The Outsiders: The Plight Of The North American Footy Fan

David KeenContributor IJuly 15, 2010

Now that the World Cup has come to an end, and the majority of North American sports fans can go back to virtually forgetting the world’s most popular game even exists, a pang of sadness resonates in the heart of the North American footy fan as our game gets shunted to the back burner once more. 

North American Footy Fans lead a paltry existence, while fans of sports like American Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, golf, tennis, NCAA sports, heck even NASCAR, are constantly bombarded with round the clock highlights, analysis, news and live coverage, footy fans find themselves on YouTube hoping someone in Turkey happened to post clips from the just ended English Premier League matches, or watch MLS.

Offices all over the United States are filled with discussion about LeBron’s decision and what it’ll mean to the NBA while Canadians are wondering who will land Ilya Kovalchuk and how it’ll shape the NHL’s landscape. The North American footy fan meanwhile, looks sheepishly around the workplace wondering if anyone had heard about City trying to splash some of its billions on Edin Dzeko... to no avail. 

What a lift of spirit the North American footy fan gets when a new, possibly foreign, guy is hired! Maybe he’s Mexican! We can discuss Sven Goran-Eriksson’s terrible run as Mexico’s national side manager. Or maybe he’s Spanish! Thoughts about talking El Clasico, Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Barca’s chances in the Champions League, Ronaldo’s latest hairstyle! Oh the possibilities... That is, until we realize he’s Dominican, and all he wants to talk about is what a great season Robinson Cano is having.

The North American footy fan isn’t glued to ESPN or TSN, he watches Setanta Sports or GolTV or he glares squint-eyed at his laptop monitor at 7am while his online stream buffers in and out. Only the few members of his circle of friends who share his passion are his refuge, his life raft in a sea of ignorance. In their company, no longer must he utter the word “soccer.” No longer must he defend his game against those who attack what they do not even fully understand. No longer must he endure the scorn of those who cannot find beauty in a nil-nil draw.

That is, of course, until the World Cup rolls around. Suddenly everyone loves the beautiful game. Suddenly it’s our sport that dominates the headlines, the newscasts, the sports shows, the highlights. People all over are talking football, real football! And yet, is the North American footy fan happy? Not really.

Instead of being relegated to specialty shows, football is everywhere, and suddenly everyone is a footballing pundit. Do we get to simply enjoy the short-lived attention our game receives? No. Instead of arguing the merits of the game itself, we have to listen to someone who couldn’t tell you where Tim Howard plays proceed to tell you why he’s the best keeper in the world.

By the time the tournament is over, as excited as the North American footy fan is to see the World Cup come, it’s always nice to see it go as well. Like going home after a month-long vacation, we can get back to supporting the clubs we love and, unless you’re Spanish, move on from the disappointment of the tournament’s results. We get to go back to dealing with “soccer fans” that also “love Man U” but couldn’t tell you who has managed United for the past 20 plus years.

Being a footy fan in North America isn’t always easy; at times it can be downright frustrating. But, given the chance, I’m not actually sure we’d change anything. We wear our love of the game like a badge of honour, because we know something the rest of (or, most of... sorry Mexico) the continent doesn’t.