I received this comment this morning in response to yesterday’s post. Thank you Coach Petrich. I am an absolute rookie to Euro football, and look forward to seeing this aspect of gameday… Interestedly our HC,Thomas Miller told me that it was the friendly, party-like atmosphere of going to Frankfort Galaxy games during the NFL Europe years that got him hooked on football. The contrast of the fan experience between American football and soccer is an interesting angle I hadn’t considered. Thanks and I hope you keep reading my posts.
From Coach Petrich-
Outstanding reflection on the joy of playing football in Europe! I coached a lower division in Finland (1988 ); on the European Champs in 2001 ( Italy ); on a budding Innsbruck team in 2002 that won the European Championship in 2009; and in Sicily in 2009. The reelections here-in are mostly right on: But, I would add, most players who enjoyed and stayed with the American Football, felt they were a special fraternity due to different expectations and challenges in the sport. I have to call this a “self imposed” expectation toward character building. Let me explain.
In every country I coached, the female fan base was part of the various forms of sociability at games via European adaptations of what we call “tailgate parties”. Men came to games with dates, and stayed to socialize at a set up social after game affair, maybe at the stadium ( with the other team invited). This was is a character building aspect of American Football, in its own right! That very same stadium most likely was a soccer (“real football”) stadium, which when soccer games were played, restricted fans from intermingling at all before or after the game: With even locked gated separating players and officials on the field, from the fans in the stands.
Indeed, one big reason the women liked attending, and even offered to be cheer leaders, was because they felt safe and welcomed in stadiums they would never go to otherwise. I, myself, never considered taking a date to a big soccer game in any of the European cities where I coached due to the un-sportmanlike nature of the local male fans. So, I think their is a very big expectation among supporters of American Football, both players and fans, to instill a different character to sports participation than they have very often experienced in Europe.