Monday, May 5, 2008

Streaming silly

An email reader wants me to take Mike Wilbon to task over criticizing TFC fans for throwing streamers onto the field during corner kicks, but I think Wilbon is right.
I love atmosphere at games, but I hate anything being thrown on to the field. TFC fans aren't being original in this - the Legion 1908 of Chivas USA has a streamer ritual towards the goal near the end of every home match.
Thing is, I've seen Brad Guzan fight his way through streamers when trying to catch a cross - and he didn't look happy about the "support" from the fans.
I've watched TFC matches where the team needed only a goal to win or draw late in the game and fans were still throwing streamers to the opposition corner kicker, eating up clock time that their squad could presumably use to score.
I hate, hate, anything outside the field of play physically affecting the game. The emotional impact of fan support doesn't need to be translated into stuff flying out from the stands. The streamer shower almost always delays the match. What's a few seconds lost in return for atmosphere?, some might ask, but I really fail to see the point. Plus, I think it sets a bad precedent to throw anything on to the field - streamers today, something heavier and more painful in the future, perhaps. Cheer, jeer, sing, but don't detract from the game. It's a turn-off to me to watch players pick streamers off from the corner arc. I want to see soccer being played.
Granted, some people throw confetti after goals - I'm ok with that because the action stops for a bit after goals anyway, since a team celebrates scoring.
I remember asking Kevin Hartman about streamers and he pointed out that he didn't mind confetti, but streamers often didn't unroll and just remained on the field. His worry was that a defender, who often backs up while watching an attacker instead of where one is stepping, could turn an ankle or knee by stepping on the lumpy streamer roll. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it's not a valid concern.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

You mean like flares from Legion in the derby last year or bottles from the Legion at the Chicago game last season?

A.C. said...

Random bottles have been thrown from different fans and/or groups before. In MLS, TFC and the Legion are the only ones I know of who do a planned streamer shower.

Anonymous said...

Streamers are fine, but I do agree that interfering with the on-field play sets a bad precedent. The league hasn't said anything about it yet, but all that needs to happen is for a player to trip and twist or break a body part before the MLS puts a stop to it.

I think at this point the MLS might be a bit afraid to stop anything TFC does because the atmosphere and attendance has been great. Plus no players have been vocal about their dislike of the streamers. Reyna's comments after the game seem to support the use of them.

A.C. said...

With the reputation the sport has in some places, the last thing soccer players want to do is be accused of being wimpy or afraid of anything. Reyna is already criticized for being delicate; he probably doesn't want to be portrayed as a complainer.

Anonymous said...

Andrea, I totally totally agree with everything you said about the streamers. It looks bush league, has the potential to be dangerous & needs to be nipped in the bud.

CACuzcatlan said...

Houston throws a lot of streamers too.

FC Uptown said...

Streamers dangerous? Pleasssse. Those nuts throwing bottles should be policed, but streamers are fine. Most dangerous risk to the player's health is that crap underneath their feet in Utah, NY, NE, Toronto and upcoming in Seattle. Maybe we should compare the amount of players injured by streamers versus the number of players injured by artifical turf from 1996 until now. ...Lol.

Stephen said...

I completely agree and would only add that the other thing that i hate about it is that it looks so minor league. No one would ever get away with throwing something on the field in any other professional sport in the U.S. They'd be escorted out of the park. It makes MLS look amateur.

Anonymous said...

Please don't compare this to other sports. You are the kind that probably wants TV time-outs in the middle of the game as well. And if someone rolls an ankle of a streamer, they should not be on the pitch...those would be some weak ankles...

Anonymous said...

"I completely agree and would only add that the other thing that i hate about it is that it looks so minor league."

I have to agree with this. I remember last year, a friend of mine who is a very casual soccer fan (watches only the World Cup, occasional Champion's League games) watched MLS for the very first time in years and it so happened to the LA vs. TFC game at BMO. He was so turned off by the streamers that he asked me the next day if that's how all MLS games are now. When I told him it wasn't, he seemed a bit relieved but then commented on how if that became the norm in the MLS he would never watch a game again cause it looks bush league.

Larry said...

I completely agree! I was present at a Galaxy-Chivas game (the only MLS game in which John O'Brien made an appearance) during which Chivas fans through 30-40 crepe streamers over the crossbar and around Hartman while Chivas was attacking. Hartman was moving laterally through this junk that formed a tent extending out into the 6 yd box. The ball was taken to the goal line and cut back to Razov who scored while Hartman was scuffing through all the junk and sweeping it out of his line of sight. I am not a Galaxy fan, but they deserved a break on that one. Actually, shame on the ref for not stopping the game or calling the goal back.

