I’m a soccer hipster, bitches


"I'm a stylish American, Professor, I've been forcing myself to be into soccer since 2004." Jeff Winger, The Community, Early 21st Century Romanticism.

I am not automaton.  I do not wish to be like you.  Your barbaric sports bore me.  Why? Because I am a soccer hipster.

If you’re reading this blog, then you are probably a soccer hipster too.  For me, and maybe you, part of the joy of soccer is that barely anybody watches it –just look at the TV ratings.  But those who do watch it watch it fervently.  It is ours.  It is cult-like in the way that it consumes us.  EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, MLS, A-League, V-League, J-League,  Российская футбольная премьер-лига, I don’t care! If you like soccer, then you are automatically in my little soccer hipster cult.

When I see someone at the local coffee shop –aka hipster central, streaming a game on their MacBook –the official computer of hipsters, or wearing a jersey from an EPL club –most likely on top of some sort of “#OccupyWhatever” t-shirt which hasn’t been washed since they got it, I give them a secret nod.  When I’m looking through FourFourTwo at the bookstore, I almost feel like I’m peering into a pornographic pamphlet of hipster knowledge that no one else is avant garde enough to get.  When radio hosts say soccer is stupid, requires no skills, and isn’t even a smart game, I shake my head and smirk because I know I am better than them. When people say “why do you like soccer, it’s boring,” I look at them like they have questioned the Law of Gravity.  This is how I role; I’m a soccer hipster.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be caught smoking a cigarette, while wearing skinny jeans and a beret, waiting in the rain for a jitney on 71st street, but like most soccer enthusiasts part of the attraction of the sport is that it isn’t mainstream.  Soccer hipsters love having our secret conversations about how Cristiano Ronaldo would be just as good as Lionel Messi if he had Xavi and Iniesta.  Soccer hipsters laugh at the mainstream sports fans who have never heard of Marco Pelosi, Neymar, or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar .  Soccer hipsters despise when the World Cup comes around and everyone in America is trying to push their way into our conversations.  Soccer hipsters enjoy going to friends parties in our Liverpool kits, or our USMNT gear, or if we are really down we’ll rock our favorite MLS or A-League paraphernalia.  Hell, soccer hipsters even love wearing their scarves when it’s warm outside.  What soccer hipsters don’t love is sharing.

The hatred of sharing is almost an infantile thing.  “It’s mine,” we scream.  The thing about hipsters is they always lose the items that made them hip in the first place.  Soccer hipsters are –quicker than they realize– losing soccer.

The fearful analogy of soccer hipsters everywhere.

The fear that soccer hipsters have is that as soccer gains popularity, it will ultimately change.  As an analogy let’s look at the Black Eyed Peas.  I used to love the Black Eyed Peas.  Behind the Front was one of the best major label debuts for any boom-bap rap group of the mid-nineties, the followup, Bridging the Gap, was perhaps even stronger.  I would ride around Boston on the subway –the preferred mode of transportation for hipsters– listening to them, reciting apl.de.ap rhymes, and marveling at the beats crafted by will.i.am.  Then Fergie joined the group.  They released “Where is the Love?” –featuring Justin Timberlake no less– as the lead single from Elephunk, and I never had interest in them again, but the rest of the world suddenly did.  Once something gets popular, hipsters tend to walk away.  Just look at how they abandoned Shepard Fairey.

So while US soccer hipsters complain about soccer’s popularity in America, compared with it’s incomparable status in Europe –since hipsters love talking about things popular in foreign countries anyway, do we really want Black Eyed Peas type of exposure to our game?

As a soccer fan, I know that I do.  As a soccer hipster, I’m not so sure.  What will I feel when the throwball fans that I’ve made fun of for years starts to join me tailgating at an Atlanta Silverbacks’ game?  What happens when the corporate yuppie is sitting next to me, texting away, and yammering on during a Rocket City United game?  How will I respond when ninth grade girls begin fawning over Chris Pontius because “he’s so fine?” (Do girls still say that?) These are things soccer hipsters loathe, things they fear, things they hate!

Soccer fans want the game to grow.  To a lesser degree soccer hipsters do too.  But at what cost?

