Why Supporting Your Local Soccer Team is Outdated

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 21: A Manchester United fan shows his support for the team during the game against the Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 21, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Manchester United won 1-0. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

In a perfect world, we all support our local professional soccer team. Not only do we support them, but we go see them play during the home games. We buy their merchandise and we follow them til the day we die. But I believe that idea is antiquated and undemocratic. Let me explain why.

After the recent Philadelphia Union game against Manchester United, readers on this site who were Manchester United supporters living in America were chastised by both Union and United fans for being supporters of the Red Devils. Union fans complained that the United supporters in the States should support their local MLS team. And the Man United supporters in England said the same thing too.

But who sets these rules? We all know that most of the Manchester United supporters in England don’t live in Manchester. So, should these supporters follow only their local team and be “forbidden” from supporting United? And for soccer fans living in the United States, is it fair that they should only support their local MLS team when they may not feel a bond with that team, may not live near them or may not see them on television that often? After all, in the case of Manchester United, the Red Devils are on television far more often than your average MLS side.

The reason that the old adage that ‘you should support your local team’ is out-of-date is because it doesn’t consider globalization. Nowadays, we may feel a closer affinity to a team, no matter what the sport, that is thousands of miles away because we see them on our television sets that are eight feet in front of us at all times. Whether you live in England, the United States or anywhere around the world, many of you probably support different teams from different countries and leagues. As just one example, Tyler Bleszinski, the founder of SB Nation, supports AS Roma, Oakland Athletics and New Jersey Devils. Each of those teams are thousands of miles away from each other.

I believe that it’s undemocratic for sports fans to be expected that they should support only their local team. It’s almost like a fascist regime that dictates what you can and cannot do. What if you born in Newcastle, a deeply passionate city, but you despise Mike Ashley, the owner of the club? Even though you disagree with the way he runs his business, do you have a choice? Obviously you do, but if you believe most people who insist that you should only support your local team, you have little choice for the rest of your life.

Just because you were lucky to be born and live near your team doesn’t give supporters a right to chastise everyone else around the world who supports that same team. Because you live closer to your team doesn’t make you a better and more knowledgeable supporter. A fan who lives in Lexington, Kentucky or Melbourne, Australia may be a much better supporter of your club and know more about them than you do.

And what’s supposed to happen to people like me who grow up supporting a team but then move away? When I grew up in Wales, I chose Swansea City as the team I supported not because they were the closest, because they were, because I fell in love with the club during their meteoric rise from the lower divisions to the top of the English football pyramid system. But because there were my local team, it was easier for me to see them. Most of my friends in Wales, however, supported other teams such as Manchester United and Leeds United. And they still do so until this day.

But when I moved to the United States when I was a teenager, was I supposed to leave my allegiances to Swansea City at the border? No matter what I was supposed to do, I still support Swansea and they’re still my favorite team. I’m quite a traditionalist in many ways, so while living in South Florida, I ended up supporting the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and, later, the Miami Fusion and – now – Miami FC. But for those MLS supporters who believe I should follow and support Major League Soccer, what is the connection that I have? None. I live 1,000 miles away from my nearest MLS team. So should I put on a DC United jersey and support them even though I have not one connection with Washington DC?

I understand that it’s important to support local soccer because otherwise how can local soccer survive if we’re all watching overseas clubs? But the reality for local teams, especially in Major League Soccer, is that they’re not competing with local markets anymore. They’re competing with globalization. So if they want to get butts on the seats in their stadium, they need to market their teams differently. Local allegiances are decreasing as globalization gets stronger and stronger. Why go see your local team play inferior soccer when you can see the best-of-the-best from around the world on your TV set?

The other argument I hear quite often that I find amusing is when people argue that how can fans of a club really be fans when they have never been to the club’s home ground? It’s a weak argument in my opinion because if we all had the money to do so, I’m sure we would all visit our club’s home ground as much as we would like. While it’s a dream of most supporters to go see their club play a home match in person, it’s impossible. With Manchester United, the estimates are that they have more than 330 million fans around the world. Old Trafford is a massive stadium but the club would have to play more than 4,000 home matches in a row and herd in a different 76,212 fans into each game to reach close to that number. Season ticket holders may be a little upset at this quandary.

So my argument is this. Go support your local soccer team, but don’t feel ashamed if you also support a team that is hundreds or thousands of miles away from you. In this day and age where we consume entertainment from around the world, we should not be told what we can or cannot do. We’ll support different teams for different reasons. Those reasons won’t always be because the team is the best. We’re not all gloryhunters. And for those English football fans that laugh in our faces because we pick teams, just ignore them. They don’t understand. The same applies to fans of MLS teams.

Support whatever teams you want and love them for your own reasons.

