Vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake is a poor excuse for cheering
I’ve been to a fair number of New York Red Bulls games over the past two year. I have always been impressed by the South Ward and its rabid supporters. More often than not, I’ve found the arena to be empty with the exception of one massive four-section area to the right of my seat in press row. I have lauded their performances time and time again both in game on twitter and in every day conversation.
And yes, I laughed at “You Suck, A------“ the first few times I heard it.
Red Bulls supporters make RBNY. I’ve always been a believer in “it’s all about us, the fans.” But at the end of the day, we’re guests at Red Bull Arena, and it’s time to end the crass cheering that comes off as an underwhelming example of what a bunch of teenagers can come up with when “groupthink” takes over.
Of course, most fans seem worried that RBA could become a soccer mom haven – one devoid of crazed fans, loud cheers and a legitimate home field advantage. But it’s important to remember that the Red Bulls can’t be happy to just have 4,000 fans in the South end of the stadium. The old front office was ripped for failing to properly market the team to the New York area, and now you have one that is making an effort, we’re arguing about semantics?
It is fair to argue that you paid for your ticket and have supported the team through over a decade of trophy-less seasons. I respect Red Bulls hard core fans above those of other New York sports franchises because they are the loudest from first kick to full time whistle and they have yet to be rewarded with a championship. While you buy the tickets, buoy the ratings, buy the gear, and support the team to victory in Harrison, you aren’t the only people that bought tickets. If you think you are that far above another fan’s experience because they are coming to their first (or even tenth) game, you're the reason soccer has remained a niche sport in the United States best known for orange eating at halftime and popsicles after the match. Don’t shake your finger at new soccer fans, it comes off as snobbish and a turn off to potential fans. When all is said and done, if they join the soccer cause, we all win.
The laughable “censorship” reasoning I continuously see is in many ways disturbing. There are two primary issues with this idea. First, it’s used completely out of context. Trying to place the “YSA” cause in the pantheon of censorship still exhibited around the world comes off as crocodile tears from a kid sent to timeout for saying a bad word. The idea that we can’t use obscene language – a standard enforced in NHL, NBA, and MLB stadiums – should be a natural expectation, not a team enforced rule. Second, this is hardly the first form of censorship you’ve experienced at a sporting event. Go ahead and streak across the field in the first half or yell “fire” in the middle of any crowded area. Odds are, you’ll spend your evening locked up, and no judge is going to give credence to “censorship”. The rules of the game are simple, as they usually are, so why does this need to be so difficult?
Further, yelling “YSA” after a goal kick just isn’t creative or clever, and it’s largely beneath the fans that make the game atmosphere more than worth the price of admission. I would honestly go to a game where the Red Bulls physically don’t show up just to go hear the raucous nature of the South Ward. So why lower yourself to some cheap shot at the opposing keeper that likely does nothing to rattle him at this point? Go find something original, stop using vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake.
Look, I know the players see both sides. I see both sides. You probably see both sides. But if you’re as tired of half-sold Red Bull Arena as I am, don’t be selfish enough to exclude the population that brings their kids to Harrison. The Red Bulls approach hasn’t been perfect. Frankly, their approach is a bribe, which rubs me the wrong way. Still, they are making every effort to make it worth your while, especially when RBNY would likely kick out any unaffiliated fan doing the exact same thing.
Swallow some pride, get over this largely insignificant tiff, and get ready for an outstanding match at Red Bull Arena against Montreal tonight. That’s what we should all be talking about right now, anyways, right? I’ll see you there.
Mike Watts covers the New York Red Bulls (MLS) and New York Rangers (NHL) for WFUV Sports.