Matthew Biggerstaff doesn’t dubstep around Generation Y Soccer in America
As one of TSG’s youngest contributors (Matt has lovely and legitimate conversations about car seats and strollers with our men’s league teammates) it is my duty to keep you informed on the social status of the game we all love so dearly with the most important generation (that being my own, of course).
All self-importance aside, I do think that people ages 16-25 are the critical group that must adopt, love, and share the game with their peers to continue the rapid rise in soccer awareness in America if you will.
This will lead it to become a mainstream part of our society (specifically the MLS and USMNT) after some of the great work people like Matt Mathai and supporters groups across the US have done to build supporters and the league.
I know, the first thing you think of when you think of this group is GET OFF MY LAWN, however there have been some positive signs and encouraging progress, including pissing off people like Dana White. Hopefully my observations can provide some insight into how the game is progressing from a social standing.
In case you missed White’s (head jabroni of the UFC) rant at the end of March, here is a brief recap.
‘Can’t stand soccer. It’s the least-talented sport on Earth. There’s a reason three-year-olds can play soccer. When you’re playing a game when the net is that big and the score is 3-1 (and that’s a blowout) are you kidding me? You know how untalented you have to be to score three times when the net is that big?’
Apparently Mr. White forgot that just ahead of soccer on the list of things three year olds like to do, is wrestling and fighting. Jimmy Conrad responded via youtube and his analysis was spot on.
First off, tangent much Dana White?
Why does soccer threaten you so badly?
Is it because when this was posted on Facebook and Reddit everyone laughed at your ignorance and wondered what stick got stuck up your ass?
The reaction that I saw was a bunch of people embarrassed for a guy who has ‘Old Newspaper Sportswriter Syndrome’, otherwise known as the need to knock something they do not understand or like. You know, that columnist in the paper who has been the baseball beat writer since the beginning of time and can’t figure out what all the noise over this ‘World Cup’ is and decides to share his two cents on how soccer is a fad and kids play it until they are 12 and then don’t follow it anymore and suddenly they mutate into ‘true’ (ie baseball) sports fans like some sort of weird genetic experience.
We get it Dana, playing a bending pass to beat three defenders to an onrushing striker after a 12 pass buildup doesn’t take as much talent as fighting someone in a confined space.
These gentlemen (generally, I haven’t seen any ladies dumb enough to write this sort of article) are a relic of time having been passed by. I’m sure most of them think the internet is a fad, and jorts will be good to wear on warm days this summer. In contrast to this, I will share some things I have seen amongst my peers in the last two months that strongly contradict this stance that ‘Soccer is stupid, no one likes it, it will go away.’
I was driving in a neighborhood in the Bay Area on a nice day and I saw a dude about 12ish skateboarding in a crisp red Landon Donovan USMNT kit.
First, I was jealous, as that kit is FRESH and he looked better than I did right then, not to mention I haven’t purchased that jersey, so I had some jersey envy in that moment too.
It got me thinking about when I owned my first US kit (probably not until 19?) and the fact that kids these days grow up with the USMNT as role models and a team to cheer for, and they wear their gear as well. This exposure didn’t exist when I was in middle school ten years ago. My friend Shawn pointed out that yes, while it is cool an American kid is rocking the US jersey while skating, kids in Europe are rocking their national kits while actually playing instead of skating. We have to start somewhere though right? My friends and I always prized our jerseys as the height of our middle school fashion, so if you were wearing a jersey, it had to be of someone you really liked and would stand behind as a fan. None of this ‘oh I guess I kinda like that team, my aunt and uncle got it for me’ but real support. You weren’t showing up rocking a Charlotte Hornets jersey without a good reason that you were wearing it. If young Americans think US soccer is cool, we are getting somewhere (and consider me Miles Davis.)
At the mecca of all things cool and fashion forward, Coachella, I was accosted by multiple MLS jerseys.
In case you
don’t know what Coachella is live without the iFins, it is an indie/electronic music festival in Indio, CA (weekend 1, holler) that attendees would say is the most important place to be all year and the pinnacle of being ahead of trendiness.
It was here that I first saw a Chivas USA jersey as we pulled into the campground and parked.
At first I thought ‘Chivas USA fans do exist?’ but then realized that if one was wearing any outfit at Coachella, it was carefully curated to make a statement as you only get three days of showing your finest fashions to your fellow campers and the ridiculous magazines like US Weekly that cover it.
However this was no random sighting as later I saw an attractive female with an Henry NYRB jersey on Saturday afternoon. You must understand that for a girl to be wearing this outfit, it truly meant something. My own girlfriend spent a minimum of 6 hours picking, preparing, and matching her Coachella outfits and I was privy to at least 4 picture messages and 17 text message on my thoughts on said outfits. (Note, the lady and I follow the delicatessen’s principle to looking at those of the other sex in public. “I’m still getting the ham sandwich, but the turkey looks nice today.”)
She spent more time on those outfits then I did packing and preparing for the entire weekend! The fact a crispwhite Henry was gracing the Polo Fields was an affirmation of the league’s success in itself. I am sure Don Garber will be happy to hear that the league has made it based on said fact.
My coworkers have thoughts on the new national team kit.
Not only do they have thoughts but they have preferences and favorites! from previous years. One coworker, who said he preferred preseason MLB to Champions League action, forwarded me a Deadspin video about the new US kits, and proceeded to let me know he thought the new ones looked like Waldo and he liked the blues from last year much better. At this point, another coworker stated that he liked the 2009 white (which I think is certainly one of the best of recent years) and that the denim jerseys of 94, although paired exceedingly well with a mullet, should probably see the light of day about never again. The fact that they not only care about the US jerseys but have solid opinions on them and would bring them up without me mentioning them is a certain leap forward. It would be a stretch to call either of these guys big soccer fans, and yet here we were discussing the finer points of the US third kit.
If nothing else, let these examples strengthen your case, you out there who annoy your coworkers with your discussion of the USMNT’s latest friendly or who you think is going to win the golden boot in the MLS.
Continue bringing those topics up amidst the scorn and funny looks.
To you, rocking your US red kit or the Columbus Crew black kit as you hit up the dive bars when you go out in your city, keep rocking it. You are one of the taste makers and leaders of the next generation. To you, the MLS fan who drags his friend to a game and buys him a beer, keep showing the light to those in the darkness. To you, the annoying Facebook poster who posts highlights of MLS games and ‘Goals of the Week’ that your friends secretly watch and enjoy but don’t ever comment or like, keep hitting that share button. Your posts are just as valid as the dude posting about what his frat is doing this weekend and the girl with the album of 287 duck face pictures from last night.
Seriously, a Wondo goal > all of the duck face pics in the world….except Alex…maybe.
To all my people spreading the gospel of the beautiful game, especially those of you not old enough to know what a cassette looks like but who bump Levels regularly (catchy isn’t it), keep doing your thing.
Soccer continues to rapidly grab prominence and credibility in the US. We will lead this country to greatness, not on the pitch (unless our men’s league counts, which certainly multiple teams think we are playing for the World Cup every time out), but as a country of rabid, well educated soccer fans who support their national league and team fervently.
The time will soon come when ESPN will show MLS highlights and have educated commentators (GASP!) on SportsCenter with legitimate highlight analysis. Until then, know that the younger generation loves the game as much as you do and has your back. Even if dubstep doesn’t.