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.