Thursday, April 09, 2009

Just a fan: Yeah, but it's fun to get a little crazy

I was in that crowd. In the days that have passed since that game in Columbus there has been lots of criticism of the boys in red that invaded Ohio. Some of it has been legitimate – throwing railings onto the pitch is stupid. Some has been overblown – there was next to no real violence after the game. Some of it suffers in cultural translation – smoke bombs aren’t accepted in North America but are pretty benign in soccer stadiums in other parts of the world. Stadiums where a good chunk of the crowd that was in Columbus grew up in. But there has been very little attention to the great unspoken.

Being in that crowd was fun. It was likely the most fun I’ve ever had at a sporting event, outside of the 2005 Vanier Cup. The truth is sports are nothing but games without passion. North American culture has attempted to sanitise sporting culture for years. It’s verboten for sportswriters to actually care about the results of the teams they are covering (as if the importance of the game requires their absolute objectivity). The average Joe that does care has been shut out by ticket prices and business practices that promote scalping to ensure ticket scarcity. JumboTron prompts have replaced spontaneity in the stands. Every second of a fan’s experience is scripted and controlled in the vast majority of sporting events in North America.

So when a situation comes about where actual passion is displayed it makes many people uncomfortable. The masses can’t be trusted to control themselves when they get all worked up, authorities think. We must stop them. It’s for their own good.

So rather than treat idiots that cross the line on an individual level – boot ‘em out; take their tickets. Most of us understand how to ride the line without crossing it – as a society we are compelled to have serious conversations about What It Really Means. The charge is lead by our over j-schooled, self-promoted fun police sportswriters. How dare they care! Next thing you know they are going to start writing blogs telling me how I have it all wrong!

The truth is I can’t take any of it seriously any more. If I don’t care, and I’m not allowed to express how much I care, what’s the damn point of wasting my life following a bunch of men playing a child’s game?

It’s time to stop worrying about what might happen if the great unwashed get too excited at a sporting event. Instead, it’s time for us to embrace our inner sports fan id and start having fun at the games again.

After all, passion makes sports, and life, worthwhile.

This is the first of what will be a near daily post that I’ll be writing for OOLF. I’m calling the column (?) What Do I Know I’m Just a Fan, or Just a Fan for short. The focus will be on, well, the fan’s experience. Although today I did use TFC as a jumping off point I don’t think that I will be focusing on soccer much. I do that elsewhere.


Pattington said...

The issue with your argument is that the idea of "fun," whether prepackaged and produced or not, is subjective. What some think is fun may not be fun for others. Personally, I don't care that some people want to throw sh*t on the grass, or blow stuff up - good on them for following thier inner Calvin. What I have an issue with is when such fun imfringes on others who don't have that same view of fun. I don't want to invoke the whole "family argument," but if I had a kid, I wouldn't want him/her in such an environment.

Also, whatever happened to just enjoying the pure athletism of sports? When did it become the case that one had to be piss-drunk loaded to enjoy sports?

sager said...

Since ever? The Romans probably were not all clean and sober when they watched the chariot races.

Duane Rollins said...

My issue with your argument is that you aren't listening to me. In no way do I promote crossing the line.

Personally, I don't care that some people want to throw sh*t on the grass, or blow stuff up - good on them for following thier inner Calvin. What I have an issue with is when such fun imfringes on others who don't have that same view of fun. I don't want to invoke the whole "family argument," but if I had a kid, I wouldn't want him/her in such an environment.

Again, throwing shit on the pitch is not what I'm talking about -- loud, passionate involved support is. Keeping it on TFC for a second, the south end of BMO is designated as a supporter's section. If you were to come in and demand that the people there tone down their behaviour you'd actually be infringing on what their idea of fun is. The club actually has different rules in those sections. For instance, don't try and get us to sit down. You'll be laughed out of the section -- by security.

Clubs have family sections. Maybe it's time to think about adults only sections too...

Anonymous said...

Adult only zones? Lonnie G had that here in Ottawa , complete with Mardi Gras days that resulted in topless women--which is perfectly legal in Ontario for the last dozen days. Didn't help the Renegades though . It seems you could still see the goings on in the adult zone from the family zones. Speculation is that it drove away more fans (the conservative Ottawans )than it attracted.

And to this day I know of people who will not attend a university game here. They think the fans present are all a bunch of drunken, rowdy, youth. It seems that they remember,many years later, the stories of the Panda game antics--and the injuries when the railing broke. No amount of reassurance, on my part, will convince them that it is any different at university games now.


Anonymous said...

years not days

Dennis Prouse said...

This is where the cultural differences between Toronto and Ottawa come to the fore. Ottawa is Ottawa - pretty staid and conservative. If you think the Red Patch Boys act is ever going to fly at a sporting event here, you are nuts.

More specifically, there is a massive disconnect between this, and the sales pitch being given to us by Ottawa MLS supporters. Build the soccer-specific stadium in Kanata, they say -- little six year old Kaylee from the Nepean Butterflies girls soccer team and her yuppie parents will get into the minivan and come to the game. To see THAT? Not on your life.

Anonymous said...

Two Stadiums A Possibility

Stephanie Kinsella
CFRA 580

Friday, April 10, 2009

After city council balked at both of the $100 million stadium proposals, ongoing discussions suggest that Ottawa could see parts of both plans built.

Mayor Larry O'Brien says since Monday's meeting he has met and spoke personally with the people behind both bids, and while he remains mum on the details of those conversations, he says residents shouldn’t count out anything just yet.

City staff presented councilors with a report that ranked the 2 proposals, with Lansdowne Live, led by 67's owner Jeff Hunt, emerging as the top contender with 80 points, while the plan from Senators owner Eugene Melnyck trailed with 70 points.

sager said...

@ Dennis: As someone who went to a couple games last season rather than criticize that what I can't or won't understand, there are plenty of parents with children at TFC.

The supporters have the south end zone stands; everyone else gets the two sides.

Remember, not everyone likes Ottawa being so staid and conservative. That's part of why I won't be here much longer.

Anonymous said...

New Harris/Decima Poll done for the Ottawa/Sun---margin of error, 4.4%, 19/20 times

20% support funding LL
16% support funding Kanata stadium
29% support funding both
31% support funding none

When asked if they had to choose one

58% chose LL
32% chose Kanata stadium
7% said neither
3% did not answer

32% said they would attend CFL games
31% said they would attend MLS games

All this is consistent with an Ekos poll done last December.

Important point is that 31% opposed the city funding a stadium.A clear majority supported the idea. Will Ottawa City Council listen?