of nation of origin) coming to beat up on a low-income school. The low-income school stands up when it plays it's peers, but can't match the recruiting and wealth of the prep school.

Sorry, no David and Goliath here.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 10:23 AM

The really funny thing here is that McALLEN, Texas is like 80% Hispanic and 17% White. The haters naturally assume it's the other way around. Maybe Texas is in reality still a part of Mexico!

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 10:26 AM

This is an excellent piece of writing, and this is what makes a great national news paper. I love the depth and insight it gave me about American football in Mexico. At the end, it really didn't matter which team won. It was just good journalism.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 10:37 AM

Nice layout!

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:05 AM

This beautifully written story is like a Matt Christopher book for adults. For those who don't have kids, and especially ten-year-old boys, Matt Christopher has written superb sports fiction for decades. In Christopher's books there is always a game with a chapter of play-by-play, but there's much more. Because sports is really about people there's also always an underlying social story, like a the kid from a broken family, whose poor mom never comes to a game, working hard and finding his redemption in sports. I suppose you can read this piece in the Post at several levels -- I enjoyed it most as a piece of literature with a splendid story, characters, settings, and conflict.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:19 AM

It was a well-written piece, but to echo the thoughts of a poster earlier:

I am also familiar with both Monterrey and McAllen, and in fact, the Prepa TEC is one of the most privileged schools in all of Mexico, not only in Nuevo Leon. It would be tough to say they are underdogs, when most likely every player on the team comes from the sliver of immense wealth that is concentrated in the one district of Monterrey that is considered the wealthiest municipality in all of Mexico.

As for whole cultural exchange aspect, it is interesting to note that McAllen is arguably far more culturally Mexican than Monterrey, a city obsessed with Americana.

Otherwise, it was well composed narrative journalism.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:34 AM

I'm always amazed when some so called "patriotic americans" react to a story such as this with such xenophobic zeal that I think they forget the very notion that the United States is made of of citizens whose ancestors crossed the "border" in search of better lives at some point in time. This is a story about mutual cultural understanding.

Posted by: NM | October 14, 2007 11:42 AM

Thank you for doing a story that represents life in the Borderlands where folks from McAllen and Monterrey have more in common with each other than with the knuckleheads in Washington DC who make policy. The reality of Tex-Mex culture such as this gets lost when so-called "leaders" such as Tancredo hog the megaphone. There's a reason why there's a "No Border Wall" banner in front of McAllen Chamber of Commerce, just as there's a reason that the most popular sports team in Monterrey besides the Sultans and the soccer club is Los Vaqueros de Dallas. Erasing a way of life that existed before there was a United States or a Mexico with punitive laws weakens our border rather than strengthens it. If you can't win the hearts and minds of the locals, you've lost the war. Just ask the Iraqis.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 12:03 PM

I'm sure this is a pretty good football team (Prepa Tec Borregos) but if they're the best in Mexico they should try to play the best in TX. I'm sure it would be a blowout victory for the TX team.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 12:19 PM

I thought the spelling was Tech not Tec.

Virginia Tec, Georgia Tec

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 12:44 PM

As I said in my Posting earlier, McAllen, is not the team in the Valley to beat!

Try playing Donna, or their neighbor Weslaco!

For Teams from TINY towns, THEY are exeptional.

THEN, if you want to have your FREAKING Minds blown, Go to an even SMALLER Town-Roma, and Check out a Stadium most colleges could dream of!

I do appreciate the "Heads Up" about the FACT that the Mexican Team is a very Wealthy Prepatory!-Scholarships?

Posted by: RAT-The | October 14, 2007 12:50 PM

Maybe I am just dumb, but I do not quite make the connection between a Mexican football team, all of whose members seem to hold US tourist visas; none of whom work in the US, and the immigration debate.

I do feel that as long as we waste our time on anti-Mexican rhetoric, nothing will change with the illegal alien problem. If we directed this venemous rhetoric at the traitorous American Citizens who HIRE illegals, we might accomplish something.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:17 PM

To the posters who raised the excellent point Prepa Tec (as in Tecnologico; in Spanish, there's no H in Tec) is a prep school and Mc Hi is a public school, do know that more people from Monterrey own condos in South Padre Island, Texas than people from McAllen.
There are far more ricos in Monterrey than in the Rio Grande Valley. Despite the Rio Grande being an international boundary, it's all pretty much the same region. And yes, the Donna Indians would likely kick Prep's ass. Then again, Valley teams usually get their asses kicked by San Antonio or Corpus schools in the playoffs.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:23 PM

Congratulations again to the Washington Post for digging up a story about Mexicans (or any Latinos for that matter) being triumphant over Americans. Whether its a local or national story, no one does it better than you.

Posted by: Alexandria | October 14, 2007 01:25 PM

A wonderful article because it also elicited all we need to know about the misplaced values and knee-jerk prejudices of the 28% of the responding crybabies and whiners who just can't stand the fact that a Mexican team waxed a south Texas team.

Supposedly in the know basketball fans used to think our country was untouchable in that sport. We haven't won a world basketball championship in this century, the NBA is loaded with foreigners, and Latinos make up an increasingly percentage of professional baseball players.

Whine away, losers, that always builds a winner--at least it does in your book.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:29 PM

Just give Texas to the Mexicans and keep them out of the rest of the country.

It doesn't improve the U.S. to add Mexicans, bur rather lowers standards and quality.

