It all began for me in the Fall of 1997.
I was returning home from a vacation in London with some amazing memories and a horrible case of…Anglophilia. Yes, I was obsessed with English culture.
Back in Chicago I scoured hard to quench my thirst. I dug through record store import bins for obscure CD singles from Oasis, Blur and Pulp. I paid through the nose to get the latest copy of Select, NME and Q. I started ordering ‘pints’ and may have even said ‘trainers’ instead of gym shoes. The disease was full blown.
My love of soccer was born at this time, too.
Fortunately, the Internet had started to make our world a bit more flat and a Europhile like me could go after soccer coverage in however niche a way I wanted. Rudimentary podcasts, pirate streams, digital file sharing and online forums all helped provide access to the likes of Zola, Bergkamp, Shearer, Cantona, Beckham and Fowler. It was a struggle, but it was worth it for this new Premier League nut.
Nearly twenty years on, it’s fascinating to me how much emerging media consumption remains a part of the American soccer fan’s DNA. Even as traditional broadcast outlets show unparalleled respect to the sport and in a time when fans do not need to work as hard to find coverage.
Chelsea FC have more Twitter followers in America than the Chicago Cubs do. Soccer chatter (of all types) dominates Reddit. MLS is one of the first American sports leagues to communicate with fans on Snapchat. SiriusXM FC is a satellite radio channel dedicated to soccer. Supporter culture in soccer is connected online in ways other sports fans, and leagues, can only dream of. On, and on, and on.
A big part of this phenomenon is the American soccer fan demo in 2015. It’s young, it’s globally-minded, it’s multicultural, it’s tech savvy and rightly so, it’s being courted by corporate marketers.
So while I’m in no way a millennial, or a part of this core soccer demo, I’ll look in from the sidelines with appreciation while I watch a Periscope feed of Jose Mourinho’s presser and pull down Noel Gallagher’s newest solo album from ‘the cloud’ in the hopes I’ve earned some street cred from day’s gone by.