In my runaway bestseller, "Let's Round Up All the Eurosnobs and Harvest Their Internal Organs," I define the term Eurosnob as follows:
3. someone born in the United States to non-soccer fan parents who supports another national team.
4. someone who self-refers as a soccer fan, who lives within an hour's distance of an MLS team, but never goes to games
5. someone who gives reasons for not supporting the Nats, or their local MLS team, for reasons that, if applied equivalently in Europe, would be instantly seen as front-running glory-hunting.
In my followup bestseller, "Is Killing a Eurosnob Really Murder? Is Eating Their Flesh Really Cannibalism?", I spell out the Eurosnob Scale. Like the Richter Scale, each number is an order of magnitude.
1. You are a soccer player out of college getting dicked over on contract negotiations, or are a developmental player making less than Freddy Adu's cats.
Oh, yeah, are you kidding? Screw MLS. Screw it, let it make you breakfast in the morning, promise you'll call, and spend the rest of the week letting your calls go to voicemail.
2. You used to have an MLS team, but it moved, so you support a European team.
This barely registers as Eurosnobbery, provided you support your local USL side. Fans like this can be released on their own recognizance.
3. You have an MLS team, but it's the Red Bulls, Galaxy or Chivas USA.
Being lumped into corporate brand extensions like Red Bull or Brand Beckham is sufficiently annoying that it's understandable if you'd prefer not to deal with it. However, cockamamie marketing has been part of the game for decades now. Did you see Washington Diplomats and Montreal Manic fans ditch their teams when they changed to patriotic marketing? Yes, you did, in countless droves - but that didn't make it right.
4. You don't live anywhere near an MLS team.
Now we're into American spectator sports exceptionalism. Unlike nearly every other nation, the major sports in the US are supported by people who may never see them play live, who live in some cases hundreds or thousands of miles away. The idea that fans form solid, heartfelt bonds with teams based on television broadcasts is heresy in Europe, but that's the way it is here.
In England, every uncivilized backwater has its own team - usually five or twelve. In America, only the very, very grandest of cities, like Carson or East Rutherford, have what you would call a local choice. Uncivilized backwaters like Atlanta and San Diego have to cheer for distant teams. So hundreds of millions of American sports fans make their formative sports loyalties based on who they saw on television, or who had the best uniforms, or who had the most popular players, back when they were eight years old or so.
So what's the practical difference, then, between living and dying for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and living and dying for Barcelona, when you're in Honolulu? Really, only a fan can make the call whether his or her loyalty is legitimate.
Still, referring to "we" and "us" from a hemisphere away is sports-talk radio-worthy, and puts you dangerously close to the next category.
5. You formed your loyalties before or away from MLS.
This topic will get a little more heated as we get closer to August 12. But, let's face it. You can't really call Mexican club fans and Mexico national team fans "Eurosnobs." Well, you can. It's actually funny when you do. That's why I do it.
But how can you cheer against the team your dad cheered for? How can you cheer against a team that's part of your identity?
Did Kasey Keller and Brian McBride stop supporting the US when they moved abroad? No, they didn't. That's what loyalty is.
However, while it's understandable and perhaps laudable, to local fans it comes across as 99 44/100ths pure doucheitude. Los Angeles is the Holy City for this kind of fan behavior, and soccer's just a teeny part of it. Try watching a Kings game when the Red Wings are in town. Or a Dodgers game when the Cubs visit. Or any Angels game. Even the Lakers get Celtics partisans.
And it isn't even sports. The only reason you can't swing a dead cat without hitting ten people going "blah blah New York this blah blah New York that" is because of the unreasonable prices they're charging for dead cats these days. My God - "I can't get decent pizza, I can't get a bagel, the public transportation sucks." Bitch, bitch, bitch. The Mets suck, your pizza is thin and tasteless, and Woody Allen hasn't made a decent movie in twenty-five years.
I seem to have gone on a tangent. What the hell was this post about again?
Oh, right, Eurosnobs. Next category.
6. Your local MLS team stinks.
That's different from just "Your local MLS team is the New York Red Bulls." Okay, the Venn diagram between the two is a pretty large overlap, but it's not cool to ditch a team because every year they're abortiotacular. You don't think there are grand, historic, beloved teams in Europe that have hit a bad patch?
Admittedly, for comedy purposes, "I got tired of watching FC Dallas lose every year, so now I'm a Newcastle fan" is box office gold. But picking a winner that's safely far away is still picking a winner. In fact, it comes with fewer consequences. In Alabama or New Mexico or wherever, if things go bad you just turn the page or switch the channel. Real Madrid fans in Spain have to deal with the repercussions of Barcelona lording it over them, and vice versa. Manchester United fans in England have to deal with every peak and valley, day in and day out, win or lose, no matter what.
