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How to Become a Soccer Fan

By Abhinav Kini

Whether you like it or not, soccer is the most popular sport in the world. The World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event worldwide. Nearly everyone on campus has heard of or played FIFA, one of the most popular soccer video games. And a little known fact according to social scientist, Rich Luker,t soccer is the second most watched sport in America for 12 to 24-year-olds as of 2012.

Soccer is gradually becoming a recognized sport in America. And with more and more people starting to follow ‘the beautiful game,’ here’s a guide on how to become a soccer fan.

1. Learn the rules and terminology

(Via Ashraf Saleh, Creative Commons)

(Via Ashraf Saleh, Creative Commons)

This is the most important step. Noone likes a ‘soccer fan’ who has no idea what the offside rule is or refers to diving as flopping. There’s no point either in watching the sport if you don’t know the rules. A good source to learn all about the laws of soccer is Soccer Universe.

On a side note, the sport is mostly referred to as football around the world. And so, it’s well-advised to refer to it as football especially online or while conversing with other fans outside North America. The map below made by a Reddit user is a well-made representation of which countries call it soccer and which call it football.

(Via Reddit)

(Via Reddit)

2. Choose a team

(Via hobvias sudoneighm, Creative Commons)

(Via hobvias sudoneighm, Creative Commons)

This can be tricky. There are so many leagues and teams to choose from – how can one possibly choose a team? The availability of games will surely play a role in your choice as popular leagues such as England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and more are all broadcast on American television. You could even opt to support your local team in America’s MLS.

The simple answer however, is you can choose a team in the most randomest of ways:

  • Supporting the team of a player whose style you really admire.
  • Recommendation of your soccer following friends.
  • Supporting a team where majority of the players play for a certain country.
  • Supporting a team based in one of your favorite cities to travel to.
  • Supporting a team your family follows or likes to watch.
  • Supporting a team because of their kit colors.

Nearly every fan around the world has a weird story on how they began supporting their particular club. In the end, why you started supporting a club isn’t really a big deal.

“Choosing a club is a feeling,” says former World Football Daily co-host and FOX Soccer editor, Robert Burns, . If you live near a club, that’s likely a good bet, but if not, watch as many as possible and one will speak to you. Football is as much about emotion as anything else – the game itself is incredibly simple.”

Once you’ve picked your team, learn more about the history of the club, the club’s current best players and who the manager is to get you started.

3. Remain committed

(Via KreuzviertelDO, Creative Commons)

(Via KreuzviertelDO, Creative Commons)

This is another crucial step. You’ve done the hard part by choosing a team. But you can’t just say you’re a fan of a club and not follow their games on a regular basis – it’s just like any other sport.

Even if you can’t watch your team’s games on a particular day:

  • Follow the scoreline and action using LiveScore.
  • Keep track of how they played.
  • Read the players’ and manager’s reaction on the official website of the team.

Remaining committed also means supporting your club during good and bad times. It’s perfectly normal if you choose to support the best team. Other people may say you’re a ‘glory hunter’ because you’ve chosen to support a club which is winning things presently but that’s not really a big deal.

A real glory hunter is one who decides to change his team when the going gets tough. A word of caution: these fans who change their clubs are looked down upon and aren’t respected one bit. So if you’re choosing a team, you better stick with them.

As a former manager, Bill Shankly once said, “If you can’t support us when we lose, don’t support us when we win.”

4. Follow (but don’t support) other teams

(Via Eser Karadağ, Creative Commons)

(Via Eser Karadağ, Creative Commons)

Once you’ve learned the rules, pick your team and started following them on a weekly basis. Another step to becoming a true soccer fan is to follow other teams. Whichever team you’ve selected are bound to have rivals – both traditional and competitive – so it’s good to keep an eye on how they’re doing.

Eventually, when you watch other teams, you get to know who their players and managers are and in the process, expand your overall knowledge of the league. Once you’ve done this, you can expand it further by watching other popular leagues as well as international soccer. This way, you’ll know about all the biggest talents and stars around the world.

“The U.S. is an amazing place to follow football as we have more access to more top leagues globally, and at a very low price, than any nation on earth,” says soccer writer Robert Burns. Take advantage of it. Football is different style wise all across the world and you’ll be a better, more informed fan by following all you can.”

You can even develop some sort of a second team; one which you have a soft spot for but wouldn’t actually want to win against your own team. After all, not many fans will take you seriously if you say you equally support two different teams.

Another way to know more about your own team as well as other teams and leagues around the world is to read blogs by soccer journalists.

Blogs and opinion pieces are a great way of not only expanding your knowledge but learning the background of a player or interesting tidbits about a certain team. ESPN FC is a great source for some of the best blogs written by the most popular journalists and writers in the world.

5. Get social

You now have a team and you are knowledgeable about many different players, teams and leagues. So next, it’s time for your opinion.

Get online and talk with other fans. Debating online with fans is not only a great way of interacting about a sport you love but to be open minded and hear others’ opinions. You may even learn something you never knew before.

“Amazingly. Follow as many solid football brains on Twitter and the game will come to you quickly,” Burns says. “It’s an unbelievable resource for knowledge and the place for breaking news.”

As you read more and more blogs, make comments on the articles, spark up a debate and you’re bound to get replies. A great way of letting your opinion be heard is on Twitter, Facebook groups and especially Reddit. The subreddit, /r/soccer, which has over 300,000 subscribers, is one of the best places to see all the latest goals, highlights, blogs, debates and discussion.

(Taken by Abhinav Kini)

YouTubing old clips. (Taken by Abhinav Kini)

You can take it a step higher and watch old soccer clips on YouTube to learn more about a club’s history, how a certain legend played and more.

With these steps, you can become a soccer fan in no time but remember; many fans take the sport seriously, as if it’s a routine fixture in their life. If you want to be a soccer fan, you have to invest time and be passionate about it.

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.