Why Every American is Now a “Football” Fan

As the World Cup continues, and the US Men’s National Team plays for a chance to move on tonight against Germany, I’ve continually been asked, “Do Americans really like football?” As seen on TV (no, this is not an infomercial!) and the internet, Americans are actively watching the matches, engaging on social media sites and actually acting as though they care about what happens! So where did all of these “fans” come from? In my opinion, there are two kinds of football/soccer fans in the US:

1. The real fans: These are the people who played soccer growing up, follow the MLS and/or actually understand what’s going on. They have an appreciation for the sport outside of the World Cup. Believe me, there ARE real fans in the US.

2. The “I love America” fans: This is where the majority of Americans fall into, myself included. We all sort of understand the rules since we played it in gym class, know yellow and red cards aren’t good and the point of the match is to get the ball in the goal. But that’s pretty much it. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little but not too much. For the most part, you’ll never see soccer on our TVs unless the US is playing.

But the point I’m trying to make…No matter what the sport or event, we’re Americans. We’re known for showing our patriotism. Most of us have something in our closets that has the American flag on it and if we don’t, we’ll get something! We love where we’re from and want to make that known, especially to our athletes playing. Today, it’s soccer. Tomorrow, who knows?! It could be figure skating or archery or whatever. The point is if there are Americans positively representing the country, we stand behind them.

To be honest, I do have a better appreciation for football since living in England. I’ve probably watched more matches in the 9 months I’ve been here than my whole life combined. But that’s the fun part of living in another country. I get to experience different things and gain better appreciations that I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d never left home.

So there you have it! We might not love soccer all year long, but we love our country. Alas, we love the World Cup. With that, good luck to the USA tonight and remember, One Nation One Team.

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First Football (Soccer) Match

If you didn’t know this about me, I love sports. All sports.  I love watching them, playing them, you name it and I’ll try it.  In my family, if you don’t like sports, well, good luck!  Just filled out my March Madness bracket the other day and like most, it’s already in the toilet.

I grew up a dancer (ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, hip hop, modern, you get the picture) but dabbled with sports in between.  Had my time playing softball – not for me.  I really liked baseball but once I was at a certain level I was asked to leave because I was a “liability”/they were afraid I was going to get hurt by the pitching machine.  In high school I played golf, and still play whenever I can.  When I lived in Arizona, being able to play golf had its bonuses as you can play all year long!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 20.05.34In terms of watching sports, I’ll watch anything.  I like:

Baseball (Go Cubs!)

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American Football (Go Pack Go!)

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Hockey (Let’s Go Hawks!)

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Now Football (or as we silly Americans call it, Soccer) is a sport I didn’t grow up with.  Sure, I went to a few matches in high school and played it in gym class, but it isn’t as popular in the states as it is everywhere else in the world.  So, living in the UK and trying to take in as much culture as possible, I experienced my first football match on 15th March 2014 – a Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Norwich.

IMG_3194We arrived at St. Mary’s Stadium on a surprisingly pleasant and sunny Saturday to a sea of red.  It’s nice to see people supporting the Saints through jerseys, t-shirts, scarves and beyond.

IMG_3190 IMG_3212We purchased out tickets through the University of Southampton and were seated in one of the corners.  A little worried about these seats, I was happily proven wrong.  The stadium holds a little over 30,000 people so there isn’t a bad seat in the house!  We were early enough to grab a pie, cider and watch warm-ups.

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With 20 minutes before the match, more than half the seats were emqpty.  But, as I soon learned, the seats fill up about 5 minutes before the whistle blows.  We contributed this to the fact that you can’t bring alcohols past the concession stands, so everyone drinks before finding their seats.

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When the match stated, the atmosphere changed dramatically.  It was a bit hard to understand the chants and cheers of the fans but there was one I did recognize – “When the Saints go Marching In”.  Having gone to a Catholic school for part of my life, and our mascot being the I.C. Saints, this was a familiar tune.  So, I joined in as best as I could.

Southampton beat Norwich that sunny Saturday, 4-2.   Not bad for my first, but definitely not last, Football match!

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