15 January 2007

The Geeks in the Stands: An Unlikely Alliance of Sport and Subculture

About a year ago when Kali from RSL blog visited Our Nation's Capital, there was a discussion about the kinds of people you see at soccer venues. For whatever reason, we were talking about whether or not Soccer fans tend to be geekier than other types of fans. Joe from We Call It Soccer was the one who was willing to say it straight out. As I recall, he said "No doubt, some of us are out-and-way-out nerds." It was, I should admit, said with a certain degree of awkwardness. There was a quick look around to make sure that none of us would qualify for that characterization before we all hastened to agree. It's true: Soccer attracts a certain degree of dorkism. And, to be honest, Kali, Joe, and I were probably closer to being in that category than any of us were willing to admit.

I've been meaning to write about that for some time, and Througball gave me the reason. Josh at Throughball notes that Fox Soccer is advertising on Lifehacker, and he writes: "I'm struggling to make the connection between one of the most popular blogs for geeks (including yours truly) and an all-soccer channel. FSC must have seen some convincing demographics."

Perhaps they have. There were tongues wagging when Slate wrote about soccer becoming the sport of choice of the "intellectual". Of course, they were writing primarily about European soccer, but the point remains. There is something of a geek aesthetic to soccer supporters across these United States (and for which the Barra mocks the Eagles). But, in DC's loud side at least, it isn't just the geeks. It's a hybrid of the geeks, the refugees from DC's hardcore scene, and the strong ethnic supporters from Europe and the Americas. It's a strange conglomeration, the kind depicted previously only by a handful of cyberpunk writers.

Now, the temptation in such thinking is to think that one could align MLS with the "Geek Culture Ascendant" meme that's been propagating the last five or so years. That The Lord of the Rings box office take bodes favorable for soccer in America. I caution against such thoughts. Even if Slashdot were to establish a Sports category that dotes on MLS, there's no reason to think that this indicates a leading edge change that will soon filter into the mainstream consciousness. For every Peter Jackson raking in the cash there is a Joss Whedon who comes close but is ultimately cancelled before acceptance by a larger audience.

Still, my experience, from what I can see, is that there is more acceptance by geek culture of soccer than most professional sports. I wonder "Why is that?" and I'm also wondering "What does it mean?" I don't have good answers, but the questions are, I think, interesting ones.

Quick Afterthought: Of course, the Beckham signing is a nice point in opposition, since that is quite a fashionable move. Hmmmm....

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At 15 January, 2007 13:44, Blogger Jarrett said...

Interestingly, soccer was always the blue collar sport in England while Rugby was the sport of the intelligentsia

At 15 January, 2007 23:28, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but that's why the Beckham signing is so big, and why other teams than LA suddenly started selling season tickets... MLS goes mainstream, basically.

At 19 May, 2018 01:56, Blogger Unknown said...

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Strikingly, soccer was dependably the manual game in England while Rugby was the game of the scholarly people


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