Glen said...

Streamers are not needed in MLS, I believe it makes the league look very amateurish. The league has grown a great deal and is gaining some respect and this just sets it back in my opinion. Of course TFC fans are the worst and that game between the LAG and them last season was embarrassing. Next item on the table, decent ref's!!!

FC Uptown said...

Streamers "bush league"?? You mean like when River and Boca play? (Btw, how anybody can rip Toronto fans is truly unbelievable...)

http://www.footballingworld.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/riverboca2.JPG

A.C. said...

Boca and River fans have been known to be physically violent with each other, too. There's a reason why there are fences around the field of play in those stadiums. Do you want that in MLS?
Just because TFC fans are in general great doesn't make everything they do something good.

FC Uptown said...

AC, has there been anyone injured in Toronto because of streamers? Is security not on top of this issue in Toronto or other MLS stadiums? Have you seen the danger of streamers first hand in Toronto? Why is Toronto so guilty all of a sudden? The rules prohibit bottles from being thrown in all MLS stadiums just like the other leagues, and when bottles are thrown, people are arrested and kicked out. The law should be followed and enforced with no exceptions. Do you not think stadium security has strong enough rules? HDC has admitted having some challenges in this area and has been working on fixing them, successfully, from what I've read. I have not heard similar tales out of Toronto. At this point, I don't see a reason for additional rules for Toronto or the rest of the league. I do see a need for more stringent security at HDC and more knowledge about soccer fans for security at all stadiums. I also don't sense an overwhelming fear of streamers coming from the players - in fact most relate the opposite opinion and like the partisan crowd. Rules are there to be followed, and security needs to be allowed to do their job. I guess I don't understand what you are arguing - a ban of all streamers and confetti? Just streamers? What would you have done when Toronto fans launched the seat cushions? Kicked out the whole stadium?

Anonymous said...

It's astonishing to me that there are people who think it's OK to throw some things onto the field merely because they are less dangerous to the players than other things that might be thrown at them.

There is no justification for any fan ever to interfere with play. And to interfere with an opponent's play is precisely the reason why fans throw streamers.

Anyone throwing a streamer should be ejected by stadium security personnel. Throwing a bottle (or anything else more substantial than a streamer) is plainly an assault and should be treated by the police as such. And if the fans participating in such behavior are too numerous to make ejection or arrest a meaningful solution, rather than risk injury to the players, the referee should either abandon the game or forfeit the game (if the home team has plainly abdicated its crowd-control responsibilities).

Jon E said...

Yeah, I love that everybody at TFC games is so enthusiastic, so I hate to harsh on the buzz. But I agree with AC. Throwing streamers interferes with the game physically and slows the game down needlessly, and the unrolled streamers create at least a potential hazard.

My sense is that the league doesn't want to alienate TFC fans, so I think the best thing to do would be to have the club--maybe even the players--ask the fans to stop. MLS can make it official policy after that.

A.C. said...

I thought the seat cushion incident was bad, and the fact that MLS management didn't come down harder on the fans for that probably set the current precedent. Fire players specifically mentioned that those cushions hurt, too.
Fans have been banned from stadiums and their teams have played in front of empty stands because of racial insults, which technically don't harm players physically.
Do you want Toya to step on a streamer coil and wrench his knee in a fall before you'll even recognize the potential danger? Yes, I've seen stadium security at TFC clear out the unrolled streamers, but if the run of play happens in that corner immediately after, there's no time to clear.
Why is is such a big deal to you or any TFC fan to fight for this aspect, either? Are they such weak supporters that eliminating this one behavior would ruin the fan experience for them and drive them from the game? They don't actually come to watch the match - they come to throw streamers? The other stuff is cool - keep doing that, but keep junk that could hurt players off the field. I guess I'm a purist, but I consider the pitch a little sacred and think it should be treated as such.

A.C. said...

I meant Toja, not Toya.

FC Uptown said...

AC, no players have gotten hurt from streamers. Not one. If I'm wrong on this, please correct me. Even if you banned streamers for being unsafe (despite evidence to the contrary), a fan could still throw his plastic beer bottle and still hit a player. A streamer rule isn't going to change that. So what is the point of a streamer ban if it would have no effect on the potential danger you refer to?

Now if you don't like streamers because they delay the game, well, yes they do. Ban them for that reason.

East River said...

