Falling for Another ClubJust as we shouldn't judge people’s shifting romantic relationships, we shouldn't do it with their soccer relationships either
by Henrik Lonne | Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Supporting a soccer team is a funny thing. The support can grow steadily or it can be love at first sight. It can be the hometown team, or like in my case with Toronto FC, one thousands of kilometers away in a distant country. The support for a team is often irrational and it can be hard to describe why exactly you support this specific team rather than any other team. In that sense it mirrors the feelings towards others in the relationships during our lives. No matter the object, love is something special that brings both joy and pain to our lives. But in the relationship world, most people understand that having one lover for life seldom happens. So must we apply that belief to soccer affections.
The idea that you can only support one team and never switch allegiances, the soccer equivalent of ”The one”, was entrenched in pop culture by Nick Hornby and his book “Fever Pitch”, and while a great read and a beautiful story, we must remember that even Hornby never stayed true. Even he, the symbol of soccer loyalism, had a fling with Cambridge United, so while he never quit on Arsenal, it was never a completely monogamous relationship either.
Some people find their love, either for a partner, club or both, at an early age and stay with them for the rest of their lives, and if they can do that and that is right for them, then great. But just as we do not condemn people that breakup their relationships, we should also have a deeper level of compassion for people switching teams or having multiple loyalties.
Take myself for example. As a kid I hated soccer. Detested it actually. But in my early teens FC Midtjylland, my local team, made their debut in the Danish Superliga, and as a youngster that lacked similar interests with his dad, attending FC Midtjylland became a father-son event. So obviously I supported them. In my later teens, I started spending more time in and around Aarhus, a bigger city in Denmark, the home of the historic and previously successful side of AGF. Eventually I found myself paying more attention to AGF games and caring more about their results and eventually made the switch. FCM is associated with a lot of great and I do hope they are successful. But am I a supporter? No.
When I met MLS and US Soccer in 2002 my initial support was for DC United. I don’t know really know why. I guess I like eagles. Later on the crazy-house called the MetroStars became the object of my affections and support, but eventually after visiting Toronto and attending a TFC game I knew that this was the MLS team that would have my support and it has had it ever since.
I still support both AGF and Toronto, probably Toronto more however. I can’t tell you why, but the happiness of a victory and the sadness of a defeat are just greater when it involves Toronto rather than AGF.
What is my point to all this and the personal story? People change, their lives change, and as such we cannot expect all emotional attachments in their lives to be constant. In a world where so much soccer is exposed to us all the time, it can be hard to never look at another club and be attracted. This is especially true if it is a new relationship, like it is for many MLS fans to the league and sport. Can you really demand eternal loyalty and passion for a team that has existed for less than a decade like Toronto?
I don’t claim to have the right answer about all of this, but neither should you. Soccer is about passion, emotion and caring. And if for whatever reason the club you support no longer stirs emotions in you – it’s okay to breakup and find a new love.