|The Cowboy Blog|
"German soccer fans need some U. S. manners"
Response to the commentary published in the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 3
As being one of the initiators of Bundesliga soccer viewing at Cleos Chicago I am - of course - proud that one of the bars that I do the soccer scheduling and advertising for, was mentioned in the Chicago Tribune.
When you read the first paragraph of this article, you know there is a "BUT" coming. And yes, you are right. And no, you are wrong. There are many "BUT"'s coming.
Comparing baseball with soccer is already a very questionable thing to start with. With American baseball you have a game, slow moving, with is meant to be an weekend or evening event for the whole family that lasts 3 hours on average. The song "Take me out to the ball game ..." explains it all and so does the need of the "7th-inning stretch" (which - if you have bad luck - is followed by the "14th-inning stretch, "21th-inning stretch" etc.). Not to mention that within three days you play multiple times against the opposing team. And no matter how bad your team performs, there is no relegation. As a fan you do not have to worry about the fact that your team with end up in the lower league. You are just not be able to extend the season into the play-off round.
With European league soccer you have a tense game, that is compressed into exactly two halves of 45 minutes. Every minute counts, it is supposed to be non-stop action and with players running up to 30 miles per hour the scoring within those 90 minutes is essential. You need enough of those 3 points that you can gain per game to ensure that you stay in your league, year after year. That means pressure for players and fans as well. I can say so much more about soccer but we all know it.
The difference in the games is only one part that explains the difference between the fan culture shown between European soccer fans and US baseball fans. There is more. While in Germany we are still rooted to the soil, the differences between provinces (or tribes) are far stronger than in the modern USA. As a northerner in Swabia for example, you will always be a fish head, no matter what. As a German in Chicago, I am just one of the many foreigners you meet on a daily basis. People in the US move more freely from one side of the country to the other, and when they do, they usually are accepted in a friendly manner. This culture allows one to choose a team even if it is not the local one. In a society where tribal differences are still visible (through customs, food and language barriers) it is logical that the fans of the home team are embracing these cultural differences and automatically are prone to more aggressive behavior.
In regards to the fan culture at Cleos, I would like to clear up that the reason why all soccer fans watch the games together, was the idea of one Englishman and one German. It has nothing to do with American fan culture. From the beginning we worked very hard to make sure that the pub does not become a "team pub" like there are many others in and around Chicago. The concept was to allow everyone to watch soccer at Cleos, that we the term "HOME OF INTERNATIONAL SOCCER" was used. The first official fan club established at Cleos was the "Hamburger SV Supporters Chicago", followed by the "Chicago Supporters of FC Bayern Munich" and the "BVB Dortmund Fans in Chicago" plus fan clubs of teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid. The Germans that meet at Cleos to watch soccer enjoy to watch soccer together. And yes, it takes visitors from Germany a moment to adjust to Cleos culture. But they are getting it.
After this clarification I would love to invite Robin Alexander, the author of "German soccer fans need some U. S. manners", to watch a soccer game with me at a team bar: The Atlantic Bar & Grill is a Tottenham supporters bar. Tottenham plays Sunderland on the September 13 at 9am. If Robin would wear a Sunderland jersey for the event, be assured that it will be a very short visit, as jerseys of the opposing team are usually not allowed at a "team bar".
In addition I would love to invite Robin, on the same day, to the Chicago Fire match against Toronto. We would watch the game in the fan section, where the fans are actually standing (and not sitting as in baseball games).
The German Cowboy
PS: For a little bit more info about me enjoy this article
The German Cowboy: Chicago's Freelance Soccer Ambassador
And yes, I do own a Schalke jersey with "COWBOY 57" too!