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Football In the US


Lofty.

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From the BBC, an article that should be of particular  interest to our transatlanic members, but which also has a wider appeal, I feel:

 

Football in the US: A tale of three matches

 

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English Premier League fans in the US could watch the match in cinemas

 

For years, football enthusiasts have been predicting the game's ascendancy in the US. Writer Howard Megdal watched games in three different New York locations to see if those predictions are coming true.

There was scant evidence of a change in US football culture to be found one recent Saturday morning at the AMC Empire 25, near Times Square in Manhattan.

Fathom Events, which puts on to US cinema screens shows like National Theatre Live's A Streetcar Named Desire from the Old Vic, The Met's version of Macbeth, and a One Direction concert, is doing the same for one Premier League match each week until at least 18 October.

But the cinema was nearly empty. There were six people in total, my father and me included.

But far from some definitive, tired statement that "Americans don't care about soccer", it is instead instructive that such an opportunity is even being offered.

Moreover, the reason you didn't see many people there on Saturday had more to do with the frequency and sophistication with which Americans consume football than any reticence about the game itself.

We're now several months beyond a World Cup which drew unprecedented television ratings (and not just American games, either) along with the attention of mainstream media outlets around the country that often looked past football during previous World Cups.

For the "soccer" sceptics here, the last vestige of hope they had was once the tournament ended, people who'd come to care about the game would return to their Messi-free lives.

But if 2014 represented a new peak for football engagement in America, it wasn't some dam bursting as much as merely the latest wave cresting a bit higher on to the shore. Attendance for Major League Soccer has steadily increased in recent years, while NBC's foray into covering the Premier League was enormously successful last season, and looks to be even more popular so far this season.

Ten, even five years ago, it would have been impossible for an American to watch Crystal Palace take on Newcastle United at home, or at any bar. Seeing it would have been as difficult as travelling from my home in suburban New York to go see a show at the Old Vic in London.

But between the NBC family of networks and the NBC Live Extra app, Americans can now watch this, or any match, in high definition in their own home.

 

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Even when empty seats remain, energy courses through Red Bull Arena

 

Fathom Events CEO John Rubey declined to provide any specifics about attendance around the country, but said in an email that the "fan support we have seen so far is very encouraging".

In New York, the few fans who were in attendance were diehard Newcastle stock. Leighton Symons, a Newcastle season-ticket holder transplant from England, explained that an algorithm brought him to the theatre.

"It was something on my feed on Facebook," says Symons. "It said to watch the Barclays Premier League live, and I thought that was a fantastic idea."

He was in surprisingly good spirits, considering that Newcastle had surrendered a late goal at home to settle for a 3-3 draw against a Crystal Palace side they outclassed.

The empty seats proved a stark contrast to the scene at a recent match featuring the Red Bulls, New York's professional team.

More than 17,000 fans came to Red Bull Arena to watch the magic of Thierry Henry while they all still can. And this is no retirement year phenomenon: the Red Bulls have averaged more than 18,000 fans each year since Red Bull Arena opened in 2010.

 

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US fans flocked to the World Cup, but will they stick around?

 

I attended that match with several friends. These were casual football fans at one time, but now each of them participated in a fantasy league using Premier League stats, with loyalties to Newcastle and Tottenham among them.

The Red Bulls have the kind of European-style football atmosphere that fans here have seen on their televisions. Right on top of the action, the stands don't need to be full to make fans feel like they are part of something larger. And beer is available to those who don't mind queues at half-time. That's another issue with the cinema games - no beer.

Symons, the Newcastle fan, says he watches most Premier League matches at home. "But when I try to find Newcastle playing, I'll go to a bar, there's more of an atmosphere," he says.

Indeed, a few blocks away from the theatre, a huge contingent of fans were at a sports bar in time for the start of Everton-Chelsea. The televisions were plentiful, huge, and high definition. The drinks flowed. Downstairs, a room of about 100 people packed in, Lampard and Cole jerseys mixing with newer Hazards and Diego Costas.

