Note: “Football” will be used in this article instead of “Soccer.”
So I just got finished watching one of my more recent obsessions: Green Street Hooligans. GSH is a movie about an American, Matt, who travels to England and is dropped into the violent, drunken world of football hooliganism for the English Premier League.
Hooliganism is defined as unruly and destructive behavior, and that is exactly what ensues. He becomes a member of the hooligan firm, Green Street Elite, who follow West Ham United, the local football team. Along with hanging at their home pub, Matt travels with the rest of the firm (which is similar to a U.S. gang, minus the guns) to both home and away games for the sole purpose of fighting and embarrassing other firms.
…Let’s say…American Football.
How would the NFL change if each team had a firm, or multiplefirms, following them to each Home and Away game?
Now, I know there are certain differences that could make this comparison tough.
For one: the US does not have the camaraderie and love of the pub scene that England has. Our country is much bigger, so we would never have as many geographic rivalries. But, there are 32 teams in the NFL compared to 22 teams in the Premiership. And they have 4 different divisions of football leagues in England, so over 100 teams that people actually follow! In spite of these differences, I think it would be interesting to imagine the US with only the NFL.
Could you imagine the Eagles’ firm fighting the Giants’ or Cowboys‘ firms? Could you imagine the entire crowd at the Linc jumping up and down, singing songs and screaming the same chants they have since the 40′s for the entire game? We often associate violence with English football, but would our country be any different if we had only one sport?
Instead of being able to pick which of the four (3 or 2) major sports teams in your city you would associate yourself with, you have one team that represents you to the rest of the country. You have one team that people associate with your city. You only have one team that represents not only you as a fan, but all of your friends and family…
Currently it is not uncommon to find an Eagles fan in New York, a Cowboys fan in Philadelphia, or a Chargers fan in Delaware. This is because, although everyone has that sense of pride in where they live, they can pick and choose one or more teams from the area to support, and then pick another team from another area for any reason and not be deemed a traitor.
I mean, how many Phillies fans are there out there who either like an American football team other than the Eagles or could simply care less about the ‘birds’? In England, to not support your home club is a mortal sin, and often will get you beaten up on more than one occasion.
So, once again, what would Philadelphia be like if the Eagles were the only team we had to watch or talk about? Along with New York, Chicago, the Bay Area, and possibly LA, Philadelphia would be a hub of violence, hooliganism, and team support in the US. Eagles firms would not only be among the largest firms, but also the most violent and best at travelling to Away Games. Adding to the violence is that 2 of the teams in our division are not only very close in proximity, but also large urban areas, surely making for huge melees with other firms.
This would lead to an incredible increase in crime both at and around sporting events, essentially turning the NFL into an Adult Spectator Sport. Children would grow up playing nothing but American football, essentially eliminating women’s athletics from becoming significant in society. Men would be more and more definted by how successful they were when they played as a child, and professionals would be even more celebrated and well-paid than they currently are (if you could imagine that).
Does this sound like a better America to you? I personally don’t feel so. Although it would be pretty cool to go to a pub with all Eagles fans, singing the Eagles Fight Song, knowing that soon I will break a beer bottle over a Dallas Cowboys Fan’s head. In fact, I might even come to live for the madness and violence that would accompany the only sporting event in town on Sundays.
Sounds to me that if you look a little bit deeper, Hooliganism isn’t only for the psychopaths and delinquents after all…