Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Behind the Ears

Blon Dee's son, Anderson, taking in the
view at Century Link Field for
Saturday's Seattle Sounders Match

The season is underway and as teams are settling into a rhythm on the field, so are fans settling into their routines and game day rituals. My husband and I share season tickets with another couple and the flexibility of having four tickets to home matches allows us to enjoy the game with our friends and our families in tow.  Inviting fellow die-hards to join us for a match makes for a thrilling, red faced, high adrenaline experience that we always enjoy.  It’s comforting to be in the company of like minded souls and talking in shorthand about the action on the field.

But there is another type of Sounders double-date experience that we are finding especially enjoyable this year.... the indoctrination of the newb.  Among our friends, there are Sounders fans of varying degrees of dedication and many who, while interested and supportive of the team, have never been to a match in Seattle.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, people in Seattle hold a general understanding that going to a Sounders game is something that you want to do.  It is fun.  It is exciting.  It is energizing and all the cool kids are doing it. But, tickets can be hard to get, schedules can be busy and many have just not made the leap from “want” to “do.”

That is where we, with our two extra tickets (sometimes), come in.

So far our invitations have been met with unanimous and enthusiastic “yes.”  And post-match reactions have been universally positive.   One friend said that she particularly liked the energy that was created through participation in a series of pre-game chants and rituals that every Sounders fan learns quickly and that our family participates in with great enthusiasm.  Here are just a few... in no particular order.

Scarves Up:  While you may know this catch-phrase as a popular game day Facebook status update, if you haven’t been to a game you may not know that it’s actually a literal command.  Twice before kickoff- first as the starting lineup is announced and later as the players assemble on field and await first kick- fans stand in solidarity and hold their team scarves in the air- hopefully with the team name displayed right side up (I always make sure to double check).  We always make sure to bring extra scarves along when we have newbies as our guests...and my mother made a special two-year old sized scarf for my son so that he will be properly adorned and in no danger of tripping over his.  Bottom line: While extremely practical in typical Seattle weather, a scarf is also a key element in feeling part of the grander “experience” of soccer.

“Who?”: Starting line-ups are announced on the loudspeaker prior to the start of the match.  When the names of the starters for the opposing team are given, fans unceremoniously answer with a resounding “Who?!” after the name of each player.  I have had to explain this one to all the newbs.... and will admit to thinking everyone was yelling “Boo!” my first few times out.  As heckling goes, I find this one charming and comparatively harmless.

Oh say can you sing?: Who is singing the national anthem today?  No, it’s not Whitney Houston or Rosanne.  It’s YOU!  Asking the fans to sing the anthem is not unique to Seattle. The fans are led by Dr. Stephen Michael Newby in a remarkably singable key and are rewarded for their efforts by fireworks.  Thank you very much.

Our kids are already seasoned pros at the pre-game ritual of Sounders game attendance.  They sing the chants and some of the ECS chants (the ones with less ~ahem~ “colorful” lyrics) while driving to school. Its fun to think that they will grow up with the memories of these experiences.  Whether or not they become lifelong soccer fans, I’m hopeful that they will reflect positively on these outings.

This season is just begun but we’re looking forward to more opportunities to initiate new fans and introduce new fans to the rituals we love to love.


  1. I have to admit one of my favorite chants:

    Announcer: "Number 23, David Beckham"

    Me (and everyone else): WHO!!!???!

    Next time I'm with you I'll make up for kids' G-rated chanting. Happy to put the "color" in "colorful lyrics" for you. #SSTID

  2. I can always count on you, Scott, for my children's "education."


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