We all prosper best when not forced into conflict with groups who are different from us.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:37 PM

RE: " a Mexican team waxed a south Texas team." Actually it was a wealthy, privileged team of Mexican nationals that "waxed" a team of mostly poor, Mexican-Americans.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:39 PM

The rich Mexicans from Nuevo Leon beat up on the poor Mexicans from Texas.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 01:59 PM

This article is about the underdog. But it is also about the arrogance of Americans, and how we are blinded by this arrogance. It is only a matter of time until this arrogance leads to bigger losses,

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 02:55 PM

I played football in Arizona. Alot of my team mates were Mexicans (in black) and we had some ballers. A lot of them brothers had heart. It makes me sick to my stomach when I read all of this anti-hispanic rhetoric. Mexicans are as varied as anybody else. There are people of Mexican ancestry that have been in Arizona for 400 years. A dude from the Midwest will come down there and look at every Hispanic like a illegal alien who just got there yesterday. They don't care what the persons history is all they see is brown skin and view them as an outsider.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 03:13 PM

Excellent article, football (American) has been a popular sport for many decades in Mexico. I stared playing football when I was seven years old for the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico). Later, I played for the Prepa Tec Borregos in Mazatlan where there were only three local teams and the entire team was made of no more than 25 players. I am glad that football has become a part of the Mexican culture and that both countries have something else to share in common. I hope to see more articles such as this one.

Enrique

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 04:52 PM

Maybe most of the team was Mexican American but,like me, born and reared in the US of A and that makes us AMERICANS. Oh, and the coach? What flavor was the coach, and shouldn't he be earning his $85K salary while the REAL teachers are making $25K? Poor as the town is, you'd think their taxes could go to bettering education rather than having a fancy football stadium.

Most every gringo Texan still remembers the Alamo, their first defeat by Mexico, and this is the REAL reason they don't want to know how this story, and perhaps this century, will end.

La Paloma de paz

Posted by: Paloma | October 14, 2007 05:05 PM

Write stories about America - //ji

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 06:09 PM

You write:

Players for the Prepa Tec Borregos... marveled at what they called "un gran palacio," a great palace.

How about you hire some journalists who have enough competence (or integrity) to translate people's words correctly. That way, you won't make the subjects of your articles look like idiots when they are not.

For the record, the English language equivalent of "un gran palacio" is a huge stadium in the context in which it was spoken.

How about you do a little better with your reporting next time, huh?

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 06:18 PM

In several states in the USA, private prep schools, like Prepa Tec, are required to to "play up" in higher classes than public schools of the same size, because of their ability to recruit from a wide area, and offer scholarships.

I agree, McAllen is the underdog here. And yes, most south Texans are Tejanos, ethnic Hispanics.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 07:14 PM

The article and many posters' reactions are amusing if you know some facts about McAllen and Monterrey. Monterrey is the business capital of Mexico and the whitest city in Mexico (do any of those "mexican" players look like they have much indian ancestry)? It sounds like Prepa Tec is the home of the children of the Mexican elite -- no doubt with promising middle class athletes given scholarships to beef up the program. McAllen is the heavily hispanic town peopled by lower and middle income mestizo hispanic immigrants in one of the poorest parts of the US.

This IS a David and Goliath story -- except one could argue that McAllen is the David. For the many Washington Post readers who have never played a contact sport, imagine Oxford vs. Appalachia in crew.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 07:29 PM

As a hispanic texan, here is my proposed title for this article:

"ultra elite white mexicans defeat poor and middle class mestizo mexican americans, whose ancestors were essentially driven out of mexico by poverty created by the third world 'el pueblo' rhetoric of the parents of these children."

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 07:44 PM

Shouldn't football be just about football, not about politics and nationalism? Hurray for the winners, whichever their origin might be.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:41 PM

most of the readers here may not realize, but Monterey area has a population of over 3Million. When you pulling players from an area of that size, you are very likely to get a lot of very good athletes. They are playing small schools in Texas (I didn't see any mentions of schools from Dallas/FW or Houston. Of course, they can be expected to be very competitive. The point of the article is to change expectations.

Just think how well a top club soccer team from LA would compete with a high school team from a small mexican town??

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 08:52 PM

When I started reading the story, my take was that writer's bias championed the classic - and good, I think - value of rooting for the underdog. By the end of the story, and especially having read some opinions expressed above, it's clear the Monterey team were not underdogs, they were an unknown who came in and ripped up the hosts.

If you want to put larger meaning to this story at all, I think it is something like this: American openness, American largess - and yes, enabled by American arrogance - allowed yet another American humiliation. This country's ruin could be in the offing because of the above. Should we rewrite the underdog story, put in another plot? Personally, I don't know.

But, hey, it was a football game. The home team lost. Sad. Still, nothing very bad happened. The Monterey team came to play, and on that day they deserved to win. What the heck, congrats to them.

Posted by: J Cox | October 14, 2007 09:03 PM

Having lived in McAllen, worked in Mexico, and frequently visited Monterrey for several years, I have to agree with some of the comments concerning the socioeconomic status of the Prepa Tec players. The prep school and university are the finest in Mexico and easily match the best here in the US.

The lower Rio Grande Valley is among the poorer regions of the US with over 3/4 of the local population being Mexican American or Mexicans living in the US. Spanish is as common in everyday life as English. The majority of the McAllen High students live in a less than affluent situation. HS football is the biggest event in the "Valley" thus the huge stadium which is shared by more than one McAllen Independent School District high school. Local football rivalries are taken seriously.