Wait, did I say England? I meant Thailand.
Once you say your loyalty is conditional on results, you stop being a fan and start being a customer.
7. You cheer for a team outside the Premiership, Serie A, or the G-14.
Like the Richter Scale, we're now around the part of the scale where the smarminess can kill people and damage property. At least when you're sporting a St. Pauli or Partick Thistle shirt, you can feel good about being outside the machine, and your part in raging against it.
Still, every MLS team is more of a social outsider than every team you can name in Europe, and who on the planet is a bigger underdog than the US national team?
Yes, every MLS team is bankrolled by multimillionaires. Cheering for a soccer team is not the same as cheering for gross domestic product. You may think you're cool, but you're still an American soccer fan. A comic book fan who looks down on the X-Men and only reads Neal Gaiman graphic novels is still a comic book fan.
8. You want to watch the highest possible quality of play.
By this logic, if you lived across the street from Ibrox, St. James' Park, or even La Bombonera, you'd stay home and watch Chelsea on television.
This doesn't achieve full, 100% family-size, industrial strength douchebaggery because at its core, it's a seductive complaint. There is a minimum level of quality below which it is unreasonable to ask paying customers to attend. (Amazing how often the Red Bulls come to mind in this conversation. Just saying.) I myself don't go to UCLA games, and since the Sol came along I don't go to any WPSL games anymore.
However, I'm still attending actual games. I'm not in some pub putting on a fake accent, pretending they can hear me in Munich.
Unlike for measuring the quality or suckiness of individual teams, rankings and comparisons of different leagues have all the prejudice and rationalization of team support, with none of the benefits. La Liga "fans" need to support both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Premiership "fans" conflate Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. According to Serie A "fans," Milan and Rome are one big happy family.
This reeking, hideous evil comes from spots being awarded in tournaments according to league and federation play. So, for example, Mexico fans are asked to cheer on the United States for the good of CONCACAF, a request that should rightfully be answered with a hearty "Hi-yo, go ******** yourself." But it makes no sense in an intercontinental club setting, because MLS doesn't compete with European leagues. Shunning MLS won't get your seventh place team in the Europa League, no matter how hard you hate.
This is assuming there's any merit to the "quality of league" argument to begin with. People say "Premiership," but they sure as hell don't mean "Blackburn Rovers" when they say it.
And, as we've seen after years of MLS play, and several consecutive World Cup appearances, there is no level of US or MLS quality that will satisfy a Eurosnob. I would say a US World Cup win, per nearly impossible, might do it, but by that time every available seat would be filled with converted mainstream fans. Eurosnobs who judge by quality of league (insert mocking air quotes as you like) will be the last MLS fans, not the next ones.
9. MLS needs to get rid of single entity and the salary cap.
What the hell do you care? You're watching athletes play soccer, not balance their ********ing checkbooks. What kind of dumbass cheers for a corporate structure? Do you also go to boardrooms and cheer on your favorite vice-presidents in charge of regional marketing?
This line of reasoning was also put forth in such classics as "MLS needs to get rid of the shootout," "MLS needs to have more traditional team names," "MLS needs to get rid of the countdown clock" and "MLS needs to have sponsors on the front of the kits." I'm sure next it will be "MLS needs to play on natural grass" or "MLS needs a single table" or "MLS needs to get rid of playoffs." These aren't reasons, these are excuses.
I mean, I guess you can try to convince the schizophrenic that the CIA isn't really beaming toothpaste commercials into his brain - but isn't it just easier to find another seat on the bus?
10. MLS fans don't have the tradition and fan passion they have in Europe.
Oh, okay. So, you'll just wait around until the rest of us build enough "tradition" and "passion." When it arrives at a level you feel is sufficient to bless with your presence, then you will come gliding in and take credit.
I got a two-word response to that.
...and the horse you rode in on
11. You think MLS isn't legitimate without promotion and relegation.
No wonder you're watching games on television. I'm surprised you're smart enough to work the remote, let alone find your way to a stadium.
....so, um, yeah. This post was going to be about the attendances for the friendlies in "The Summer of Soccer," and what it implies for MLS, but it kinda got away from me. I'll probably get to the Barcelona/Real/Chelsea friendlies in a future post. Or else I'll save it for my next book, "For ********'s Sake, Eurosnobs! Seriously! I Mean, For ********'s Sake! Christ!"