What’s with streamers being thrown at MLS soccer games?

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.

Paper streamers thrown at an MLS soccer match by zealous fans

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??

5 comments on “What’s with streamers being thrown at MLS soccer games?

  1. The only time I’ve ever thrown something on the playing surface, was my (brand new) hat, when Raymond Bourque of the Boston Bruins scored a hat trick to advance in the playoffs. (old format, less rounds, it meant a lot).
    Thousands of hats would hit the ice.
    All in good fun.
    Even the opposing players congratulated him.
    But you are right.
    There is a crowd ignorance that ruins the spirit of competing on the effort and skills alone.
    It is a poor example to our children.
    Then again, there are sexually oriented beer ads at early pm during the World Series, and Superbowl.
    But streamers in the goal keepers’ area are
    pathetic, and likely dangerous.
    And to your final paragraph;
    I serve on the local Little League board, and while it’s not Pros, I feel it’s actually more important to set a good example there.
    In that capacity, we’ve strengthened rules
    to eject players, coaches, and parents
    from the property, if they taunt, or interfere with the full performance of opposing players or coaches.
    Thanks for addressing this Dave.
    Always thoughtful!

  2. Don’t go to NFL games….
    Too many drunks. Too many foul mouths.
    I once took my youngest to see Dan Marino play against our local team when he was 10. He asked to leave at half time because he was scared by idiots in the stands.
    NHL games despite the hard hitting on the ice are actually much better. The crowds are more civil.

  3. Not condoning the behaviour in any way, but compared to soccer in the rest of the world, streamer throwing in the MLS is tame.
    Sad as it is, hooliganism is not uncommon and many people have died in soccer related violence in Europe and around the world. The MLS is tame by comparison.

  4. If you watched European games more regularly you will see flares and such being thrown onto the pitch (field). Sometimes they have to stop play for long periods of time.
    Be lucky MLS fans are throwing streamers and confetti. By the way, the referee will stop play if the fun ends up causing too much interference.
    I did enjoy your post and encourage you to continue in your passion for watching soccer, but try to understand that there is a long history of soccer culture that has many traditions that aren’t always filmed or shown on “TV.”
    Cheers 🙂

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