I haven’t done this before but I love berating the opinions of others so I’m going to go through point and point and write why this article was a waste of time.
“It’s time for Major League Soccer to clean up its game. R-rated chants should not be welcome at a PG-rated sport.”
In this country, as long as there are actual fans in the seats there is no PG-rated sporting event. This isn’t Chuck E Cheese’s; this is a match in which supporters have emotional vested interest. There is a legitimate discussion that needs to take place in the American soccer community about the use of offensive chants but that discussion does not revolve around referees.
“What a perfect moment to introduce young people to the beautiful game…. Those youngsters got to see an ugly side of the sport and left with their ears ringing from the foul-mouth chants spewed out by a certain section of fans upset over a number of referee decisions.”
That “certain section” is the Barra Brava, D.C. United’s supporters’ group, and is the lifeblood of the league. Supporter’s Groups are the reason why attendance has swelled in MLS (making MLS 8th in the world) and they deserve the praise of the league’s fans. Perhaps Supporter’s Groups across the country have also earned the scorn of over protective suburban soccer moms but SG members are season ticket holders while the author of this article is talking about a parent taking his or her children to a soccer game for the first time. If it came down to it, the league would have to choose season ticket holding fans over mildly interested families attending their first game.
“Do these type of organized R-rated chants take place at baseball, basketball, hockey, and gridiron football games? I don’t know.”
The answer to that is quite simply, yes. In any given game in any number of sports in America when a refereeing official makes a bad call, it is not unusual for the crowd to yell ‘Bullshit’ in unison. I have witnessed and participated in much worse chants about the referees at a Buffalo Sabres hockey game. The difference between soccer and other sports is the use of organized chants instead of a child hearing hundreds of individuals slinging obscenities towards the referees.
“Would a young person watching a referee face such abuse be encouraged to take up the referee’s whistle?”
Does a “Fuck You Ref” chant discourage prospective referees more than a “You Suck Asshole” chant discourages kids from becoming goalkeepers? This point is just irrelevant and the author plugged it in to distract from the fact that he has no real argument.
“How about protecting and respecting our young people and fellow fans in the stands? Commissioner Don Garber are you listening?”
Is it not the responsibility of league commissioner or other fans (especially the supporters’ groups) to shield sheltered young people from hearing foul language. Why should it be my duty to do some parent’s job? This is just a cop-out for crappy and lazy parents. Hearing language is one thing, repeating it is another. If you, as a parent, can’t prevent your own child from copying any behavior he observes then the problem is not what comes out of my mouth at a soccer game.
I recently lived in Mexico for five months. While I was there I attended several Puebla FC (first division) and Lobos BUAP (second division) soccer games. Mexican soccer games are pretty notorious for the widespread use of obscene chants during opposition goal kicks. When the other team’s goalkeeper takes the kick, fans throughout the stadium yell ‘Puto’, which can mean bitch but also implies a question of manhood and masculinity. At the first game I attended, I felt weird yelling offensive terms while I was sitting near or around children. During that first Lobos BUAP game there were children sitting in the row in front of me and I was shocked to see them participating in the chant along with their parents. The whole family took part in berating the opposition. After that I realized that behavior at sporting events was not necessarily indicative of those people’s behavior in daily life. Children can hear or even participate in obscene yelling at a soccer game without turning into juvenile delinquents.
This issue has also come up at Rochester Rhinos games this season. When our star player, J.C. Banks, was issued a second yellow for a foul on an Orlando City player who dove, the stadium rang with the chant “Bullshit.” Less than ten minutes later, the player who drew the foul against Banks was himself sent off. The same people yelled “Asshole” at the Orlando player. I looked around and could see some children and parents looking nervous about the spontaneous fountain of hatred. All of this was in the general seating sections.
During an earlier match I sat with the Supporters’ Group, the Stampede, in their section. Despite the fact that the section was in a corner (the home side goal has no stands behind it) and that there were no children in the section or close in the next section, event staff tried to stop obscene chants. ‘Sparrow’, a song that includes the line ‘shit on the bastards below’, motivated a security officer to approach the group about stopping. And stop is exactly what they did. The next game the Stampede was nowhere to be found. Even though several players and other spectators publicly praised the Supporters’ Group for the atmosphere it created, the club staff was unwilling to work with the Stampede and the rest of the games this season were eerily silent.
The lack of a Supporters’ Group made Rochester Rhinos games less exciting and this lack of atmosphere was noticeable. Supporters’ Groups can actually make general seating sections more family friendly. With the exception of outlying situations, such as the refereeing controversies of the past week, allowing a section for rowdy and passionate fans to sit means that an overprotective soccer mom can better insulate her sheltered children from the obscene horrors of foul language. This has not happened in Rochester but the rise of SG culture in MLS is a tremendous positive for the league and should not be dismantled for the sake of the casual family spectators.