The singing was audible from upstairs, and the joy present in a crowd witnessing six Chelsea goals was palpable out on the street.

The victim in goal, Tim Howard, was an American hero this summer. These Americans, not just football fans but Chelsea fans, didn't give it a second thought.

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Pretty good read and I think Football has always been well alive in North America, but there was never any real professional structure around the sport. I mean before 2002, apart from International tournaments, there was almost no football shown on TV. Now, every weekend, you can catch most of the Premier League games on a regular cable subscription. You can also get specialized channels (Sportsnet World and BEIN here in Canada) for even more coverage. 

 

It also interesting to see the development of local clubs into semi-professional entities (or professional in some cases). I've been really impressed by the Fury club here in Ottawa and how well it's received by the city. The club is averaging 6 000 supporters and the football is honestly not that bad. I think the winning factor is that football is still on the cheap side compared to other sport events here in Canada. For example, last weekend I went to see the Fury play against the Carolina Railhawks in the NASL, I've spent 35$ for the whole outing. That included the ticket, 2 imported beers (tall can), a pretzel and a free bus ride home included in the ticket. I was seated 4 rows behind the players bench. When you compare that to a Senators game (local NHL team), just the ticket would have been over 35$. And for next year, I'll be skipping the Montreal Grand Prix and will be getting a season ticket for the Fury instead as they are equivalent in price.

 

On the league side, in Canada, football is actually the most played sport at the youth level and it wouldn't surprise me if it was first at the adult level as well. I play in a city league here in Ottawa, and in my age group (18 to 35) there are 6 competitive divisions and 6 rec divisions of 14 teams each. In addition to recognized leagues, we've got local leagues created by individuals or local sport organizations. So you can't say there isn't a grass root culture, the problem really lies in the fact that the professional side is limited to only 3 main clubs (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver). 

 

Here is the local venue :

 

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Really love football taking off overseas. I will stand up and defend to the hilt any fellow foreign fans. I don't buy that living in England and being able to attend Chelsea matches makes you a better or more worthwhile fan nor will I accept that English fans are somehow more knowledgeable about football than their foreign counterparts. 

However it is really important to distinguish between the burgeoning waterfall that is the growth of European football support in America, and the steady trickle of growth among the American domestic market. The two are related but I would argue that the evidence we have from similar situations across Asia is that European and domestic football are actually in competition. It's this particular discrepancy that is the biggest 'cap' on domestic football really taking off in America or Australia. Interest in European leagues is not automatically translating into gains for the domestic product and in fact inhibits it.

The main reason for this is that we in America and Australia have been accustomed to seeing the world's best in our native sports (NFL/NBA/Rugby League/AFL etc) whereas in football our domestic leagues are well down the food chain. Many football 'fans' who are attracted to the European game assume a position of self-righteousness and snobbery towards their domestic leagues because of a perceived lack of 'quality'. Yes, the cream of the crop don't play in the MLS, but there are just as many exciting games, long-range goals and bore draws in the EPL as in MLS. The new fans, however, are reluctant to admit that reality and in turn become hostile to the domestic game. It creates a culture of matchday consumerism; the idea that if I am not entertained by the 'product', I will exercise my consumer "right" to complain or find a better product. It is this precisely attitude that raises the ire of 'traditional' fans over the pond, however the Internet does a fantastic job of showing the consumerist attitude is eagerly embraced by English and foreign fans alike.

The road around that is simple. Clubs in the MLS and Australia are starting to build a genuine membership culture. A bond between club and supporter that goes beyond consuming a product and is more about being part of something bigger. It's about encouraging genuine emotional investment in your hometown team. This culture change is largely fan-driven, through loud, passionate, vocal active support that is unique to football over other sports.

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  • 1 month later...

Really love football taking off overseas. I will stand up and defend to the hilt any fellow foreign fans. I don't buy that living in England and being able to attend Chelsea matches makes you a better or more worthwhile fan nor will I accept that English fans are somehow more knowledgeable about football than their foreign counterparts.

