Lifelong soccer fan here. My team, Arsenal, was established by brawny men who crafted weapons for the British military at a time when the sun never set on their empire. They have a cannon in the frickin’ logo. They have another frickin’ cannon parked outside their stadium in London.
They’re called, even in our politically-correct age, the Gunners. The NBA team formerly known as the Washington Bullets envies their aggressive branding.
Back when I was kid soccer player and fan, football coaches would smear the sport as a “Communist plot.” That smear would continue right up until the coach needed a kicker. Then, whaddya know, he’d go for a soccer player, because they know how to kick a ball with power and control. Soccer goal keepers also make good punters and tight ends.
But there’s a story out today that has me re-thinking the whole commie plot angle.
A letter is circulating on behalf of the NESCAC Men’s soccer coaches to parents of student-athletes, saying the conference will only allow ‘positive’ cheering from fans, furthering the wussification of sports in America.
The NESCAC (New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference) is comprised of schools such as Williams, Amherst, Tufts and Middlebury.
According to the email, NESCAC coaches ask that fans refrain from any ‘action that could potentially be construed as negative or confrontational,’ including booing and holding up signs that ‘could be interpreted as offensive in nature.’
Because I pay way too much attention to soccer, I get where this is coming from. It’s coming from Europe. Some fans in some countries (mostly Russia, but also Italy and Spain) engage in racist chants and hold up racist signs against non-white players on their rival teams (but not, of course, on the team they support). Some players, like World Cup vampire Luis Suarez, get a little racist on the field once in a while.
Those selectively racist fans get banned from stadiums for life when they’re caught, and the teams usually have to pay a price too. That tends to come in the form of having to play games with sections of their stadium seating left unsold, which costs the club money.
But in the US we don’t have that problem. We’re not as backward as Europe is on race relations.
Europe’s soccer fans do lead the world in hurling negative but non-racist, sometimes obscene, abusive chants at the enemy on the field. Many of those chants are hilarious and add to the atmosphere of the game.
But that also doesn’t really happen in US soccer. It’s not a part of our game here. We lag in the atmosphere indicator. The best US fans are probably the ones who support Portland and Seattle in MLS. They pack the stands and the Timbers have a logger guy who cuts a log with a big chainsaw when they score. That’s not politically-correct (a tree had to die!), and therefore it’s pretty cool. But I guess it qualifies as “positive.”
Yet some Yankee soccer people are writing emails warning everyone not to get all negative when cheering for soccer? I bet they vote leftwing Democrat and think Barack Obama is just grand, too.