If you’ve already used up your ten monthly articles on the New York Times website, you might have missed Andrew Keh’s aptly titled piece, “M.L.S. Tries to Mute Fans’ Vulgar Chants,” in which he outlines the lengths to which Major League Soccer has gone to keep their TV broadcasts clean and free of the dreaded Y.S.A. chant. Described as “a more vulgar expression of ‘You suck, jerk,'” by Keh, the actual chant is “You suck, asshole,” and can be enjoyed here.
What struck me about the article is that it seems like M.L.S. and the Red Bulls in particular are trying to move past an era of involved – albeit, crude – crowd support that a great number of sports fans sorely miss. You can’t go to a Yankee game without hearing an aging, farting Brooklynite loudly reminisce on the good old days; when people actually paid attention to the game, when the regular fans resembled today’s bleacher creatures and when the bleacher creatures were all criminals, obese or both. That they were blind drunk goes without saying.
It’s not hard to imagine why M.L.S. would want to curb this particular brand of team spirit, and frankly, I can understand why a lot of fans wouldn’t want it either. It’s hard to teach your child the finer points of the game when the guy next to you is simultaneously fighting and vomiting on the unlucky fellow sitting in front of him. Moreover, every stadium-goer is familiar with the annoyance of having an aggressive fan chide you for not cheering your team loud enough, when little do they know that in the privacy of your living room, you have anxiously bored holes in your stomach lining, praying for a win.
Then again, the fat drunks have a point. The state of today’s ball parks can be pretty embarrassing. I was recently lucky enough to get seats three rows behind home plate at Yankee Stadium and was shocked to find that over half the seats around me were empty, and that the rich, J Crew salmon pants wearing stock broker sitting in front of me was reading a Wall Street Journal the whole time. Finding myself tempted to start a Y.S.A. chant in his general direction, I began to understand the plight of the endangered bleacher creature.
It would appear that M.L.S. lacks this empathy, as the lengths they have gone to tone down their fan base’s crude enthusiasm include what effectively amounts to a series of $500 bribes. Given how much effort it took to get fans in the seats in the first place, M.L.S. should probably just be glad that fans are chanting anything and let this one go. Compared to the outright hatred being spewed in other arenas around the world, believe me, it could be a lot worse.