In this context it's difficult to decide who is the David and who is the Goliath. One thing is for sure: The boarder does not stop at the Rio Grande. The two societies are so intertwined that the border would be almost invisible were it not for the minimal and dilapidated infrastructure between the Hidalgo border crossing and the almost empty toll road leading to Monterrey.

My time in "the Valley" taught me many things but most importantly to never underestimate what a determined and hard working person (Hispanic or Anglo) can accomplish if he/she is willing to work hard to overcome adversity instead of playing the victim.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:13 PM

It's true: these are elite kids playing against not so elite kids, some, perhaps most, being the sons of poor mexican immigrants. It's also true that it's just a great story. Great stories don't have colors and don't have to prove anything to anyone. And thank jesus there are still journos and media out there who won't PANDER to the ignorant. I'm American and don't feel the need to embarass, demoralize, conquer or talk down to the poor people of color of the world. For left and right alike, this story shows that the US has to get its sh@# together
to compete globally. So we're not invincible -- and guess what, we're not the most powerful for much longer anymore either. . .Thank god, maybe we'll learn some darn humility and cooperation.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:16 PM

Good article. I live in Mexico, and I work here. Many years ago, as a student in Chicago, I interviewed the leader of the US Nazis. The commentary I received for my article I see repeated in many of the posts about this article.

I played football at an elite school in the northeast, and from time to time we got our butts kicked. One time I remember it was from a bunch of well heeled Quakers from Philly.

I have always loved football as much as I have hated the racism it engenders, but I have to say sometimes they go hand in hand.

Posted by: | October 14, 2007 11:28 PM

Why does the Washington Post hate America?

*snark*

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 12:15 AM

Putos todos.

Posted by: Betini | October 15, 2007 12:17 AM

Well, well, more educational journalism from the Times... The valley is one of the poorest geographical areas in the nation, the high school dropout rate is about 43%, some 90% of valley residents are of Mexican decent--first or second generation--and live in constant search of their identity. If they go north, Bill O'Reilly calls them sons of wetbacks, if they go south over the border they're poor gringos wannabes.

The title of this story should be: "Rich Mexican kids remind poor Mexican-American kids that their parents could never escape the realm of being poor" Or what about "I'm rich biotch, I need no stinking work permit."

Perhaps we should be sympathetic because rich Mexican kids rode in a bus with no air conditioning and they had to go through US customs--what a humiliation. I bet this story is a dream come true for the Monterey Chamber of Commerce.

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 09:27 AM

Despite the disparities in socio-economic status of the members of the two teams, a couple of things jumped out at me after reading this article:

The U.S. has become a great equalizer for people of mexican descent. They wouldn't be caught dead interacting in Mexico, but now the elites shed blood, sweat, and tears with their "Naco" brethren on the fields of South Texas.

The lines between the two countries are increasingly blurred. Monterrey is often referred to as the most "American" of Mexican cities, because its people have adopted many "American" traits and customs. For all of those in the anti-immigrant movement that call for defense of our "nation" from the "invasion" of foreign "illegals" (which is just code for Mexicans, who are all assumed to be illegal), this is illustrative of the reality of the blending of cultures that goes both ways. Like the kid in the article said, Mexicans don't ride donkeys any more, they shop at the mall too.

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 01:07 PM

People; don´t miss the whole point of this article, which is: "Globalization is a reality whether we like it or not". All those ultranationalist Americans or Mexicans might as well ride along into the new world order or stay behind remembering the "good old days".
This is just the world youth competing at a sport.

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 01:28 PM

This article is primarily about irony. The story is definitely of the David vs Goliath type, but the roles of David and Goliath keep shifting, making for one level of irony. Here are these two schools, one rich, one poor, located in two countries, one poor one rich. The rich school from the poor country has to deal with no air conditioning and the idiotic bureaucracy of borders. The poor school from the rich country enjoys ridiculous luxuries and accommodations. The underdog wins in the end, or does he?

All in all, a wonderful piece; informative, entertaining, thought provoking. This is why the world still needs newspapers.

A word to the "God Bless America" crowd, not everything is about us vs them. Chill out already.

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 03:48 PM

most of the readers here may not realize, but Monterey area has a population of over 3Million. When you pulling players from an area of that size, you are very likely to get a lot of very good athletes. They are playing small schools in Texas (I didn't see any mentions of schools from Dallas/FW or Houston. Of course, they can be expected to be very competitive. The point of the article is to change expectations.

Just think how well a top club soccer team from LA would compete with a high school team from a small mexican town??

YOU ARE AN IDIOT....

Even there is a lot of population... everybodyy plays soccer... not that much of persons play Football, is just minority

and play with a normal team in soccer and they will give you fight.... Borregos is a very good football team

Posted by: | October 15, 2007 11:26 PM

This is not a story about talent winning out. You have a rich elite team from Mexico that draws the best players from the entire province vs. one high school team that has attendance boundaries to deal with and has just graduated the bulk of their experienced players. Do you think an all-star soccer team from texas wouldn't destroy one public high school team from Matamoros?

Posted by: | October 16, 2007 11:01 AM

The majority of the blogger's missed the point of the story. Obviously, there is a lot of ignorance, lack of understanding amongst americans. It is unfortunate that these are people that went through school but did not learn anything other than to hate themselves and others. There is no intellectual exchanges here other than pejorative commentaries and this is a tapestry of a national sickness.

Posted by: | October 16, 2007 01:53 PM

Great article! Quite informative and entertaining.