171 Comments

  1. Johnny July 31, 2010
    • Your missing the Point August 26, 2010
  2. Dools July 31, 2010
    • Poker Rakeback July 31, 2010
  3. Chris McQuade July 31, 2010
    • Dave C July 31, 2010
  4. Smokey Bacon July 31, 2010
    • Pyrooo July 31, 2010
      • Smokey Bacon July 31, 2010
      • Sigil July 31, 2010
        • Sigil July 31, 2010
        • Hurr July 31, 2010
    • E July 31, 2010
  5. tk July 31, 2010
  6. Marc July 31, 2010
    • Peter July 31, 2010
      • Marc July 31, 2010
        • Dave C July 31, 2010
          • Marc August 1, 2010
  7. jeneria July 31, 2010
  8. CTBlues July 31, 2010
    • soonerscotty July 31, 2010
      • CTBlues August 1, 2010
  9. adrian July 31, 2010
    • Duke July 31, 2010
    • kelly July 31, 2010
      • IanCransonsKnees August 1, 2010
        • kelly August 1, 2010
        • kelly August 1, 2010
        • Perry August 2, 2010
          • Perry August 2, 2010
          • IanCransonsKnees August 2, 2010
      • I Trust Severus Snape August 27, 2010
  10. Joe in Indianapolis July 31, 2010
  11. Irate Fan July 31, 2010
    • aol July 31, 2010
      • Irate Fan July 31, 2010
        • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
          • Keith July 31, 2010
          • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
          • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
        • The Gaffer July 31, 2010
          • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
          • Irate Fan July 31, 2010
        • King Eric August 20, 2010
  12. Tampa Stick July 31, 2010
  13. Jon July 31, 2010
    • njndirish July 31, 2010
      • Jon July 31, 2010
        • njndirish July 31, 2010
          • HaggsTheRed August 2, 2010
  14. Gareth July 31, 2010
  15. rej4sl July 31, 2010
  16. Alan Knut July 31, 2010
    • TR1 July 31, 2010
  17. Sandy July 31, 2010
  18. roll July 31, 2010
    • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
      • roll July 31, 2010
        • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
        • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
        • njndirish July 31, 2010
          • zzz July 31, 2010
          • njndirish July 31, 2010
          • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
          • zzz August 1, 2010
          • zzz August 1, 2010
          • njndirish August 1, 2010
  19. Dave July 31, 2010
  20. [OPTI]Madschester United July 31, 2010
    • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
      • [OPTI]Madschester United August 1, 2010
    • njndirish July 31, 2010
    • Marc July 31, 2010
      • [OPTI]Madschester United August 1, 2010
  21. SSReporters July 31, 2010
    • njndirish July 31, 2010
      • SSReporters July 31, 2010
  22. Peter B July 31, 2010
    • Peter B July 31, 2010
  23. Matt July 31, 2010
  24. AtlantaPompey July 31, 2010
    • Duke July 31, 2010
    • IanCransonsKnees August 1, 2010
      • Sir Guy August 2, 2010
        • IanCransonsKnees August 2, 2010
          • The Gaffer August 2, 2010
  25. Shakira July 31, 2010
  26. Gratefullawyer July 31, 2010
    • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
  27. DVV July 31, 2010
    • troy July 31, 2010
      • Mike Fahey July 31, 2010
    • Peter B July 31, 2010
  28. rob July 31, 2010
    • IanCransonsKnees August 1, 2010
  29. Sir Guy July 31, 2010
  30. troy July 31, 2010
    • Sir Guy July 31, 2010
      • troy July 31, 2010
  31. Patrick July 31, 2010
    • troy July 31, 2010
  32. troy July 31, 2010
  33. Big Red July 31, 2010
    • patrick July 31, 2010
    • Paul Burkhart August 4, 2010
  34. catchascatchcan July 31, 2010
  35. Johnny July 31, 2010
    • Dave C August 2, 2010
  36. This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
    • Ben Ruskin July 31, 2010
  37. Leeds football July 31, 2010
    • Sir Guy July 31, 2010
      • The Gaffer July 31, 2010
      • This One Guy in Detroit July 31, 2010
        • Sir Guy July 31, 2010
      • Sir Guy July 31, 2010
      • Leeds football August 1, 2010
        • Sir Guy August 1, 2010
          • njndirish August 1, 2010
        • Dave C August 2, 2010
          • Sir Guy August 2, 2010
  38. Joe July 31, 2010
  39. jleau July 31, 2010
    • RBNY Fan August 10, 2010
  40. Dave C July 31, 2010
  41. Gaz Hunt August 1, 2010
  42. Alan Knut August 1, 2010
  43. Tim McElroy August 1, 2010
    • njndirish August 1, 2010
  44. Earl August 1, 2010
  45. UpTheBlues August 1, 2010
    • Gaz Hunt August 1, 2010
  46. cioccio August 1, 2010
    • cioccio August 1, 2010
  47. bark August 1, 2010
  48. Table Football August 1, 2010
  49. Jeff August 1, 2010
    • MNUfan1991 August 2, 2010
  50. Jesse Chula August 1, 2010
  51. Vious August 1, 2010
  52. dhines August 1, 2010
  53. TJ August 2, 2010
  54. Majewski79 August 2, 2010
  55. IanCransonsKnees August 2, 2010
  56. Mike August 2, 2010
    • IanCransonsKnees August 3, 2010
  57. McQueen August 2, 2010
    • tonyspeed August 2, 2010
      • McQueen August 2, 2010
  58. Jay August 2, 2010
  59. tonyspeed August 2, 2010
    • Sir Guy August 2, 2010
    • IanCransonsKnees August 2, 2010
      • IanCransonsKnees August 2, 2010
  60. y'all got the game messed up August 2, 2010
    • Sir Guy August 2, 2010
  61. robert August 2, 2010
  62. Paul Burkhart August 3, 2010
  63. matt August 3, 2010
  64. Above all else: Fire August 17, 2010
  65. you watch football 4 a couple of years now your brian clough lol August 19, 2010
  66. King Eric August 20, 2010
  67. Paul Cass August 23, 2010
  68. Jacquot August 27, 2010
  69. faboofour August 30, 2010
  70. Mike Fahey September 11, 2010
  71. irock October 9, 2010
  72. voyager1 October 18, 2010
  73. Nik February 6, 2011
    • Nik February 6, 2011

Leave a Reply