My son and I had a rare evening to ourselves tonight and flipped on Fox Soccer Channel to watch a US Major League Soccer (MLS) game between The New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake. The game was pretty good and the play was exciting but it’s the first time in watching a lot of soccer that I’ve ever seen streamers thrown on the playing field by fans and it sucked.
I’m not a hardcore fan of any sport or team though if I had to pick a sport, it’d be European soccer and specifically the World Cup (indeed, the single biggest sticker on my laptop is a World Cup 2010 South Africa sticker. Ask me to see it next time we meet up. it’s cool).
But I just don’t think I have what it takes to be a fan in these offensive and unpleasant modern times…
This is something I’ve watched for many years with growing discomfort and disgust. It’s one thing to cheer your team on, yell and sing team songs to get them fired up to win a game, and something entirely different to yell mean spirited, offensive and hostile things to the other team or players to distract or upset them and throw off their game.
I mean, I’ve been to sporting events where the fans were psycho, like a Raiders game in Oakland stadium (and as a random aside, years ago my buddy Rick and I were “this close” to running the Raiders web site, so close that they flew us to their old offices in Southern California and we met with Al Davis and his team. But, alas, that deal slipped through our eager fingers). Even those Raiders games were reasonably civil, and the Raiders fans are known as being particularly crude and boorish.
Still, modern fans, like the hundreds of basketball fans who wave streamers and other objects to try and trip up the other team’s players on free throws, seem to have taken fandom to fanaticism, to a point where it’s really offensive and detracts from the enjoyment of the game, let alone presents an unnecessary challenge and obstacle to the players.
My son G- (8yo) and I sat there watching the two teams play, and every time we’d have a camera angle that showed the sidelines, they were littered with streamers. Far, far worse, the goals were often covered in these paper streamers too, where they were clearly getting in the way of the keeper doing his job and stopping goals.
Of course, the goalie has no time to sweep them away, so both just suffered through and every so often an official from the sidelines would run through the box, grabbing as many of the streamers as possible. Just to have them replaced a few minutes later.
What I don’t get is what the heck are fans thinking? Is it really fun to have your team win by undermining the performance and play of the competing team? Is that what modern sportsmanship is all about now?
Blech. Give me the more respectful matches of the European and World Cups any day. In all the matches I have ever watched – and that’s quite a lot – I cannot recall seeing a single streamer or anything else thrown on the field during play.
Are you a sports fan? Do you try to undermine the competitor’s play? What’s your take on what these malicious fans are thinking as they do this sort of thing? I mean, is it fun to do that??