A Journey into Fútbol Fandom: Not Stepping on Loyals’ Toes

If you haven’t read the first installment of the new “A Journey into Fútbol Fandom” featured series on MSF, well, why not? CHECK OUT “Where to Start?” HERE!

Anyway, the early stages of my journey into becoming a soccer fan have continued, and enjoyably so. I’ve found some very interesting articles throughout the web about the team I’ve chosen to support, the Liverpool Reds. Everything from the controversial but extremely talented striker Luis Suárez to the beloved and heroic Steven Gerrard to the latest transfer rumors surfacing around the club in light of the current winter transfer window.

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Gerrard leads the team in assists (8) and is second in goals (4). (Photo by Ben Sutherland via CC BY 2.0)

I’ve also tried to familarize myself with the Reds’ roster so I can hopefully soon start to say I have a very good feel for the team. While it’s obviously important to know an equal amount about Liverpool’s competition, I figure that’s one or two steps away in my process.

I don’t want to overload myself early on, so for now my focus will remain on getting to know the Reds inside & out. But besides looking up article after article online, what else do I need to do? Well obviously, I need to watch the boys in action.

Saturday morning’s match that’ll see Liverpool (8-7-7) take on Norwich City (6-8-8) will mark the first time I’ll be actively rooting on the Reds, as they’ll face the Canaries at 10 A.M. EST.

It should be an exciting one, as the last two times the clubs matched up, the Reds won 3-0 and 5-2, with Luis Suárez recording hat tricks in both contests. You bet I’ll be watching, and I hope you guys tune into FOX Soccer as well for what hopes to be an entertaining 90 minutes.

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So at this point in time, I figure a lot of you have a question for me. And I expect said question is similar to the following:

“Why make such a scheduled, thought-out, and methodical approach to becoming a Liverpool fan? Why not just dip your toes in and test the water and gradually submerge yourself over time?”

Well, trust me … I’m doing it on purpose and have a specific answer to that question.

As a very loyal sports fan who gives countless hours to my beloved teams each and every day, I’ve never taken well to bandwagon fans. I do understand why bandwagon fans exist and that they’ll never go away.

But when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, when the Bears got to the Super Bowl in 2006, or when my Indiana Hoosiers broke out last season, the people that claim to be true fans completely out of the blue during and/or after a team has success definitely get on my nerves.

I think fandom has to be earned. And that’s all I’m trying to do by chronicling my detailed, methodical journey into soccer fandom … I’m trying to earn my fandom.

Internationally, soccer fans are as loyal, devoted, and enthusiastic as they come. If you weren’t already aware of this, you can find an endless amount of videos on YouTube illustrating that fact. Better yet, check out the movie Green Street Hooligans like I did a couple nights ago. While it’s definitely a very extreme example of fútbol (West Ham United) fandom, it definitely gets its point across.

Since I don’t approve of bandwagoning, it would be rather hypocritical of me to do so … especially when dealing with the English Premier League.

Although I may continue to mispronounce players’ names, fail to understand each and every statistic, or not wake up in time for an occasional game for a little while longer, I figure this linear, step-by-step process in which I’ll be taking baby steps into fútbol fandom is the best approach to take.

So to you loyals out there – I hope I’m not stepping on your toes. But whether you like it, it’s going to take some fans like myself for soccer to spread to the USA. All I’m trying to do is earn my fandom and set an example for American consumers of sport who, like me, have been hesitant for so long to adopt soccer.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @GropSports as well as MSF @ByMSF for more of my journey until the next installment of the series, which will likely be on MidwestSportsFans.com this weekend.



About Zach Gropper

Zach Gropper is a sports broadcasting major at Indiana University in the beautiful town of Bloomington, IN. He is from Flossmoor, IL, a small Chicago suburb.
Zach was was the sports director for WHFH 88.5 FM Flossmoor his junior year of high school and Television Station Manager of Viking Television during his senior year.
He runs a White Sox blog at GrabSomeBench.com and also contributes and reports for AssemblyCall.com. Last summer, Zach interned for ESPN 1000 AM Chicago, working on programming for the Waddle and Silvy Show.
He is currently eager to get out into the professional world of sports media, wherever that may take him.

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