2010-2011 Season was one of Major League Soccer. And by that, I mean I went to two games. Quite a leap up from the zero I had going before now. [I went to one Reál Salt Lake game a few years ago on a date, but I was honestly too distracted/unnerved by the pounding, screaming, clapping Go Big or Go Home cheer zone at the far end of the stadium that I only vaguely remember the game. I had a big crush on my date too, I remember that. Not so helpful now.]
The first game, marking my return to soccer was on the dime of the law firm representing the Sounders. The one semester I worked for BYU catering (and two football games I wasn't assigned to the dishroom), I worked in the white tents outside the stadium set up for the bigwig donors and sports fanatics. I thought that was fancy. At CenturyLink Field, Sounders Club fans get a full spread before the game, peach cobbler and hot dogs at half time, and more ginger ale than one could ever know what to do with.
Someone else's class shot of confetti!
Besides the pita sandwiches and shepherd's pie, and the action-packed 100 minutes (including more injury time than I think was really necessary) of play, my favorite part about the game was confetti. Every time the Sounders score (3 times this time), huge confetti machines shoot blue and silver through the air. It rained on the 36,070 people in the stadium 9no idea where I got that number) and what made it to the field left the tattered-looking turf sparkling in the afternoon sun. Who cares if you don't like sports, is there a person on earth who does not get excited by confetti?
I don't have to settle for just confetti, even though I would, because I do enjoy watching soccer. While I understand many Americans' complaints that soccer is like watching a really long, very expensive game of playground keep-away (especially when the ball gets stuck in no-mans land mid-field with wussy players who can't seem to kick long without turning the ball over), this is ultimately what makes it so accessible. Most pro soccer players do wear cleats, and have above average in sex appeal, but in the end, stinky, barefoot 10-year-olds in the streets of Brazil and Benin are playing the same game David Beckham gets paid millions to play, and that we (or someone else, rather) pay to watch. There are few complicated rules, you can almost always tell where the ball is, anyone with decent lung capacity can play (so I guess I'm ruled out). Worldwide fun. Just not enough time for commercials.
"You suck asshole!"
My second game of the season came at the tail end of a Food Lifeline fundraiser where we passed out Sounders bags to fans while soliciting donations and Kicking Down Hunger, or something like that. One of my favorite things about professional sports are sports junkies, and how they seem to believe that their lives rely on the outcome of this game, or this kick, or goal, or whatever the case may be. Suffice it to say, the pre-game bag hand-out was full of my favorite kind of super fans.
I don't know if it's common among all sports or even all pro soccer teams to have elevated crowd participation from just cheering for the good to cheering for the good and booing for the unpleasant, then taking it up a notch and going from booing at bad calls and poor sportsmanship to chanting, all 30,000+ people in the stadium feedback like: YOU SUCK ASSHOLE!
Seriously? You suck asshole? Did the accountant, and college student, and nerdy mom behind me just shout that? I'm all for speaking your mind but, let's keep it together here, people. I was particularly aware of the bizarre poor sportsmanship echoing throughout the stadium my second game because I was there with my 12-year-old cousin who I'm sure is no stranger to profanity, but who I feel some desire to protect from potty-mouths.