As I sit here, blogging away, wearing warm up pants, and a QPR t-shirt –if that doesn’t make me more of a soccer hipster then I don’t know what does– I know that soccer is growing in America, in Australia, in Canada, in the rest of the world.  By the time my oldest son is 14, MLS will have been around for 25 years.  They’ll release their “25 Greatest MLS Players List” and other non-hipster related things to celebrate a quarter-century of soccer.  By then they will have probably already caught the public’s imagination.

And some soccer hipsters will be furious.  As UEFA’s Champions League and the English Premier League are being shown of standard Fox, as Lionel Messi finishes runner-up in Sports Illustrated’s “Sports Person of the Year,” as MLS moves from its tiny niche –some may say public access (the hipster television station of choice) like– home on FSC to the plush world of NBC, perhaps, soccer is already not only for the hipsters.

We can either enjoy it’s new found popularity –soccer moms, sorority girls, celebrity fans, and formerly soccer celibate announcers (I’m looking at you Wilbon and Kornheiser), while shouting out the hipster catchphrase, “I liked it before it was popular,” or just move on to Major League Lacrosse.

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11 responses to “I’m a soccer hipster, bitches”

  1. Eric Beard says :

    Oh man, the connection is undeniable. That being said, it’s irritating that anything of cultural value or anything niche gets the “hipster” tag. Soccer as a whole is most definitely not hipster, that’s for sure. Hipsters can support the game just like anyone else, unlike in other sports (i.e. NFL). But that’s what happens when a game becomes universal.

    • Abram Chamberlain says :

      I think the biggest thing that makes other sports fan, especially NFL fans, view soccer supporters as “hipsters” is because it is still such a foreign sport to them. Anything from another country –even Canada, the Caribbean or Mexico– is foreign, odd, and scary to them. NHL fans seem to be open, probably due to the same idea of their sport being so “niche.” Oddly NBA fans, who’s sport is just as universal as soccer, and shares a lot of similarities with it, seem also to really dislike the idea of soccer being big in America. But yeah, each sport has a number of “hipster fans” who think they know it better than anyone and are bigger fans than everyone else.

  2. PhillyVince says :

    I would like to see the sport grow here, but without promotion/relegation, MLS will always be Soccer Lite. I am okay with the “keep soccer elite” mentality. Too many bonehead national media like to make fun, but they can pound sand. We don’t need their approval.

  3. FutbolDaddy says :

    There’s a project I recently came across and is launching soon called Soccer Speaks USA (http://soccerspeakusa.wordpress.com/). I think there’s a lot of people thinking about the growth of the game in the US right now. I think pro/rel would definitely help as Philly Vince said above as well.

  4. Jay says :

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but soccer was never for the hipsters. The most attached soccer fans are those who possess a connection to the game for reasons actually pertaining to the game, not because its “avant garde”. Fans who truly care about the game are those who bring others closer to the sport (see the Free Beer Movement) and not those who shun others who aren’t as knowledgeable. I agree that it can be infuriating when others know less about the game than you do (especially when they are commentating during USMNT games) but getting others to love the game itself is the only way to grow the sport here.

    • Abram Chamberlain says :

      That’s fair enough; however, there are definitely “soccer hipsters.” I’m not saying that all fans of the sport are necessarily “hipsters,” but there are those who want to keep their game a precious secret. To me, a “soccer hipster” –like a hipster-hipster– likes the sport partially because it is their own thing. I have written some stuff for the Free Beer Movement (https://vivalafutbol.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/how-the-free-beer-movement-may-have-broken-my-marriage/ | http://www.thefreebeermovement.com/2011/10/brews-and-views-essay-series-why_2015.html), and I love what they are doing. Still, there are people who no matter how big the game gets in America will feel that they know more than others. This is no different than basketball hipsters, baseball hipsters, throwball hipsters, or hockey hipsters, who love the game but feel everyone who watches it is not as smart as they are about all of its intricacies. No idea if this explanation made any sense.

      • Jay says :

        It makes sense, from the first article I interpreted “soccer hipster” as someone more interested in the relative anonymity of the sport, but in your reply I get how you’ll always know more about the sport than the late comers. Fair enough.

  5. thegeeman says :

    Your forgot Brasileiros Serie A- Argentina- Peru and the Copa Libertadores. Futebol is huge and a religion in Brasil. I’m love the NFL but Futebol is my passion. My wife is brasileira. Both the NFl and futebol rock. Go Eagles. I’m a dire hard Eagles fan. A Philly Kid. Flamenguista tambem. Gunner as well.

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