Posted by: | October 16, 2007 01:57 PM

This author made the decision to slant this article despite the facts. Somehow the elite prep school couldn't afford a bus with working AC? While the school had been playing Texas teams for years, we get the picture of how disoriented and surprised they are at the noise and fanfare of a high school football stadium (shared by several schools). As if these rich kids had never been to a professional soccer game in Mexico which would be held in a stadium five times as large and be heck of a lot noisier. Were the McAllen kids surprised to see that the Mexican team looked like a bunch of white kids? How about the Tec kids? Were they surprised to see brown faces lined up against them? All that crap about trash talking in Spanish then switching to English looks quite stupid when you are playing a bunch of kids with Mexican heritage. By the way, the author's comment dismissing steroids due to seeing an "insane weightlifting session" should know that steroids don't give you muscle, they enable you to conduct "insane weightlifting sessions" that get you bulked up.

Posted by: | October 16, 2007 03:51 PM

The author is to be blamed of the same thing he is trying to expose: misperceptions.

"Un gran palacio", you should see the "Arena Monterrey" we have here, just google it, do you have access to internet?

Bus without air conditioning?..... no comments

By the way, in the David and Golliat analogy, it does not matter what team is the rich one. The point is.......

Nobody plays american football in this country. This is a soccer country, only some private schools play it, and the student base from which they can pull a team is very small.
So no matter the economic status of this highschool, they are still the underdogs.

Middle class guy from Monterrey

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 07:25 AM

It is funny to see the parochial naivete of some of those who wrote their reaction.
They show deep ignorance and prejudice about a foreign nation. Even the writer shows inaccuracies in his narrative that are intriguing for mexican readers.
That is not strange because such cultural attitude is as american as Mickey Mouse. Typical of the people of a nation that was convinced that their soldiers were going to be received under a rain of roses after deposing Saddam.
Just to answer someone concerned about the spelling of "Tec": In spanish, the language spoken to the South of your border, Tec stands for the first three letters of the word "Tecnológico". "Prepa Tec" is the "Escuela Preparatoria del Tecnológico de Monterrey", a name too long to say.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 11:09 AM

BO-RRE-GOS, BO-RRE-GOS, BO-RRE-GOS!!!!!!!!

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 11:27 AM

""Do you think an all-star soccer team from texas wouldn't destroy one public high school team from Matamoros?""

All Star would destroy Matamoros. As Houston/San Antonio would destroy Prepa Tec.I do think however, that Prepa Tec WOULD have winning seasons in a Texas state league after 4 or 5 years of competing in it. If they do that, then THATs a sports story, this one is a cultural story in which there are no real reference points other than what happened in that single game.

Its a great story. But it should have made an effort to put things in perspective, the Prepa tec may actually win most games against the valley teams, but it still proves nothing. Other than the fact that the undisputably top team in Mexico could "do well" in the valley league. I think anyone should be happy with that.

About the bus story, here is a theory I am 99% sure of: Fill a bus with 50 teenagers who average 200lbs and had bbq burritos for breakfast, and sooner or later a window is going to have to be opened, then the A/C will be lost, and thus another window will be opened, creating a domino effect. So its not the writer's or Tec's fault, its the burritos.

I am from Monterrey and I feel proud for our boys, good job, Tec.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 11:38 AM

I forgot to mention... if someone still thinks Tec players could be forging Visas then that person has no idea how impossible that is for two reasons:

1)The US Inmigration procedures.

2)The impossibility of one of the most prestigious and serious schools in Mexico to risk having a age-cheating international scandal.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 11:45 AM

I am not sure what was more entertaining: the story or the posted comments.

The power of words in an article to inspire such varied responses is amazing. Each response is a self-contained expression of the author's perspectives and convictions.

Keep posting.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 12:08 PM

just for the record.. Prepa Tec already beat a team from san antonio

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 12:55 PM

The ITESM (Monterrey TecH) has the best football program in the nation (High School and college). Recruit people from all over México to play the game. Besides that, they educate them to become better people, with high standars, what is wrong with that? Dosen't American colleges gives scholarships to bring players to their teams? So, what is this all noise about?
Hope some other colleges follow the example for the benefit of the sport and the alumni.
Leo.
Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 02:01 PM

It is never nice to lose, but I think after reading some of these comments we all lose. If you call yourself Christian, why don't you ask God to place you in the anglo-american line when you get to heaven, see what he says.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 03:43 PM

As a graduated and former football player from TEC de Monterrey Borregos (Monterrey Tech) I can assure you, that the school has the best Football program in the entire country, in all its divisions or levels. Is not a 3 year program. The entire school has a very serious commitment about excellence at all levels (academic, sports, etc).

It's true, we are very far from a NCAA Div I level, or some elite US high school. But these games are an example for americans, that we are not those tiny, skinny guys, using sombreros and riding in burros. This improvement in Football shows that this sport is growing at a fantastic rate in Mexico as well as its culture.

Congrats, great article.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 07:28 PM

¡¡Viva México!!

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 08:49 PM

As many people here says: SOCCER is the number one sport in Mexico and Monterrey. FOOTBALL is a long, very distant second place. Here in Monterrey, football is not a new sport, but, even if the Prepa Tec guys are the wealthiest people in town, WE DON´T HAVE THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM AND GOVERMENT AID that most of the schools in Texas got year by year. And of course, Prepa Tec does not have the kind of good competitors any team from the Valley has. THAT IS WHY WE WANT TO COMPETE WITH USA TEAMS. DOES NOT MATTER IF WE WIN OR NOT. We just want to play some football.

