I have been reading and hearing a lot of comments about the crowd reaction to the June 18th World Cup Qualifier, and what went wrong. Here's my thoughts and experience with the crowd.
I am a sec 20 STH, and was in 29 for this game. For most the of game, I felt the cheers and chants were pretty consistent. Seemed to me, though, that we’d start chanting, usually USA, USA, or ole, ole, ole, ole, US of A, and by the time sections on down the line joined in we were out of breath. Also seemed to do the same when sections next to us started, and we would join in just for them to stop. I don’t know about anyone else, but I got really tired of chanting the same thing over and over again. I absolutely loved my experience being there, and thought the crowd did ok. I did think it could have been better. We had some guys down front, just a couple rows ahead of me, I think they were supporter group-not sure, that kept trying to lead new chants. This was great, the only problem was the chants were too involved, too many words/lines and we couldn’t make out what they were saying. So we just sat there silently looking at them with those confused looks on our faces. Other times, I felt like we would all be going just to get to an "OMG, what are you DOING?!?!" moment and it would quiet us, lest we start berating our team instead of cheering them. Not a lot of those moments, but a few, left us standing with hands on our faces instead of cheering.
On the one hand it was disappointing, because I have heard only 10,000 people at an Open Cup match get louder than that. And from game to game for RSL, I feel about the same amount of love coming thru. So is that bad? I don’t know, I guess we should be louder for our national team, but we have had time for the love of RSL to run deep. We haven’t had that same time (for a lot of us there, but not all. I do realize people there were from all over) to develop that same level for our national team.
On the other hand, that was AMAZING to be there, gave me goose bumps, and even my five year old autistic niece was cheering and chanting and waving her scarf with the best of them, and that, I will never forget. There was one stretch of time, the Honduras drums were going behind us, and sec 29 and maybe one of the sections next to us kept chanting USA whenever the drums were beat. Don’t know if people didn’t realize those were Honduras drums, or if they did and we all thought we’d just try to drown out the drum, but I liked it, and tell myself we were just being better than the drums. The crowd tried, and I generally heard at least one section going the entire time. All in all, good job Salt Lake. Let’s just do it better next time. Maybe hand out some home team chants on the programs? Cue them on the board?
Also, my section was largely contributing to the YSA. I have never minded the chant before, could take it or leave it. But having my niece there, who is autistic…she’s fine when she hears that last word from people, or on tv. But having it yelled out so loud by so many people really scared her. Now, I can totally do without the chant. She loves soccer, loved going, I’d hate for her to miss it, because people can’t agree to stop one meaningless chant.