Welcome to the refreshed RSL Soapbox! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
The 1990-91 Bundesliga season was significant for a number of reasons. That year, FC Kaiserslautern won their first Bundesliga by three points over the previous year’s champion FC Bayern Munich, who had won the previous two and had eleven at that point. That season would be the last to feature only clubs from West Germany, due to the reunification of the nation on October 3rd of that year.
It would also be the year that my attention was turned to soccer for the first time. Sixth grade was the year at my school where we got to choose a foreign language to learn, and I chose German, one of the languages of my ancestors. Our teacher had lived in Germany for a number of years, and was fluent in the language as well as familiar with the culture, and he immersed us in everything Germany.
Naturally, this included a solid helping of “fußball”, complete with part of the whiteboard dedicated to holding the current Bundesliga table. Every student chose a team to follow, and we watched our favorites move up and down the list each week as we read through the scores. I chose my team by picking the one that played in my favorite city and state, and whose name I thought sounded the coolest. I didn’t know who Bayern was, but I soon learned the mid to late 90’s were a great time to be a supporter.
Most importantly, I learned about the passion that Germans have for their favorite sport, and the dedication they show to their teams through good and bad times. I had to wait 15 years to experience it myself, but MLS expanded into Salt Lake in 2005 and I finally had a club to get behind just like the culture I had admired for so long. I still love Bayern and the Bundesliga, but Real Salt Lake is my number one passion in sports now.
It’s been quite a ride since for the RSL Family. The tough first years followed by the high of winning MLS Cup in 2009. The high standard of play and success in the “golden years” that followed. Two more close calls on silverware in 2013, and the harder times that have come since. I became a season ticket holder in 2012, and I always will have them. The only time I’ve missed a match since was because of a few weeks I spent in the hospital in 2014, but I did get a visit from Chris Wingert and a ball signed by the team.
Which highlights another reason I am a supporter. It’s not just the game, or the success alone which keeps my interest, it’s the culture surrounding the team and the type of people it attracts. The players fall in love with our state and our fan base, and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.
It’s also great to see the amazing growth the club is seeing right now. The first team is moving into its second decade and reinventing itself as it tries to get back to the top of MLS. Our developmental team is having its best season ever three years in, and providing a great opportunity for so many players. The women’s team is playing their fifth season and continually finishing near the top of their league, and has a championship of their own in the second tier of women’s soccer in America. The club is investing in the future of soccer in Utah by building a dedicated academy facility and integrating the youth development with the competitive teams, mirroring the setups that I’ve seen for years in the country that first taught me about the game.
I’m so grateful that Mr. Guinn shared his love of soccer with us as students, and for everyone involved with the entire Real Salt Lake organization for building this family that I get to spend my weekends with. It’s a love and passion that I get to have with me for the rest of my life, and no matter what our place in the table is I will put on my Claret-and-Cobalt and stand around the pitch at the RioT or any other field and support my teams.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.