Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mixed feelings

Chivas USA and LA Galaxy players observe a moment of silence for the victims of Sept. 11 before their match.

I first fell in love
with soccer in Argentina, and I have to confess that it's probably created a bias in me about some things. I have an appreciation for quick, precise passing, tricky plays and that extra bit of magic on the field that can turn a game. I have a soft spot for Juan Toja's hair.

However, some of the things I was exposed to also created an extreme dislike. I hate cheating in any sport. I don't understand how Scott French can be a Barry Bonds fan. I don't think the "Hand of God" was a cute sort of cheekiness - I think less of Maradona and for that matter, Messi, for ever doing that.

I enjoy confetti showers from fans in the stands, strea
mers flying and cheering. I adore chants that mock, are clever, and get a crowd singing along. It's great to hear fans from different teams go back and forth with cheers. Banners and flags are marvelous.

I detest anything that stops a game. Leave it off the field. Never throw anything that could harm a player (Toronto fans know how much I dislike stuff being thrown on to the field). I was probably more bugged about the s
moke bombs on the field in the last match than the Galaxy players were. Most of them just shrugged it off.

Every time I read about the latest violent incident in Argentina's soccer stadiums, it saddens me to think of how the country that introduced me to soccer is sinking to a place where fans are fenced off from each other and the field, where visitors don't feel safe bringing women or children, and where blatant hate is almost condoned as sporting pride and people die because of it.

It simply sucks.
It does make me appreciate, though, that I live in the U.S., where I try to never miss a Dodgers/Cubs game because I have such a good time with my Chicago area friends. They'll be about fifty strong in their Cubs gear, with me in my old Dodger shirt, and we'll have a good old time. They razz me, and Dodger fans give the whole group grief, but everyone is there to have a good time.

So when I first read about
problems with Chivas USA and Galaxy supporters, my heart sank. I was at the game, and from my vantage point, I was proud of both groups. I took pictures of the Legion 1908 unfurling their flags, but my camera battery ran out right then. It was too bad, because one of the memorable sights of the night for me was the Riot Squad standing with their scarves held overhead. All was lost for their team at that point, late in the game, but they were still showing their support. I thought, "That's how it should be. Two teams, two groups of fans representing."

It's ironic to think that some of those same scarves I admired might have been pulled away from their owners later that night.
I don't think that's heroic in any way. Taunts are one thing, but getting physical is another, and that's where I draw the line. I don't think verbal provocation justifies physical violence. Where would we be as a civilization if we attacked every person who ever disagreed with or insulted us? That goes for both sides, because I wasn't there to see what really happened.

This was a Chivas USA home game, however, and both the organization and the stadium itself bear responsibility for keeping all fans safe during their events. I don't think danger is "cool" or "European" or "finally, some passion in MLS". I think anyone getting hurt is crap the league doesn't need.


JT (Chicago) said...

Amen AC. Amen.

adam said...

Eloquently stated.

Joel Aceves said...

The Quiet Squad standing with their scarves held overhead is weak sauce.

I for one am glad to see that they are getting owned in the stands, they should just join the mom and pop Galaxians group.

Anonymous said...

Well AC, I agree completely with you. However, I don't think this is just a soccer phenomenon. Sport has been taken to new level of violence around the globe and including the US.

Was it not last year when Dodger fans stabbed a Giants fan in the bleachers of Dodger stadium. Also, a Giants fan stabbed a Dodger fan outside AT&T park a couple years back.

Of course this type of stuff is buried in the media for reasons I don't know. College campuses and the cities of professional sports teams have also introduced a new way of celebrating a championship by rioting in the streets.

I remember the riots after the Lakers last victories and Detroit as well. After college teams win, I can recall several campus riots.
The media has a tendency to pin this on soccer and I don't think that is fair.


Anonymous said...

Hey It's "weak sauce" of us. How about you people buy your own banners instead having your FO buy them for you. You, the rest of your fans and the organization are nothing but a bunch of scum.

Josh said...

Well said AC.

Mr. Aceves,

Your thoughts are incisive and arresting. Your deft command of the nuances of the English language (allowing you to juxtapose the word "Riot" into the rhyming "Quiet" for an interesting and arresting implication of meaning) display an acumen for linguistic dexterity that is surpassed only by the density of thought and meaning packed into each word of your epistle.

Ms. Canales must feel quite humbled to be upstaged on her own forum by your sage, analytic prose. You sir are a credit to the East side of Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

Ummm there are some serious class issues going on b/w LAG fans and those of Chivas USA. That can only lead to more betterness. Maybe the two groups should do some join charity events together to build better relations between the two.

HDC would be wise to put more cameras up and have security posted in sections of the parking lot. If it hasn't already been done.

Eric Jasso said...

I've been to matches in Europe and Mexico. the ONLY time I have ever sensed a bit of dread was last year at the SuperClassico. My wife and our four kids entered at the gate closest to the parking lot, eight through a bunch of Chivas fans. My daughters scarf was pulled more than once, and the crowd did all the chanting and yelling they could to intimidate us. My daughter was a bit freaked...once we got through the crowd my wife asked "WTF was that?" It didn't ruing the game (Galaxy owned Chivas!) but it made it a bit less enjoyable.

Shooter said...

We know what happened. People continue to stir the pot with their comments even though they have no clue.

I hope you can make lunch, tomorrow. You do the best job reporting what really happens.

This is my first post on this blog and I invited A.C. to lunch.

Wonder how that will go over in Peoria ? Thanks for what you do!

FC Uptown said...

Agree with the post and the statements. That being said, smoke bombs look so awesome on tv and add a ton to watching a game and the atmosphere. I would vote to allow them.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in East LA and I am a Galaxy fan. What pisses me off is the crap that goes on during the Chivas home games. Even though the attendace is half of the Galaxy home games there are twice as many incidents at the games, Chivas fans know that's true.

Once I bought tickets for my dad to a Interliga match and he is a Chivas fan by the way. He had to come home during half time because of all the crap that went on. I never in ten years of going to Galaxy games ever had to do that.