This guy eh?
First of all, let’s end this right here right now, there is more to American soccer, than MLS. Even so, MLS loves supporters groups because they market the hell out of them.
League rules aside, Essentially there is no difference between an MLS supporters group and USL or NPSL. To try to backtrack and say “well I just meant MLS groups” doesn’t fly. For the most part we’re the same, a loosely associated group of fans who go and watch their team of choice.
Organised supporters group are unique to soccer for a myriad of reasons, both necessary and banal. I should not have to defend them, but SGs seem constantly under attack by the media who don’t see the relevance of what is done. I find it strange that the guys who park for free, get entry for free, embrace the buffet and then sit in air conditioning press boxes think we’re a scourge of the game while we contribute financially to the club we love, honestly I don’t understand it.
It is because of the media that supporters groups came about. Bear with me, and allow me to make this case.
Every 4 years, wankers like Dan Shaughnessy here, and more locally Joe Strauss would write why they hate the our game. Right in the middle of the World Cup. Even in 2014 while we were partying at the Amsterdam, Strauss wrote diatribe like this shit. This was recent stuff too, The attacks on our sport were way worse the further into the past you delve. I daresay it will be trotted out again in 2018 by hacks who are trolling for clicks and a pat on the back by the knuckle dragging neanderthals who live for the NFL.
I eagerly await the offended to email and message now en masse. “I’m not a knuckle dragger, how dare you?”
Well fuck off mate. I’ve been called a grass fairy for 16 years for enjoying my sport. I’ve been called Anti-American, a communist and even moved to be written about with venom by Ann Coulter (I am kinda proud of that one) When for the best part of 50 years, if you’ve been maligned for enjoying a sport then I believe you have every right to band together in finding like minded souls.
With this, and the growth of American soccer (especially the recent rise of lower leagues), has paralleled the rise in social media. We can, and do flock together on Facebook and Twitter, and with that comes the name, a rallying point and banner. All Facebook groups and twitter handles have names. It just follows that the group would call itself something. This isn’t the same as beating to a bloody pulp a chav on a train and leaving an ICF calling card on his battered and bruised body. For 99.9% of supporters groups in this country, it is just a catch all banner to associate oneself.
Many of us read the recent, much maligned article in the New York Times magazine here and American soccer fans instantly went on the defensive. A little needlessly because there is a dark side to US soccer support. There is a dark side to everything*. It is why I could only say 99.9% of supporters groups are brilliant. However there is a dark side to everything in life, I thought the article was poorly written, but he also touched on a few key issues that are problematic. That said I’ll not worry about it, because we don’t have those issues, neither do most of the groups I encounter on my travels. It just annoys me when we’re lumped into the same category as one shithouse group of idiots from Houston for doing the Puto slur.
I’ll state here and now that drums and bro culture aren’t a dark side. Drums and bro culture aren’t the same as hooliganism that was rampant under Margaret Thatcher or the anti-Semitic Ajax v Feyenoord games. I got somewhat embarrassed by AO members from out of town put Budweiser cases on their heads and one got so plastered he dived in the water at Keiner Plaza, but I’ve also been there, I’ve been drunk and daft. What I have never been or tolerated is violence, racism, xenophobia, sexism or homophobia and to paint all SGs with the same brush is unfair and unwarranted.
The rise of the Supporters Group allows for dialogue between club and fans. There is usually a few members of the Supporters Group who talk to a front office and can get issues ironed out. Usually behind the scenes and away from the prying eyes of the media, The press don’t see what goes on. A healthy relationship between club and fans is exactly what we do bring to the table.
What is an issue, deep down; is we have fun, we bring atmosphere, we bring numbers and we have access to players and the GM like never before. For some reason I think that scares some of you media types. The benefits you once enjoyed are now enjoyed by the riff raff that you despise and don’t see a need for. Well, it isn’t about you anymore.
If you want people to clap politely. Go to the Masters.
*listen to SJWBingo on Olearys pod for a really good take on the article.