I support the players. If the players are having a problem with this then I don't have a problem with it. But slippy slope argumentes are a low blow here. Unitl people start doing worst fearing more dangerous objects is just unfair. You are just against because you don't like and are trying to use whatever you can find to justify it being banned. Trying to stop low risk of injury streamers is just a silly way to confirm to the other American sports. Sit down, be quiet, and an enjoy a beer with family. I don't care if people see it as "bush league" we shouldn't live our lifes by what other think.

A.C. said...

FC, I'd ban them for both reasons. I think it's silly to say that we have to wait for an actual injury when the potential is clearly there. And, like my Hartman example, some players have in fact pointed that out.

A.C. said...

I also think it's a strange argument - "We shouldn't ban streamers due to potential injury because other sports will think we're wimps." combined with "We don't care what other sports do, and that they respect the run of their sport's play more than we do."

East River said...

The we shouldn't ban them b/c others will think we are whimps is not my argument at all. Its just such a minor issue that few players have complained about. Your complaint is actually more about your enjoyment of the game not about player safety thats just your justification. Next poeple will complain about player celebrations being butch league or slowing the game. Many people have a problem with that sort of thing in the NFL and NBA. But players enjoy it and so do many fans. Lets ban things that are real problems not because of ones preferences. Throwong streamers on corner kicks and goals are not really stopping the run of play since both are basicly stoppegies in the first place.

I would much rather see MLS ban games in 96 plus weather. As I'm much more afraid of an MLS dieing from heat exhausation then someone tripping on some loose flimsy paper.

FC Uptown said...

The basic argument that streamers injure players is not backed up by any evidence in the past 13 years of MLS play, hundreds of games, and thousands of players in dozens of stadiums in many very hostile environments. Show me the evidence where a streamer from a fan injured a single player and then I can reconsider the argument here. But without any evidence of a single case of injury, there isn't much of a case for a league wide banning streamers for being unsafe.

You mention the run of play being interupted. Did that hamper your enjoyment of the TFC-NY game? I would argue that most fans enjoyed watching the energy of the fans and did not notice any few seconds of delay.

I think much of this is just sour grapes regarding Toronto and their homefield advantage.

If you want to complain about a league wide health and safety issue, take one look at artificial turf. Those injuries are quantifiable and real.

Jim said...

At least it is not Boca/River as mentioned before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQjeJ2oe30k

However the best way to stop it, is by delaying the game. I saw Claudio Reyna take his sweet old time setting up a corner. I guess the TFC fans would rather watch a garbage man pick up their garbage than watch their team on the field (not suggesting that Claudio is a garbage man). Everyone should just take their time cleaning up every last streamer. What can MLS officials do about it anyway? Is it a delay of game penalty or could you get away with it?

sharkboy said...

“You mention the run of play being interupted. Did that hamper your enjoyment of the TFC-NY game? I would argue that most fans enjoyed watching the energy of the fans and did not notice any few seconds of delay.” To be honest, it did bother me a bit. Not so much as to call for an all out ban of streamers, but it was annoying. Once the mess was cleaned up, a second wave of streamers came down. Seriously, is that necessary? I love the streamers being thrown in celebration of a goal, but to distract the players in the run of play is horrible. I want to say bush league, but other “more prominent” leagues around the world do it, so I don’t see that argument.

What MLS should do is give the referees the authority to stop play if a mass amount of streamers are being tossed during the run of play. In Hartman’s case, the ref should have stopped the game DURING Chivas’ attack to clear the streamers. The fans would have bitched and moaned, but it’s their fault. If the refs have to continuously have to stop the game to clean up a mess, the fans will regulate themselves or the team would intervene if it ruined the momentum or disallowed a goal or two. If it’s a corner kick for an opposing team, such as Claudio Reyna in Toronto, the ref should stop the game, and add time on the clock after the 90. There is no need for the league to call for an all out ban on streamers, that would be bush league. Besides, its not like it happens at every game in every city.

As for the slippery slope argument of “possible injuries” its really absurd. I agree with FC Uptown on this one, there is no evidence of this being career threatening anywhere in the world, in any sport. And seriously, if this is MLS’s biggest concern, they have not been paying attention to the refs and the field turf games. Streamers are (or should be) lowest on the totem pole of issues.

A.C. said...

