Life as a soccer fan in the US can be trying. For years supporters of the beautiful game in the United States have been treated like second class citizens, both by the international footballing world who doesn’t think we are good enough for their game, as well as by our own countrymen who have not yet found an appreciation for the sport. But despite the opposition, the popularity of soccer in the US has steadily been on the rise for years and there is no signs of it slowing down anytime soon. If 2015 was any indication its clear soccer in the US is here to stay. That is why I vow to unapologetically release the full extent of my fandom in 2016, and so should you!
Ruffneck Resolution 2016: Be the Ultimate Supporter
The thing about passion is that it is contagious. Perhaps the nay-sayers in your life just need an enthusiastic slap in the face to wake them up to the fact that they are totally missing out on awesomeness. So to help you on your 2016 journey to Super Supporter Status we’ve developed an all-inclusive Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Supporter.
Tip #1: Find a Team
Or two... I mean there is no rule that you can't have more than one favorite team (though we would suggest you keep them in seperate leagues). If you're reading this, you've probably got this part covered, but if not a great place to start would be the US national team. Then of course there is Major League Soccer which has expanded to 20 teams all over the states. The women's NWSL league, the United Soccer League, and National Soccer League to add dozens more options to the list. But that doesn't even cover NCAA college teams, semi-pro leagues, heck even local high school teams. It doesn't matter what team you follow, it only matters that you are committed to supporting them.
Tip #2: Dress the Part
Every time you don't wear team colors on match day a kitten cries... Okay, not really but dressing the part can make all the difference. Your clothes are the outward expression of your inner passion, they shout your support without you ever saying a word. Waking up and pulling on your jersey sets the tone for the whole day, and others who see your display of team pride will feed off of your energy.
No, face paint isn't over kill. Yes, matching socks are encouraged. No, we do not think its weird to have team themed undies...
Tip #3: Knowledge is Power
Dressing the part is easy, but once you peel back that outer layer hopefully there is something behind it (and now we are not talking about your USA skivvies). Get to know your team. Be proud of their history. Learn players names. Who is their coach? When is their next match? The more you know about the team the deeper invested you will be, and more you will ultimately enjoy the game. You will also be able to share your knowledge with others who may be curious but never had anyone to ask.
Tip #4: Get to a Match
If you truly stand with you team, then get to a match. There is no simpler way to show support than being present at a match. Its as simple as that. When a player, at any level, looks to the stands and sees them full of excited fans it is supporting in its truest form. There is also a much deeper connection to get the full stadium experience than watching a match on TV. To really be the best supporter you can be, you need to emerge yourself in the culture, and there is not better place to do so than at the match.
Tip #5: No One Likes a Mumbler
I will never forget my first time at a professional soccer match. It wasn't my first professional sporting event, I had been to a baseball game, basketball, even hockey but this was different. Our seats were way up in the nosebleeds, just about as high as you could get. It was a rivalry match and the stadium was packed, and though I was far from the supporters section I could still clearly hear the words they were chanting. It seemed like everyone knew the song and came together in one rough and unified voice. It was awesome! Before the next match I did my homework. I learned every word. I sang every song and still do. The best supporters aren't afraid to be loud.
Tip #6: Rock that Scarf
A Scarf is the Ultimate Supporters, ultimate accessory. Scarves have long been a tradition in soccer and one of the most recognizable symbols of team support. Hold them high, wave they round, wear them with pride.
Tip #7: The Grass Isn't Always Green
Losing is part of the game. Sometimes your team even loses when they obviously played a better match. Sometimes your team loses 7 straight games, and you feel like ripping your hair out would be less painful than watching another 90 mins. Sometimes being a supporter is hard, and then you get that win and you remember why its worth it. Supporting during the good times is easy. But true supporters stand out in the rain, when your team is down 2-0, still singing, holding their scarves high, proud to stand behind their boys.
Tip #8: Tip #: Enjoy it
Enjoy watching your team. Enjoy learning about the players. Enjoy being a part of the community. Have fun cheering for you boys (or ladies...). Don't let a loss squander your pride. Wear it, know it, sing it, feel it, and share it.
Tip #9: Everyday Can be Match Day
There is no reason that just because there isn't a match on that your support has to stop. Slap a sticker on your bumper, wear a logo t-shirt at the gym, bundle up in your scarf when you go out, hang that flag on your doorstep. Each little touch of team color will remind you throughout the day that you've got something to look forward to, there's supporting to do, and as the Ulitmate Supporter will continue to do your part to stand behind you team daily. __________________________________________