Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Our Grand Hope for US Soccer

Standing outside of the Cinema Tent at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN, I nervously dripped sweat in the midday humidity two hours before the US took the field against Italy on Saturday. As I waited for a chance to get inside to see the game, I occupied myself by making instant friends talking obscure tactics with everyone around.

I eventually got into the tent and was fortunate enough to witness a classic moment in US soccer with hundreds of other rabid US soccer fans. We were all prepared to organize some sort of riot had we not gotten inside to see the game. Bonnaroo’s organizers even had to call mounted police to block the entrance and discourage any disobedience.

The game, as you know, was an emotional drama that was tense until the final whistle. I was exhausted and without a voice after the ordeal.

But, it was one of the most heartening soccer experiences I’ve ever had on American soil. Everyone in the tent, and though we were only a few hundred in number, was intensely involved in the game. We were not casual fans. And since we were at this music festival of national scope, we were gathered from various locations around the country. The hope of Reckless Abandon is that we can start to connect these people, these reckless American soccer fans, under the same “tent.”

I made instant friends with many people on Saturday, and I witnessed firsthand that true passion for soccer, passion international in scope, exists in this country. We do have knowledgeable fans. We just are not yet connecting them to one another properly.

ESPN has great journalism, but they have many other sports and many other agendas. Fox Soccer and the BBC are not concerned with the American game. The quality of coverage at Soccer America is a joke. US Soccer Players is unimpressive. The NY Times and other strong institutions have been covering the Cup well, but this only comes once every four years. Sam’s Army desperately needs some web development help. US Soccer, though it tries hard and does a good job, can sometimes be kind of dorky. Big Soccer is just an eyestrain.

The time has come for someone to emerge to connect all neighborhoods of the US soccer community and provide user-driven content as well as quality soccer journalism.

Reckless Abandon is only a blog now, but we have grand ambitions for the future. The spirit of soccer is too strong and goes too deep in too many American people for soccer to be denied in this country. That is our assumption, and that is our hope.


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