There is a lot to love about seeing soccer in England. But there are also things America is better at.
Of course, there are many things the UK is simply better at than the US when it comes to seeing sports events: the superior atmosphere, the more knowledgeable fans, the smaller and more convenient stadiums, the presence of away fans, far fewer commercial interruptions, and so on. Here is more on all of that.
Well, ask any Brit, and they will tell you there are things they admire and enjoy about “sport” in the US. Many of them actually enjoy the carnival atmosphere at an NFL game, with music and dance squads and in-stadium replays. I’m not so sure about all of that, but here are a few others that we’re definitely good at.
Women’s soccer. Say hello to your two-time defending World Cup champs! The US is pretty much Germany and Brazil combined.
Beer in your seats. This just blows their mind, actually. In the UK, it’s against the law to drink in the seating area.
Roaming vendors. Not only can we drink in our seats, we don’t even have to leave our seats to get a drink! (Perhaps ironically, I would also put “nobody walking in front of you during the game” as an advantage of the English system.)
Comfortable stadiums. They are getting better at this, but many of their (especially older) grounds will leave anybody over 5-foot-10 with sore knees.
Better food. The food is just crap at English stadiums, and it really makes no sense. Certainly a big Premier League club can do better? Local food carts, hello? Next time you’re talking to a Brit, tell them what you eat at your home stadium, and watch their head explode.
The schedule is the schedule. When our schedule comes out, that’s it. Games don’t move around, nor do new ones pop up. In England, the “fixtures list” is what you might call a living document, subject to change whenever the TV networks decide to change it. In theory they have a schedule for these announcements, but they don’t stick to it, and if that’s a problem for you, then you can pretty well eat it. You don’t pay the bills.
Fans mixing. Think about it: at your biggest rivalry game, you arrive in your seats and find that your neighbors are opposing fans. You can imagine saying hello, asking how they feel about the game, commiserating about the frustrations of fandom, etc. And when they score, you expect them to cheer, though respectfully.
In England they would be hauled out of the stadium by security immediately after being identified – for their own protection. The fact that we welcome opposing fans – that we are, in a word, civilized about the whole thing – amazes the English football fan. Although it should be said that rugby fans in the UK have the same attitude we do, and fans there mix all the time.
Replays. A US game can feel like being inside a television show sometimes, and that can be annoying. Then again, when something cool or interesting or controversial happens on the field, it sure is nice to see it again on a big screen. Good luck with that in England. I’ve been to stadiums there without scoreboards!
I guess it’s all a mix, and maybe we’re just drawn to anything new. I can see the good points of all of it, but when it comes down to it, I think I’d rather be singing and sipping Bovril on the terraces of League Two than at just about any US event — unless it involves my beloved Portland Timbers. Because, really, this whole thing is totally irrational, right?