Memories of soccer past:
At a 1994 World Cup practice open to the public, a Brazilian fan provides a musical soundtrack to the happenings on the field below at Santa Clara University’s Buck Shaw Stadium. Strumming a ukulele, the singer joyfully mixes Portuguese lyrics with bird calls and other assorted sounds to both entertain his fellow fans and add color to the event. Nobody tells him to stop.
Elsewhere, crowd shots of televised matches show fans with drums, horns and other noisemaking devices leading similar celebrations.
Soccer, you see, isn’t so much a game as an event. And what goes on in the stands is as much a part of the event as the match itself. Stadium horns, drums, trumpets, songs, chants, rhythmic clapping, etc., all are part of the spectacle — and the fun.
Another high school soccer season is upon us. At times, the terms "high school" and "soccer" seem like an oxymoron. Surely, the worlds of high school sports and soccer clashed at last season’s North Coast Section 2A boys final between De Anza and Bishop O’Dowd high schools.
Some of the visiting De Anza fans had brought stadium horns and wooden noisemakers known as matracas to the match and were enjoying themselves to the fullest until instructed to knock off the merriment or face the prospect of forfeiting the match. Such noisemakers are against NCS rules, and presumably, those of the California Interscholastic Federation.
This isn’t to rip on those who enforce the rules. Rather, it’s the rules themselves that are the problem.
For sure, the authorities want to reduce the likelihood of fights. But the noisemakers in and of themselves don’t contribute to those problems. And the prohibition of such items — especially when they pertain to soccer — might be regarded in some quarters as culturally insensitive.
Ultimately, the match was decided on penalty kicks, and asking the fans to keep noisemakers silent during the shootout was reasonable, as the seniors are in their final match and the other players might never reach such a point in their prep careers again. During the run of play, however, the horns, matracas, etc., added to the spectacle, excitement and fun.
Events such as the NCS playoffs remind us how great it is to be a soccer fan. High school sports, in general, are enjoyable despite being steeped in convention. Soccer, however, exists in its own realm.
Conventional-mindedness and soccer just don’t mix.