TSG’s Nick Sindt with verbiage on MLS fan support
Swearing in MLS Stadia
Posh Spice is a trollop, Posh Spice is a whore,
When she’s shagging Davey Beckham, She thinks of Joe-Max Moore
– Chant told to Dan (FBM) and I by a New England Revolution supporter at a Chicago Fire game
Earlier this past season, the front office of the Philadelphia Union sent an open letter to its season ticket holders highlighting that the fans of the Union come in all shapes and sizes and they all have a right to enjoy the game. This letter went on further to highlight vulgar chants directed towards the opposition are not fostering an environment that is suitable for fans of all ages. In years past, the Nordecke in Columbus have come under similar fire from the Crew’s front office.
Sixteen years into its existence, Major League Soccer has come to an interesting stage of its development/maturation. No longer is the sport viewed as just a game for kids to burn off energy. No longer is it a spectator sport just for mommy, daddy, little Tommy & Suzie. Instead it is showing continued growth amongst the most important demographics and most of the teams can count on fervent supporters groups to be at each and every home game. At 16, and given the examples mentioned above it appears that MLS clubs need to make a decision about who’s money are they more interested in; the family dollar, or money from the 18+ crowd?
As the league continues to grow it is less and less dependent on the fleeting family dollar and therefore it would be in each club’s best interest to not agitate their passionate season-ticket holders with open letters condemning their language. However, the clubs and league cannot yet ignore the soccer moms and youth teams. For one, these butts in seats are still butts in seats, and two, the parents bringing these kids to games when they’re young creates that link to future fandom. The question then becomes should the clubs’ front office personnel go out of their way to continue championing a family friendly environment? Or, should they simply let their environments develop as they will?
Personally I would like to see MLS franchises begin to care less and less about the family friendly environment as that money is exceedingly transient (especially in a recession) and families tend to create library-esque environments unless a certain blond-haired Englishman is marauding up and down the pitch. Is there really a concern that five-year olds are hearing foul language and asking their parents what the word means? Better yet, if the kids are hearing the words and recognizing them, then this isn’t their first exposure to the word then, is it.
All of that being said I am in agreement with the MLS brass when it comes to profanity, but not for the same reasons. The profane chants that I’ve been a part of when attending MLS and US games (You suck asshole, single finger salutes, etc.) are rudimentary, pedantic, and just plain uncreative. Essentially we’re using profanity as if we were the middle schoolers (the ones we’re supposedly offending) and we just learned these fun words.
If we fans were to come up with more creative ways to get under the skin of the opposition (like the New England fans’ chant above though it does involve a word that isn’t acceptable in most conversations), especially if there’s less profanity being used, not too many front office types will have anything to say to about it. Let’s consider it a challenge to come up with better chants and not just to reduce the amount of profanity for profanity’s sake, but to reduce the amount of ennui that emanates from the tired vocal stylings of that one techno song that you hear in every stadium from Leverkusen to Los Angeles.
As for the soccer moms and dads and their spawn hearing these chants…here’s where the front office can have an impact without alienating their more ardent supporters. On the ticket selling website(s) indicate that certain sections are designated for families and some are not. This way when they bring their two toddlers to a game they know what they’re getting themselves and their impressionable ears into before they get to the stadium.
This is something that’s become somewhat important to me recently as my wife and I found out that we’ll be having the next Kristine Lilly in late April. While I realize that having a child, and especially a daughter, will change me forever, one thing I don’t want to change is where I sit when I catch a match live. I’ve sat in all parts of a stadium and the game and atmosphere are infinitely more enjoyable when I’m amongst the hard-core supporters. It is this atmosphere that helps make soccer the best sport on the planet, and it is this atmosphere that I want to expose my children to. However, I don’t want to have to explain why every chant HAS to involve the F-bomb.
So to the MLS brass, ease up on your supporters; they sign your paychecks. I don’t see the Philadelphia Eagles (who used to have a courtroom in the basement of their old stadium to immediately arraign drunks), the Cleveland Browns (known for years for having the rowdiest fans in the NFL), or the Raiders (who are well, Raiders fans) saying anything to their fans. If you truly are receiving complaints then get off your ass and find different ways to work around some of the filthy language that gets strewn about during professional sports matches; create a family section as far away from the supporters as possible, put disclaimers on the ticket selling websites – AO and Sam’s Army have figured it out…
To my fellow supporters, let’s put our heads together and come up with a few more ways to put down the opposition than simple swearing. We’re better and more creative than that. If you’re part of a supporter’s group that has fun chants that taunt the opposition without swearing for swearing’s sake, that’s awesome. Leave some of your work in the comments section so we can all be inspired to come up with some more creative chants.