AND PLEASE, good citizens from USA, THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF INMIGRATION. DON´T BE RIDICULOUS AND GET TO EXCITED. In Monterrey we have great respect of the US, we know that many of the teams from Dallas would kick our asses good, but anyways, we will try. WE DOES NOT WANT TO HUMILIATE ANYBODY, WE WANT TO LEARN FROM YOU AND YOUR SPORT´S CULTURE.

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 09:35 PM

Another great sports FICTION story - next time, the author should stick to facts, and watch/attend the same game i did in McAllen. By the way, the stadium is over 30years old; the artificial turf is 2 seasons old (three high schools playing football/soccer each week can put some wear and tear on a grass field) - and that non-A/C bus, .. give me a break; we're talking land-yachts here...

Posted by: | October 17, 2007 11:13 PM

I think it would be enlightening for many of the posters to google Aztec Bowl, this is the college end of season game played in Mexico since 1947 I believe, usually against Division III US Universities.

During the last eight or nine seasons, the ONEFA (Mexican College League) has been playing an All American Division III team, drafted from over more than a hundred US colleges, and the scores have been largely in favor of the USA team, but in more then three or four times only by one point, and as I recall, a couple of years ago the Mexican All Stars BEAT the American team in Cancun.

Also at the Global Junior Championship, the Mexican under 18 teams has WON two times the trophy, and has given the US Teams and others always a run for their money, so this is old news.

And the Mexican team only draft from less than 20 universities competing in the College Major League.

Most Mexican High Schools have football teams, and really the main difference is size, Mexican players start at age 7 all the way to college, and in the defunct NFL Europe, last years over 10 pro players were Mexican drafted from ONEFA.

Tec de Monterrey is indeed the dominant factor, but American Football has been played in Mexico for more than a hundred years, and a "Clasico" between the National University and the National Polytechnic Institute draw crowds of more than ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND spectators, at the UNAM stadium, and is broadcasted in national TV, it has been played a number of times at the Aztec Stadium, and is an annual event played since 1937.

The fact that American culture is so self absorbed and generally ignorant of what happens in the outside world is predictable, but not excusable.

Ignorance never is!

Federico

México D.F.

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 12:38 AM

The "Clasico" UNAM vs IPN will be played this Sunday.

Check the trailer in a national circulation newspaper for the UNAM Pumas.

http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/noticias.html

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 07:40 AM

Who cares who the WINNER or loser was at this game. Don't care too much about this article, you need to come down and watch Friday night football in the Valley.I am sure everyone out in the stands, home, work...etc.do not feel the beating that these kids go through! again try getting on that field and getting a good beating! these kids play as hard as they can, get their wind knocked out of them, sprains, bruises... they get tired! no one likes to lose but that is part of the game!

GO BULLDOGS!!!!

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 09:43 AM

This is just an attempt to get their overgrown "high school" age (yea right) players known in our country. I was at the game the crowd may have lowered the cheering but no the cheerleaders did not pack up and some left early but not all. Alot of us heard their coach say, before they loaded their charter buses with airconditioning, in spanish, "great win, now lets go show support to our high school team" they were playing a local jv. team.
go figure.
Monterrey Cheat-ers

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 12:34 PM

Most of these kids from Monterrey will never need to work in the United States, and their families already own houses in San Antonio, South Padre Island etc.

Im sick an tired of "Americans" thinking USA dominates all sports that they "invented".
Try baseball (knockoff of cricket) or Basketball.

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 06:15 PM

They do play good football I have seen them. They do play at a high level in high school but 4 years ago they lost to Eagle Pass Texas team. How come they do not play Odessa, or south lake dragons. I like the article but play real teams from texas not the Corpus teams. Dallas Carter would be good match up

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 09:14 PM

"Alot of us heard their coach say, before they loaded their charter buses with airconditioning, in spanish, "great win, now lets go show support to our high school team" they were playing a local jv. team." Maybe this was just irony, you know, im a Tec student and we get drugs test 2 times a year, so no steroids involved, its just jeallusy that drives you to say such things. We won, you lost, get used to it, thats american future.

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 09:17 PM

Well well, Its indeed insulting that those redneck believe we are cheating when our guy in Monterrey play hard and train hard, as a former member of the college football programs of Borregos it's crazy to think they picked a bus without AC, maybe it broke down somehow down the road, because we at the college program traveled to all of our away games by airplane.

The Monterrey Tec sports plan in to always be the best at any sport, we have also won 15 times the university basketball national league, and our teams of baseball, soccer and indor soccer are among the 3 best in the country, we prepared hard year around. By the way, the head of the football program Frank Gonzalez was a player and champion for monterrey tech and now drives the best football program on the country along with the Monterrey Tec Campus in the State of Mexico(near Mexico city) Monterrey has 26 different campuses in Mexico and 7 of them have heavy football programs. Still our coaches at Monterrey go to clinics every years with top NCAA Division I univeristies and Frank Gonzalez and some of his coaching staff go and participate as gest coaches during the preseasson games for NFL teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles. He's winning mentality has lead him to receive the oportunity and responsability of conducting not only the football team but also be the director of the whole sports department at Monterrey Tec. We are talking about the guy once sat on 3 national championships on the division 2 in Mexico (coaching monterrey tec) and refusing to enter to Division 1 (what we call the BIG TEN) right he earned because of winning the cahmpionship, becasue the team is not ready for that level, he brought up the team when it was the right time to be in the BIG TEN and has won 10 national championships out of 17 years of competition, all of them he drove our team to playoffs and 14 of them to the big game. Stop the crying and accept that people all over the world is preparing itself for sports, business, life and there is a big world outside the USA.

