A strongly worded letter to the editor was printed in the Vancouver Sun today, with one Whitecaps fan blasting the crowd after last weeks match versus the L.A. Galaxy. here's the link to the letter. Essentially, the fan feels as though the crowd was 'unsportsmanlike', and that it sent the wrong message to their 12 year old son.
First of all, let's all take a deep breath.
Okay, good that's out of the way.
Now, I'm assuming the author of that piece is not a regular Whitecaps fan, because firstly, they didn't seem to know the crowd would shout 'You fat bastard' after every goal kick. That's not new information, right? The supporters of this club have essentially been doing that since the 'Caps inception into MLS. While any parent would want to shield their child from curse words for as long as possible, we can all agree that, as a 12 year old, he's probably heard worse things on television, movies, or video games. Seriously, play Call of Duty on Xbox Live and tell me it won't eat a little part of your soul.
People go to Vancouver Whitecaps matches partly BECAUSE of the incredible atmosphere fans can generate. They create clever nicknames for players, they reword songs to include the Whitecaps, and yes, believe it or not, they boo at the opposing team, and sometimes their own team if things aren't going well. As paying customers, are fans truyl not allowed to voice their displeasure at officials, or athletes who are making tons of money to play a freaking game? Some fans don't enjoy a rocking stadium, which is totally a personal preference. However, that's why we have televisions, so if you can't handle the noise, you can sit on the comfort of your own couch and pop open a beer. If 20,000 fans want to cheer, and one fan wants to sit rigidly and not enjoy the moment, then perhaps the problem doesn't lie with the other fans.
The author also took issue with fans calling 'faker' when a player went down with injury. As any soccer fan knows, players are booed for that because, well, they probably were faking. A player will routinely go down, writhe in agony, then hop up to his feet five seconds later and sprint off to join the play. Diving is a common aspect of the game, and when it happens fans have every right to call that player out on it. Once again, that's not an egregious issue at all.
Here's my favourite passage from the letter:
We raise our children to be polite to visitors in our home and city. We tell our children if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. We raise our children to acknowledge another person's triumphs and clap for the boy who beat you at the spelling bee
Unfortunately, professional sports aren't like a spelling bee, and for supporters that literally live and breathe this team, match day can be an incredibly important and emotional day. If fans were quiet, 'polite' and clapped for the opposing team, that would make us pretty crappy fans, wouldn't it? Home field advantage is derived from the loud, raucous crowd that is supposed to pump our boys up, and strike just a little fear into the hearts of the opposition. That can't really happen if we're all sitting on our hands, unwilling to cheer, or boo. Essentially, if we had a stadium full of silent fans, B.C. Place wouldn't be the fortress it currently is.
Here's another quote for us all to have a look over.
As we left with friends I had a split moment thinking of the riots here not that long ago; somehow I had hoped poor sportsmanship was on the decline.
While I understand this person didn't enjoy their experience, trying to draw a link between a normal, well behaved soccer crowd and a riot that occured after a hockey match, and was the result of many out of towners and drunk Canucks fans causing a ruckus is a little ridiculous.
We tend to bristle when 'Caps fans are thrown into the same lot as rioters, because WE PLAYED ZERO PART IN THE VANCOUVER RIOT. While it may be common for people to think Vancouver = Riot, 'Caps fans have done nothing to deserve that stain.
With all of the crazy crap that happens with soccer fans around the world, B.C. Place is actually pretty darn well behaved. For example, I haven't heard of any 'Caps fans throwing racist comments around during a match: (NOTE: not saying this is the norm in other leagues, just saying that it has happened)
Considering we BOOED people and said the word bastard a few times, it certainly makes you put things in perspective.
In American football, Oakland Raiders fans are known to throw darts at fans of the opposing team. We, on the other hand, called someone a 'faker'.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but if you want to fully enjoy a 'Caps match, you have to let yourself go and immerse yourself in the atmosphere. If a fan can't do that, then they really shouldn't hurry to come back. We have passionate fans who care about what happens to this team; we have the best goddamn fans in the world, fans that make B.C. Place a great place to play at.
If you're a fan that doesn't fit that profile, I do have a solution for you. If you're looking for a quiet, nearly empty sporting venue with passionless fans and absolutely no atmosphere, Rogers Arena is just a skytrain ride away.