Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Open InvitationTo Marina Hyde

Zach was the first to bring it to my attention, sometime last year: the tiresome predictability and inaccuracy of so many British journalists' pieces on soccer in the United States. That we don't get football over here and we never will, har har. That no one watches it, and those who do don't understand what they're seeing.

This week it was Marina Hyde, writing a patronizing article about 'soccer' in the U.S. (quotation marks hers--I wonder if she writes 'il calcio' and 'futbal' when she writes about other countries' names for it?), centered around the arrival of Posh and Becks in L.A. I've got nothing against the author of the piece; I've enjoyed her writing on football in the past, and this is not remotely the most insulting thing I've read about footie in the US but I guess that on reading this piece I hit critical mass with the clueless-American-football-fans articles. Reader, I snapped.

Naturally, she makes a point of mentioning that in the parking lot of the Home Depot Center she sees Christian fishes and one bumper sticker promising "Jesus Saves," because we are, after all, a nation of wacky religious fanatics. She pronounces the fact that the Galaxy shares the stadium with their fiercest rivals, Chivas USA, as proof of "how very mannerly" it all is. (San Siro, anyone?) She finds the Galaxy fans she meets who "like to talk about football the game as opposed to football the family picnicking experience" to be rare birds indeed. She goes on to gently mock the efforts of the most hardcore Galaxy supporters group to create a European or Latin American-style atmosphere and archly surmises about the unlikelihood of such a thing ever happening. She includes several hilarious references to the non-hooligan nature of US soccer fans--because we all know that screaming racist invectives and beating up people is what really makes the atmosphere at a game--and reveals amusingly that "Galaxy games are preceded by a loudspeaker announcement that foul language will not be tolerated," which is certainly not something written into the rules of any football clubs across the pond.

So. Here is my open invitation to Marina Hyde, who seems to thinks we have no idea what we're doing here in the U.S., because maybe the Galaxy atmosphere and fans really are just as you describe them. Come to Portland and hang with the Timbers Army in the North End. You quote a member of the LA Galaxy's Riot Squad saying they have about 200 people who stand during the game; here in the City of Thorns we are at least 1000 strong across several sections and growing exponentially. Thomas Dunmore, a Brit who does get the rising tide of American soccer fandom, has written about us (and other US fan groups). Our songs and chants, some of them gleefully foul, thunder throughout the stadium and the surrounding streets. We make our own stuff: we have more homemade scarves, T-shirts, buttons, kilts, and assorted paraphernalia than we know what to do with. We have a hugely active online community--a busy message board and at last check, approximately one zillion Timbers fan sites and blogs linked at the top of said message board. We used to have a zine, Ax to the Head. We have podcasts! We have capos and flags and confetti and streamers and smoke bombs (illegally) and once we even had flares, although that's unlikely to ever happen again, and best of all, we have Timber Jim, a crazy lumberjack complete with chainsaw and drum who rappels throughout the stadium. Ask traveling Sunderland fans (who have hearts of gold) what they thought of how we're doing things here.

Seriously. You should come: drink with us before and after the matches, stand and sing with us, see what's happening with football at a real grass-roots level in this American city. But be warned: we might just make a chant about you.

1 comment:

Lynda said...

After a lot of deliberation, for the first time ever I rejected a non-spam comment here. I apologize to the commenter, whom I do not wish to make feel unwelcome, and I hope you'll come back and read and comment some more. But in the interest of keeping things civil here I'll have to put my moderator cap on and reject any comments that are personal attacks on people as opposed to their work or actions, such as namecalling and wishing ill will upon folks. (Although I reserve my right to call local fans who throw shit at the pitch "wankers.")

So, again, apologies to the commenter; we don't get enough commenting traffic here to have "guidelines" or anything but I guess this is the first.

And finally: after watching the media circus that was the Galaxy v Chelsea match yesterday, sheesh, I've decided Marina Hyde is right. We are idiots. Jaysus.