Vamos Borregos.

By the way the first Bowl ever played was in Monterrey MExico between 2 colleges from USA around the year 1900 or so.
How you like them apples ??.

Posted by: | October 18, 2007 09:42 PM

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 09:43 AM

If someone still thinks Tec players could be cheating about players age then that person has no idea how impossible that is for two reasons:

1)The US Inmigration procedures.

2)The impossibility of one of the most prestigious and serious schools in Mexico to risk having a age-cheating international scandal.

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 12:56 PM

Americans can't take a beating... If Americans beat Mexicans in soccer, we are better than them... If Mexicans beat Americans in football, Mexicans are cheaters.. Can't you see that McHi was playing one of the best education institution in Mexico and Latin America... Of course they are good in football because they are mostly wealthy kids who trained in American football camps... I bet Prepa Tech students students have more money than the whole McHi coaching staff put together... They are using football as an excuse to promote racism and discrimination among cultures.. and I don't blame the whites, I blame the Hispanics who have more hatred against Mexican nationals than the whites have... They have surnames such as Garza and Gonzalez and hide their culture by saying "I don't speak Spanish"... That is just sad... and by the way, Monterrey natives help maintain the Rio Grande Valley economy and Sharyland, Texas is just an example....

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 01:57 PM

Muy buen reportaje, Lo felicito!!

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 03:06 PM

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
BULLDOGS YOU DID GOOD!!! WE KNOW THE TRUTH.

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 04:42 PM

I see this and it is a shame that this happen that we think that this school had older players they did what they had to do a win is a win. I will tell you this much I have found out that schools from div 3 do not want to play the college team of Monterrey and to be quit honest this looks like they are scared to play tec at the college level becuase they can loose the job and to loose to Mexico looks bad in the USA country football. The guys come out in ESPN 2 Mexico they do have good fan base and just to add something how come no one said about the game that Tec college team beat that Team USA 2 months ago this just shows how good is Tec they are who they are...........

Posted by: | October 19, 2007 08:20 PM

The article is well written. I wonder where he got his education?
Would it have been this glorius if the McAllen team had won?
I think the comments are funny!

Posted by: | October 20, 2007 12:25 PM

Coaches are paid to prepare their players for their next opponent; especially here in TEXAS. We tell are athletes that regardless of the opponent we must not fear them, but respect them! Coach TONY HARRIS verbally & in written form agreed to play LA PREPA TEC knowing full well that the athletes from Monterrey were of age limit. Most coaches from "The Valley" who agree to play a team from Mexico have a ready response for the media, their administration, their colleagues, & for their athlete's parents: If they beat the team from Mexico, the teams from Mexico are way behind in knowledge, skills, & coaching; but if the team from Mexico beats them they accuse the coaches & the teams from Mexico of using over aged kids. A coach is supposed to prepare his team to play any opponent; regardless of who it is because the game of FOOTBALL is The Game of LIFE. A Coach is supposed to be fearless & should demonstarte that to his athletes & not hide behind the skirts of ignorance & doubt. Coach Harris you have a contract to prepare your athletes to play your next opponent & you also signed a contract with La Prepa TEC to play them. Why did you tell the media that you were playing Monterrey TECH (THE College)knowing full well who you were scheduled to play? Do you remember Rolando Cantu( Born in Monterrey) who you coached in High School; & who later played at Monterrey TECH & who played two seasons for The Arizona Cardinals? Why don't you call him and ask him about the team from la Prepa TEC to see if they are legitimate? A simple call will answer this question as opposed to most of the offensive calls that you make during the course of most games!! BULLDOG PRIDE Forever? or Minnesota Gophers forever? !!!
Arturo ex Monterrey Tech player & current teacher in The Valley!!

Posted by: Arturo! Ex Monterrey TECH Player & current teacher in The Valley | October 22, 2007 12:02 AM

i still did not capyure that and i am in year 5 in 2007 ok no one will make me to read

Posted by: | October 22, 2007 06:49 AM

WHAT?

Posted by: | October 24, 2007 09:27 AM

One Mexican prep school with a solid football program worth mentioning is Academia Juarez of Colonia Juarez; hub of the Mormon farm belt in northwest Chihuahua state. Unlike Monterrey, it's in a small ag town located about 100 miles southwest of Columbus, NM. La Academia has played American high schools for decades and usually fields competetive teams. They schedule most of their games against small town high schools from SE Arizona, SW New Mexico, and far West Texas.