Do you really think someone flicking on their computer and watching an internet stream is in any way comparable to someone who supports their local team (through good and bad) and attends games home and away over a lifetime? People are free to support who they want but you can't compare the two.

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I hope that football does not supplant homegrown US sports because, if football became THE US sport in the same way as it is in most of the world, the US, because of the influence of its wealth and population, might gain too much power over the sport. If that happened, the thought of the changes to the game that might result are a worry.

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The recent success of the US Men's National Team (USMNT) has certainly exploded the popularity of the game out here, and I hope that the momentum continues.

 

I live in the Northwest of the US now, and the Seattle Sounders are constantly followed well.  Chelsea came to play them a couple fo times, and on one occassion they opened up the top tier of the Century Link field as the demand was that great 60k+

 

Their home games are often in the 40k+ and they have a section of fans that stand the entire time and chant and sing.  Portland Timbers (ex Chelsea player John Spencer used to be their manager) also have a fantastic section of home fans that they call the "Timber's Army."  Other stadiums seem to be hit and miss, in fact, I believe that the Chivas USA team either has been, or is about to be, dissolved due to lack of attendance.

 

That being said, I don't think Soccer is ever going to sweep the nation, as has been predicted for decades now, and I think that there are a few reasons for that.

 

First, I don't know that soccer in the US has really found its identity yet.  They do have some big players, but those player are historically (other than say Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, and Keller - who have mainly, not Donovan,  all played outside of the US at some point) people like Keane, and Martins, and Beckham, and Henry who have had great careers elsewhere, but now see the MLS as somewhere to still earn a paycheck in the twilight of their careers.  The league has changed formats, and tweaked things here and there to try and make it more appealing.  And I think they are close to getting it right.  

 

Then there are the fans.  Obviously this is a large part of the identity, but here's my take on a lot of (not all of) the MLS fans.    I have been to a few games, and obviously when I interact with fans, my accent stands out immediately.  Then the fans put on this fake pseudo English/Aussie accent and start calling me "mate."  I also think a lot of them have seen the bad side of football fans from around the world and think "that's what it must mean to be a real fan." SO they talk about being Hooligans, and want to fight other teams, and jump about as if the more exuberant they yell the better they'll be seen as their peers as a 'real fan."  In all honesty, it's forced and embarrassing.

 

Second, there is a thing in the US called title 9.  This ties into college sports (a real eye opener to anyone that comes over here from Europe...their college Football games are attended in some stadiums but 80k+ fans.  All over the country.  TV rights, rivalries etc.  It is amazing.  Then there are the Basketball, and Baseball teams.  All male, all on some form of scholarship, and all filled with the next generation of superstars.  

 

Title 9 says that for every dollar spent on Male athletics, an equal amount must be spent on female athletics.  Now, believe, me, women's volleyball isn't filling 80k+ stadium for their games.  But the colleges want to attract more top players with scholarships..so how can they free up more funds for ale athletes??  Have a number of women on Volleyball, Softball, Basketball, and yep Soccer teams, all on "full ride" (everything paid for) scholarships.  That free's up a lot of cash for the male sports that then get the TV deal's that then make the college more money.

 

Soccer will always be seen as a female sport here, because through college more money is spent on women's soccer than men's.  That's why the US women's national team has been so dominant for ages, and yet not that many people care.

 

Anyway, that's a couple of my thoughts about it

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Do you really think someone flicking on their computer and watching an internet stream is in any way comparable to someone who supports their local team (through good and bad) and attends games home and away over a lifetime? People are free to support who they want but you can't compare the two.

You can't help admire those foreign fans who are waking up at odd times of the day to watch their team on a sh*tty stream. I get the point you are trying to make but for those fans who stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning to watch their favorite clubs deserve some respect.
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You can't help admire those foreign fans who are waking up at odd times of the day to watch their team on a sh*tty stream. I get the point you are trying to make but for those fans who stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning to watch their favorite clubs deserve some respect.