I didn't like the streamers last year, and said so, when TFC had little home field advantage to speak of.
I've very clearly said that I watch soccer to see soccer, not to see party paper hold up a game.
I have not had a single person who watched TFC matches with me tell me they were impressed with the streamers on corners. In fact, many have told me the opposite, though they complimented chants and songs.
At least one player with River/Boca experience doesn't care for streamers - asking his own fans to stop - From Bernardo Fallas' blog on the Crew/Dynamo game:
"Barros-Schelotto pleads with the Crew fans to stop the streamer madness on a Dynamo corner kick. Brad Davis just took the ball and walked away from the area. Crew fans seemed to have been inspired by their Toronto friends."

A.C. said...

It's fine with me if others ignore potential injury possibilities. I have to admit that I didn't think about that aspect of it until Hartman pointed that out to me. Once he did, it made sense.
A lot of things that seem like harmless fun can turn out differently.

CACuzcatlan said...

I'm against streamers because it interferes with the game. I guess that's OK on corner kicks according to you guys. But I like to see the pitch clear of all foreign objects. Remember what happened with Man City and the balloon? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-4AKL_YGAw

And when Guzan or Hartman are getting streamers thrown on them during the run of play it changes the outcome. Even if the other team doesn't score, it changes how the keepers react to the situation. I say ban all streamers from the field. If you want to have them in the stands, that's fine, but not on the field.

papa bear said...

FC Uptown: you're arguments are ridiculous. Did you have to stab yourself in the chest before you stopped running with scissors? C'mon already.
Also, the NY vs. TFC match sucked. I mean it really sucked. The streamers only added to the further suckage. It causes a big lull in the game and doesn't nothing to the other team as they will just sit there and not take the corner until the crap is cleared and I think we both know that the full amount of stoppage time won't be added. With TFC often playing from behind it makes little sense.

Also, mark my words, as soon as these games start meaning more, some one will go down with a real or phantom injury from something wrapped up in the streamer roll.

One final note, those who keep pointing out Boca laying out streamers, show me one video during the run of play of them tossing those streamers on the field. Tossing streamers in pre-game, before the second half and after the game are great. Holding up the game so you can put on your color guard routine just sucks.

A.C. said...

Oh, yeah, papa bear reminded me of an important distinction. I do love streamers to decorate the stands. I've lived in Argentina before, and though a streamer would sometimes break off and drift across the field, that wasn't the intention - they certainly weren't tossed right at players at specific times, either.

Anonymous said...

You are comparing running with scissors and streamers. That is really messed up. I am a purist as well. I don't see anything wrong with it. There are greater issues (turf field, playing on freaking American Football Fields, some attendance issues for certain teams, etc). The streamers are not hurting anyone and it adds to the atmosphere of the game. I know many people that like it (who are casual fans)...

A.C. said...

Evidently, a lot of us will have to agree to disagree on this issue.

Anonymous said...

The argument that it's ok to throw streamers during corners is fine because the game is stopped anyway is a very poor one. Corners are a vital part of the game, and lead to scoring opportunities, by physically interfering with the set piece play the fans are creating an unfair advantage for their team. Could you imagine if fans started throwing in streamers at NBA players during in-bound passes? The game is stopped at that point as well, so should it be ok? Do you think the players and the league would be ok with that?

A.C. said...

Honestly, though, if a team is looking to steal a road point in a tied game, and is taking a nice long time with a corner kick (conveniently using the streamers as an excuse), I'm not sure it's such an advantage for the home team. Jason Kreis was grousing to the media recently about not being granted the full 70 seconds left in stoppage time to go for the winning goal.
TFC fans cost their team more than that amount of time by holding up play on corner kicks. In those cases, I'm not sure their actions benefit their squad at all.

Anonymous said...

bottom line, nothing should ever be allowed to be thrown on the field. anyone that thinks things should be allowed to be thown is kidding themselves that someone cant get hurt. i realize the chance is low, but how would you feel if your star player sustained an eye injury and missed the season? and to say that can't happen, yes it can. the chance is low, but it can happen. additionally, how many times have you seen your teams goalie interfered with by la legion timeing their throws to interfere with the stopping of a shot? that is just wrong period.
DMH

Rich21 said...

I have to agree with the majority. No matter what the sport you should not be allowed to throw objects on the field while play is in session. If you want to throw streamers after a goal then so be it. Even as a Galaxy fan I'm not crazy about how they shoot off confetti after goals because the confetti always gets on the field.

I watch the BPL/EPL (whatever you want to call it) and you NEVER see streamers thrown on the field.

BTW, throwing streamers at your own goalkeeper has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. Then again this is the same group that picks fights with their own fans just because they're part of a different supporters group. But that's another topic for another day. ;-)

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