Posted by: Pablo | October 24, 2007 04:00 PM

What happened to "good sportsmanship"? So you got beat, get over it. I'm from West Texas where the high schools have more talent than all the teams in South Texas, yet we lost to teams from Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. A game has rules and if you get beaten whithin the limits of the rules, you have to have "good sportsmanship" and congradulate the winner and look forward to next year's match. Stop whinning, you're only teaching young adults to blame others instead of being responsible...you're teaching them to be "sore loosers", which then becomes just plain...."LOOSERS" or as they say in Mexico "LUZERS". Anyway, yes I'm a Mexican American born in the US whom recalls that most of my teammates were in the upper social economic portion of society, we were not poor, we were the elite ($$$) of our communities. Just stop it with all the nonsense and bull, it's you negative finger pointing people who ruin our communities and economies. Raise your children to be resposible honest adults whom can accept it when someone else is better and to learn from those who beat you. Otherwise, your boys will grow up to be "chismosas" y "lloronas" and worse, brown nosers! Accept that you are not the best, there's not one program here in the valley that has made it to the final four of the Texas High School playoffs in 10 consecutive years, not even once. In conclusion, they never will until you teach them to learn from teams that beat them....and when coaches start composing new games plans every week and become less predictable. Advise to local coaches, allow each of your assistant coaches to design the game plan every week, then you will become unpredictable and be a great team. Men, behave like men and teach your boys to become men, not "chismosas" (gossipers) for those of you who don't speak Spanish. Y para los Mejicanos, disculpen a todos estos hombres que no saben perder, los felicito y sigan adelante con sus programas de futbol americanos. Communiquensen con las escuelas de El Paso, TX. y Las Cruces, NM para que juegen con programas de jovenes que logran ser hombres y caballeros en el futuro que saben felicitar cuando pierden. Franklin, Coronado, Andress, Irvin, Chapin, Austin, Riverside, Montwood, Midland Lee y Odessa Permiam son las escuelas que les recomiendo. And yes, any of those schools would beat all the schools in the Valley, Corpus and San Antonio with their JV teams made up of 14, 15 and 16 year olds.

Posted by: | October 26, 2007 09:58 PM

This was a great article.
As i am a Puerto Rican and freshmen in a very Elite Virginian prepschool i can relate better than most in the context of this story.
I agree with many bloggers that this is no underdog stroy, just how football is commonly played in Mexico and how people think this is and underdog story. While the TExans are sothern nobody's, the Mexicans are the elite, and privelidged team. In this sense the Texans should be the Underdogs.
This is a great example of our country being friendly with another, something that needs to exist more in the US, even if it is through competition.
While the Texans were sore losers, the Mexicans seemed somewhat like sore winners.
They taunted their aponnents, and thought themselves somehow better, and though it is sad to know many Mexicans generalize us in a deragotory manner, it is also sad to hear relations are so intense.
It is perversion of sports to think that anything but winning or losing can be construed from a games results.
Either one wins or loses, anything else is irrelevant.
The two teams should have respected their duty to be ambassadors for their school, culture and country, and it seams that neither did very well.
Though the moral of the story is that when one is doubted or disrespected, one may overcome those obstacles and achieve great honor, and that when one is discrespectful to another, they will be put in their place, possibly by losing.

Posted by: | October 27, 2007 06:29 PM

Hi - so I just found this story today and laughed my head off. One of your featured players is my student; I am his English teacher. I recall now that he shared about winning "the classic" for show & tell several weeks ago. Although he is quite a trash talker and pretty good at English, I just can't imagine him saying some of those quotes in such perfect English. And it's too bad these kids don't like to read - he might have seen himself in national american news!

I have three boys who used to or currently play with the Borregos Football Americano team. They have been playing in local league teams since they were four years old. I don't know, but I imagine that could be the case with most of the Borregos.

Something also about the Prepa Tec team is that there are five campuses. The Prepas have a total of something like... I don't know, at least 7 or 8000 students, from which they pull the best players for the representative teams. Also, each campus has its own economic flavor - a few of them are indeed filled with the elite; my campus is generally known to be the middle class one. Yes, the Prepa Tec students tend to be wealthy, but nearly half our students are on some sort of scholarship. It is diverse though - we have students from families that own huge ranches, others who own small businesses, and still others who own their own companies.

Haha, it's true that most of our students do dress in foreign brands - plenty of American Eagle, Abercrombie and Hollister. But they get that over the border in dusty McAllen, where it's cheaper. Perhaps while away for a football game.

Posted by: | October 29, 2007 09:37 PM

the valley schools are not that good they always loose to metroplex teams play Taft of even the teams from el paso are good they have done great in the past you should play in UIL or something but this just a story that play big time schools the valley are not good and playoffs that team hardly goes to playoffs play the laredo teams as well Nixon is good United is good to

Posted by: | October 31, 2007 01:18 AM

wow...
that is great to hear... so if the metroplex of the valley..(remember mcallen, edinburg, la joya, brownsvile are split into 2 0r 3 high schools) made one elite high school football team...that would realisticly match up to your grand Monterrey Tech.. they would kick some major butt..thanks for clearing that up...YOU SHOULD DEFINETELY SET IT UP!

as far a mcallen being dusty.... haha!! your funny...
lets keep it real...ok. look outside your window, senior. thats right...keep ignoring your own poverty stricken country. i cant believe you brag about coming here...to buy our products..
Abercrombie..etc. are All American 100% brands HELLO!!
also, save your money use it to clean up your streets and government...

Posted by: | October 31, 2007 04:09 PM

I AGREE WITH THE PUERTO RICAN FRESHMAN FROM VIRGINIA.
VERY WELL PUT!!
1. A SORE WINNER WILL ALWAYS LOOKS WORSE THAN THE SORE LOSER.
2. RESPECT WAS NOT EVER SHOWN TO THE LOSING TEAM.
3. AMERICAN FOOTBALL JUST NEEDS TO CONTINUE PLAYING AMERICAN TEAMS.
4. MEXICO FOOTBALL NEEDS TO CONTINUE PLAYING MEXICAN TEAMS.
5. CONGRATULATIONS MONTERREY - THE WINNERS!
4. GO BULLDOGS! THE PLAYERS PLAYED THEIR HEARTS OUT...
5. THESE COMMENTS DON'T DO ANYONE JUSTICE.
6. YES, WEST TEXAS FOOTBALL IS GOOD.
7. CAN I SEND MY 10 YR OLD THERE FOR TRAINING?
GOD BLESS ALL.