No more respect than someone in the UK staying up all night to watch the superbowl or the World Cup when held at a non-BST friendly venue.

 

Listen, when I was going to football, I mean away matches now, I wouldn't just get up at 2:00 am, if I was skint I'd set out on a Friday night, hitchhiking to the likes of Carlisle (yes I did get there a couple of times), Newcastle, Middlesboro, Blackburn, Blackpool, Leeds, Burnley, Preston, Hull, Grimsby, Sheffield, Rotherham, and God knows how many other Northern sh*tholes.

 

I don't ask for "respect". It was my choice, and if I was skint, it was largely down to the lifestyle I was leading at the time. So I'm very, very sorry, you won't get a solitary scrap of respect from me for choosing to wake up at whatever time, and you'll get no sympathy whatsoever for having to "endure" a sh*tty stream.

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You can't help admire those foreign fans who are waking up at odd times of the day to watch their team on a sh*tty stream. I get the point you are trying to make but for those fans who stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning to watch their favorite clubs deserve some respect.

You want to give people respect for watching the telly?. That's ridiculous.

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Besides being raised into football the main thing what really got me into the Sport was the passion for it and the drama and such. Like I was always on the edge of my seat watching Chelsea games years ago and I still am, it's such a fantastic game. If I was American I don't even think I would like this sport because I wouldn't have felt that sort of thing. I remember always going to school and it was hard if Chelsea lost a game because I would get tortured but if we won I could then walk around freely and love it.

 

It's not really the same in America is it, it's not really there main sport and you don't get that rivalry or passion for it. I will say as much as I despise the other clubs I can look back on these rivalries and love the experience of it. Every time we played Liverpool in the Champions League something always happened, just as when we where challenging Sir Alex's Man U in the league, something always happened. It's a really good story football is, I think we should be really grateful for how the sport is because I don't ever want it to get worse, if anything it just gets better for me.

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No more respect than someone in the UK staying up all night to watch the superbowl or the World Cup when held at a non-BST friendly venue.

 

Listen, when I was going to football, I mean away matches now, I wouldn't just get up at 2:00 am, if I was skint I'd set out on a Friday night, hitchhiking to the likes of Carlisle (yes I did get there a couple of times), Newcastle, Middlesboro, Blackburn, Blackpool, Leeds, Burnley, Preston, Hull, Grimsby, Sheffield, Rotherham, and God knows how many other Northern sh*tholes.

 

I don't ask for "respect". It was my choice, and if I was skint, it was largely down to the lifestyle I was leading at the time. So I'm very, very sorry, you won't get a solitary scrap of respect from me for choosing to wake up at whatever time, and you'll get no sympathy whatsoever for having to "endure" a sh*tty stream.

That's brilliant! Amazing how devoted you are to get up in the early hours of the night to hitchhike to away places.

 

I'm a foreigner who gets up at the early hours of the morning to watch Chelsea. In the old days I could only listen to the radio to hear what was happening at the game but with the luxury of television these days, it's easy to get up and watch the game these days except for work days which can be a killer admittedly. 

 

I'm not interested in 'respect', but I'm just more motivated by wanting to support the team and actually follow them live. 

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In all honesty I don't think it was dedication so much as compulsiion the feeling that you had to be there, that by not turning up, you'd be letting yourself and your mates down. I imagine it's still the same lower down the leagues, at clubs where most of the traditional supporters haven't been priced out.

 

There's something anoracky about dedication, this was something else entirely.

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No more respect than someone in the UK staying up all night to watch the superbowl or the World Cup when held at a non-BST friendly venue.

Listen, when I was going to football, I mean away matches now, I wouldn't just get up at 2:00 am, if I was skint I'd set out on a Friday night, hitchhiking to the likes of Carlisle (yes I did get there a couple of times), Newcastle, Middlesboro, Blackburn, Blackpool, Leeds, Burnley, Preston, Hull, Grimsby, Sheffield, Rotherham, and God knows how many other Northern sh*tholes.

