Lets put the fanaticism back in fan….. Wait, what?

If you’ve followed my blog at all, it’s pretty obvious that I read all the time.  I don’t have an exact count of all the books that I’ve read this year, but since I started my blog in mid-March I’ve put up about 65 book reviews on here.  Including books that I read before I started my blog, I’m probably up to about 75 books so far this year (if you include books I read in December last year during the semester break the count is probably closer to 90 books).

All that said, spending all my time reading, I don’t generally watch much TV, I think most TV shows are crap and “reality” TV is even worse.  The only thing that I do watch on TV is sports. While I appreciate many sports, I’m not the biggest fan in the world, and there’s a good reason for that.  I don’t live in Europe.

Yes, you read that properly.  Try to figure out my reasoning there before I explain it, I can wait.  Done thinking yet?  Ok.  Being based in America automatically means that you aren’t a part of the most fanatical fanbase in the world, that distinction falls to football (or soccer if you prefer) fans from Europe.

In America we like to think that we’re the best at everything, our sports are supposed to be bigger and better and our fans are more dedicated than other fans.  Those are all flat out lies.  If you’ve never watched a game from the English Premier League (generally regarded as the best single league in the world) or from the UEFA Champions League (this is a kind of composite league from all of the best leagues from around Europe) do yourself a favor and watch some of the games.

Along with the various leagues, there is also the World Cup every four years with the competitions between different countries.  In trying to claim that the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the world, I recall hearing on TV that somewhere around 130 million people watched the game.  That’s nothing, for the world cup a few years ago, there was a report that over 1 billion people (that’s billion, with a B) watched the DRAW for the world cup.  Not even a game, that many people watched the draw to see who each team was going to play.

Soccer fans are also some of the most organized and creative fans in the world.  Watching some basketball games last year, you could hear the announcer at the games trying to get the fans to start chanting defense.  Look at this in comparison to soccer fans, who will randomly break out into song to heckle the other team.  There was another game where all 20,000+ fans in the stadium were singing Blue Moon.  Although I was only watching it on TV, it was really neat to hear that many people singing all at once.  While there are many sports fans for all the teams in America, a lot of them tend to be fair-weather fans, who don’t follow their teams as much when they aren’t doing well.  There are teams in England who haven’t won anything for decades, teams that haven’t even been in the main league for years that still have absolutely rabid fanbases.

So now to the point that actually made me want to do this post.  In a recent Sports Illustrated there was a short article that was talking about the recent riots in England.  Fans of the English club Millwall (which is a team I’ve never even heard of) stepped in to help the overwhelmed riot police, banding together with supporters from other local teams and marching down the main street of their southeast London neighborhood of Eltham to protect it from looters chanting “No one loots us.”  (Taken from the SI article written by Grant Wahl.)

Think about that for a second.  During a riot when most of us with any sense would be sitting at home barring doors and windows, these fans took it upon themselves to help the police handle the riots.  I couldn’t imagine anyone that I know working to help police for anything, let alone a large part of the fanbase working together for the same purpose.

I would love to see that level of organization and commitment from fans of American sports, and it some areas we may eventually get there, some of the MLS franchises are beginning to develop fanbases that are a little more rabid, but they don’t have the history behind them that European clubs do.  I would love to go to a World Cup match and when I have the opportunity I’ll do everything I can to seize it.

So there’s my post for the day, I’ll get back to my book reviews when I finish Locke Lamora in the next couple of days.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m with you. I lived in America all my life, but I love soccer! I went to the World Cup last year in South Africa and it was fantastic. Soccer fans are a kick. Soon I am moving to London and I can’t wait to go to the matches. We follow Liverpool and Tottenham. But I will go to any game. I hope you do see a World Cup match. It will blow your mind!

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