the (north [specifically the usa]) americanization of soccer cheers

June 7, 2006 at 6:07 pm | Posted in brian, football (soccer) | 3 Comments

i went to my first real salt lake game of the season a couple weeks ago. i went to a number of rsl games last year and found them somewhat enjoyable–meaning there were/are a number of things i like about the games and a number of things i dislike.

the likes: soccer, in my opinion (and the opinion of this guy knows what i’m talking about), is the best sporting event to watch live (or on tv); the fans are generally cooler than other sporting events (which i think is due to a combination of lower ticket prices and the fact that soccer fans are generally cooler than other sports fans); even though seating is technically reserved, you can buy any ticket and sit nearly whereever you like; soccer players have the best haircuts in sports; and soccer jerseys, on average, are hipper than any other team sport.

the dislikes: i usually sit in the northeast corner (i forgot what they call it, but i think it’s for so-called real real fans) andthe sun is in your face almost the entire first half; sometimes i can’t find a scalper selling cheap tickets for the life of me and haven’t figured out a reasonable way to sneak-in; and the halftime events (time-killers) are terrible (last game this girl totally cheated–she was supposed to navigate an over-sized soccerball through a line of over-sized kfc buckets then take a shot on goal and she totally skipped the last three buckets but god or satan made her miss her shot on goal for cheating since the halftime organizers didn’t care).

while the likes outweigh the dislikes i do want to spend some time talking about my biggest dislike: soccer chants.

this dislike deserves attention percisely because it should be a like. in theory, these chants seperate the experience of a live soccer match from every other sporting event. these chants are not the jumbo-tron telling you to say defense or stomping and clapping along with “we will rock you.” they’re not even the wave or the tomahawk (which is totally racist). soccer chants are spontaneous and improvised rather than being cued by the pa system. they derive from the fans themselves and they’re ever present throughtout a soccer match. this isn’t simply a matter of quantity over quality, but quality growing out of an unorganized, grass-roots (dare i say democratic?) approach to cheering rather than having a jumbo-tron telling one how to cheer. (i mean, i get so annoyed at jazz games their constant messages of “get on your feet” and “make some noise”–i thought this was america.) in other words, chants should be one of the best experiences at soccer matches.

moving from the abstract to the actual, the chants at the rsl game were a disappointment. while walking to my seat i was handed a paper with the words to some standard rsl chants. this disappointed me on multiple levels. (1) if you can’t figure out the cheers after one or two hearing, you probably shouldn’t be cheering. (2) passing out fliers with pre-planned cheers is just a step below jumbo-tron cheers. (3) a list of ready-made cheers reduces the chances of improvised cheers.

past streamlining the chants, the chants themselves were problematic. many of the cheers were nearly out-right lies: talking about blowouts before the game has even started? if chants are going to be effective (not to mention awesome) they’ve got to be realistic. nobody’s going to believe some boring chant about real being the best soccer team in the world (let alone the mls); but everyone (or everyone cool) can get behind a chant about how the altitude in utah will wear-out the other team.

so next time you’re at a soccer match, don’t accept the paper with pre-planned chants. stand up and create your own (but make sure they’re funny [some of the time]).


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  1. i just like to whistle at the refs and players like when we were in mexico. if mls games were like futbol games in mexico, the chants could only be awesome.

  2. […] it on a postcard August 1, 2007 at 12:52 am | In football (soccer), brian | i once wrote a blog about hating the boring cheers at rsl soccer games, but i’ll tell you what rsl game feature i […]

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