Blought #31: The Lonely Soccer Fan
Whether you call it the world’s game, football, futbol, or simply soccer; one thing stands true. It is a bit lonely being an American soccer fan. The exchanges of goals and saves accompanied by the prideful chants and harmonious cheers of any given club or country's supporters are only matched by those of drunken college American football fans on Saturday afternoon.
I love soccer. Growing up Black in America during the 90’s soccer had no presence. On television even the NHL got more coverage. During the summer of 2006 I had just finished my freshman year of high school. I was laying around the house bored out of my mind when I decided to tune in to a soccer game. It was the Group E matchup between the US and Italy.
America drew 1-1 with Italy that game later failing to make the knockout round of 16. Italy later went on to claim the championship. That day soccer left two impression on me. The first one was seeing Brian McBride’s face covered in blood after a contested header. I remember thinking “Wow, soccer is a lot more physical than I thought.” The second was “I have a new sport to follow.”
Since 2006 I have yet to miss a major soccer tournament. I even enjoy club level soccer by keeping up with the top European clubs and the MLS. The US Mens National Team, while not nearly as good as our women’s team, is progressing. No matter how much good soccer is out there, I have no one to share it with.
I don’t many, if any friends that enjoy soccer as much as I do. I love American football and basketball as much as the next guy but soccer also has a place in my heart. Despite the increase in coverage on major networks like ESPN, NBC and Fox, it is still a challenge to fully enjoy soccer here in the states. Granted significant time zone differences between us and the EU does make it a bit harder to watch matches. If I want to just enjoy a good game I need Bein Sports or Fox Soccer Plus just to watch.
I do find solace in the fact that a growing Latino demographic is forcing America to shift towards becoming more soccer friendly. Baseball is slowly dying while the NFL and NBA are both enjoying unbelievable growth and international recognition.
Today with the world becoming even more connected though technology I will admit is cool witnessing the evolution of soccer in America. Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand just gave Neymar the first ever soccer exclusive Jordan shoe and Kobe can be seen in past EA Sports FIFA Soccer ads. I was elated seeing Jay-Z at a Paris Saint-Germain game in Paris his past fall.
So I will continue to cheer on America as they look to claim the Copa America Centenario title as the host nation. I will also enjoy watching my favorite European nationals like Wayne Rooney and Kevin DeBruyne as they represent their respective nations in this years Euro Championship.
In doing so I will be all alone with no one to talk to about results or analysis of the games. Such is the life of the lonely American soccer fan.