Posted by: | October 31, 2007 04:28 PM

USA!!! U.S.A!! U.S.A!! U.S.A!!

Posted by: | November 1, 2007 04:18 PM

Come on this is not a pro latino or an anti american story, its not Texas Independence or Iraq war, It was just a football game of a bunch of kids of two difrent countries. I really like the story, congratulations Mr. Eli. Some of the comments made me LOL.

Posted by: | November 12, 2007 01:13 PM

first, monterrey is bigger than mcallen, and second prepa tec played in a biger stadium than the mcallen high scholl stadium

Posted by: | November 17, 2007 11:58 AM

Great article.
I'm glad some people actually take the time to read the whole text and understand the irony.
In reply to those who are saying that the Prepa Tec has a larger area from where to choose players. That's not really true. Those thirty players may be rich, but they are not the elite of American Football in Monterrey, they are pretty much some of the only American Football players in Monterrey (in their age group). If 2,000 students attend the McAllen HS, probably half of the boys there, say 500, want to play HS football (because of the benefits, tradition, caché, etc). If 2,000 go to the Prepa Tec, around 50 want to play American football, forty make it to the team, and 950 want to play soccer or other sport. There is not a scholarship program or anything. Recruitments are exceptions.
This is a story about football, with a twist. Of a bunch of Mexican rich kids that like to play a sport that, while popular on TV and the media, nobody really cares to play it competitively in High Schools in their country. The Americans were beaten at their game, and the McAllen coach knew it, thus his arrogance.
What I like, though, is that the writer managed to turn the story about football into a story about ironies, social problems between the countries, and everything seen from the perspective of some hard working kids (from both countries). It wouldn't have mattered if it was the Americans (or Mexican Americans from McAllen) who went and beat the rich high school that only cares about football when the team goes to play across the border. The cultural issues and the blurring of boundaries are always the same.
Congratulations and thank you, Eli Saslow, I enjoyed reading your article very much.

Posted by: | November 18, 2007 06:24 AM

It is incredible, the amount of different thinking and the different education levels from all participants.

I played football for many years, There are many factors that put flavour to the game and in most cases Coaches use these factors as motivation for the up coming game. Its either rich vs poor, west side vs east side, in this article MEX vs USA.

It is very hard not to get driven by these factors, which can drive us to rage, anger, and all types of feelings that we as an adults can not some times handle.

As a result your thoughts you take a side, I read comments such as Rich kids from Monterrey to poor McAllen kids.

I am sure that MC Allen High School Players did their best effort, I'm also sure that not every body in McAllen HS is Mexican-American and poor.

Furthermore, The Monterrey Tech players were highly motivated and also put their best effort into play, I can tell you for a fact that those kids that use and buy american brands and have Luois Vuitton wallets are a very low porcenage of the total population of the school, most of them consist in very hard working middleclass families that know tha value of a good education.

The fact is with in the football field you do not care if the guy in front of you is rich or poor, from the north or from the side, you just want to do your responsability, block, tackle, catch.

If the guy in front of you beat you, you train hard so it does not happend again, thats the fun of it!!!there is always an easy way out; Comments like we lost because there collage kids, we won becouse we are rich, they won because of steroids,
weather, you can blame God and even blame lady luck ones in a while.

No one likes to losse, especially those wo did not played, we should encurage more of these games, not for cultural interchange, just for the good of football, I'm sure both team got something good out it, for their next games.

As a final note, I wonder what would have happend if the Monterrey team had lost??

What would the title be??

Poor Mexicans from McAllen lost against Rich Monterrey's team!!

or

Proud US MCAllen HS beat Mexicos Monterrey Tech??

Posted by: | November 20, 2007 11:55 AM

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Posted by: | November 20, 2007 10:46 PM

Not a recommended reading.

Posted by: | November 26, 2007 09:49 AM

I´m proudly mexican, I live in the capital city of Mexico, I think is an interesting article that shows how Mexico and the United States share a long tradition in football.

But is necessary to make a point here, Prepa Tec (the mexican team) was no underdog, No Way! Prepa Tec has an incredible budget for football and they recruit players not only from Monterrey (a city of 6 million people), the recruit players from all over the country (Mexico).

Also, the football program of Prepa Tec and ITESM (Monterrey) has a long tradition in Mexico for stealing players from publics schools and also is well known that all their players are induced to use steroids since high school.

When the mexican football authorities planned to established an steroid control in the local league (ONEFA), Prepa Tec and ITESM Monterrey blackmailed the league with going to play in Texas, and the doping tests plan failed.

ITESM & Prepa Tec is the richiest wealthiest college in Mexico.

So, I agree that if we are going to see this as a David vs Goliat story, the Texas team was David.

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Posted by: | December 7, 2007 06:46 PM

I write the following as a 13 year old resident of Pharr Texas ALL my life(one of the small towns near the border and right next to McAllen Texas:

After reading this, i am happy to see that the teams from Mexico are finally having a chance to see how good they are. This proves that if they can beat the McAllen Bulldogs they could probably beat anybody. All this talk about how they are too old or held back is just people making excuses for why they lost to a more athletic group of people. Just accept that you lost and try to work harder for next year! Respect everybody that plays the game and if you say that your better then them, show it! The Borregos deserve the recognition they've received if not more!!! Teams like this should be recognized by ESPN and more big names besides the Wa.Po. Everybody deserves a chance for glory, especially if their accomplishments call for it...

G O B O R R E G O S !

Posted by: A.J. | January 1, 2008 10:09 PM

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