I don't ask for "respect". It was my choice, and if I was skint, it was largely down to the lifestyle I was leading at the time. So I'm very, very sorry, you won't get a solitary scrap of respect from me for choosing to wake up at whatever time, and you'll get no sympathy whatsoever for having to "endure" a sh*tty stream.

Well said. People who go to such extent don't do so to show what a super fan they are...it is perspnal choice like you say. I have a mate who is a Palace fan and has been travelling all over the country to see them play for over 20 years. Palace have never won one major trophy in their entire history. Of course someone from the other side of the world who gets up early to watch a stream is less of a supporter. It'd be ludicrous to suggest anything else.

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A Chelsea fans a Chelsea fan, doesn't matter when they started supporting them, where they are from, how much official club toilet roll they buy etc. If you're a Chelsea fan then you're alright by me. Well most of them  :wink:

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Agreed, this is turning a little RAWKish,

"I'm a better fan than you"

'no I'M a real fan'

'No listen, I am the best fan'

No it isn't. I established that people who follow their team all over the country don't do it for recognition or praise as a super-fan. I'm just saying these two types of 'supporter' aren't in any way comparable.

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Agreed, this is turning a little RAWKish,

"I'm a better fan than you"

'no I'M a real fan'

'No listen, I am the best fan'

If you think that's what I've written, either in this thread or anywhere else, then you might want to go back and read the relevant posts properly.

Neither I nor George Mills have ever claimed to have been a "better" fan, read my post again and you'll see that I'm not asking for respect, that what I did was my choice, and if I was skint it was because of the lifestyle I was living.

 

In fact the "better fan argument" was pursued by BavarianAfrican, who appears to honestly believe that someone someone getting up at 2:00 am or 3:00 am to watch some sh*tty stream is worthy of "respect" an "admiration". If you agree with that, well ok, everyone's entitled to their opinion, even if that opinion - in the opinion of my good self, is utter bullsh*t.

 

But do me a favour, go back and read this thread again - the off topic posts, not the posts relevaant to US football, and then maybe you can explain exactly how you come to the conclusion that this place is getting like RAWK.

 

I'll try to make it easy for you. What you're inferring:

 

"I'm a better fan than you"

"No you're not. I'm a better fan"

 

The actual debate:

 

BavarianAfrican: "Overseas fans are worthy of respect for getting up at 2:00 to watch a sh*tty stream"

Me; "No they're not. When I went to away matches it wasn't for "respect" either, it was my choice".

 

No mention of "better" there. Hitchiking is arguably more arduous than getting up in the middle of the night, but so what?: It was my choice. Something I wanted to do. I don't ask for respect, and I'm f**ked if I'm going to respect someone just for getting up to watch the TV. Hitchhiking to aways is also something I've' been talking about in the Vintage section, again not so show how great a fan I was, but because there were, I think, some genuinely amusing and interesting incidents.

 

I could go on, but f**k me this is getting ridiculous. If you still think this is "RAWK like" and about whose the better fan, then you clearly have a problem with comprehension and understanding what's in front of you.

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That's brilliant! Amazing how devoted you are to get up in the early hours of the night to hitchhike to away places.

 

I'm a foreigner who gets up at the early hours of the morning to watch Chelsea. In the old days I could only listen to the radio to hear what was happening at the game but with the luxury of television these days, it's easy to get up and watch the game these days except for work days which can be a killer admittedly. 

 

I'm not interested in 'respect', but I'm just more motivated by wanting to support the team and actually follow them live. 

 

Exactly where I am too.  Used to travel to the bridge from Scotland a few times (from an Island), and then I lived in Wiltshire for a while so I was able to get a train in and watch the Chels a few times too...much easier then.

 

The stuff people like Lofty have done is truly amazing...

 

Now, I get up whenever the games are on (4am or whenever) and enjoy watching as "live" as I possibly can.  Under no circumstance do I believe this should earn me respoct, and there is no way I'm looking for that.  I just enjoy the thrill of getting up (sometimes not sleeping) to watch Chelsea play live.  

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