All this World Cup broohaha has got me wondering: Why don’t we have hooligans in the United States? Not soccer hooligans, obviously. We barely have soccer. But sports hooligans in general?
Movies and the Internet have taught me that in other countries, especially England, every soccer team has a “firm” of hooligans who get into fights with opposition fans. The US has nothing like this. Raider fans are close, but that’s just one team, and they’re not exactly organized, not the way these hooligan firms are.
I’m really kind of fascinated by this. Here are my theories:
- We’ve got the guns: You don’t see that much brawling in the US because there is always the fear someone’s gonna have a gun and turn a harmless barroom punchup into a massacre.
- We have more than one sport: Soccer is king in most other countries. The US has football, baseball, basketball and hockey to divide our attentions. Having different outlets for fandom keeps the crazy in check.
- Teams are more spread out: The city of London has dozens of pro soccer clubs, including five in the Premiership. This means the fans are rubbing up against one another. Imagine if the Red Sox and Yankees played in the same town.
- We pretend we don’t have a class system: In many cities around the world with more than one club, it’ll be decided that one club is for posh people, another for the proletariat; one is for Protestants, the other for Catholics, etc. The teams are therefore an even greater extension of your identity. In the US, people don’t proudly cling to their class. If anything, it’s the opposite: If you’re rich, you’d want to root for the working class team to prove you’re not a snob. If you’re poor, you’d want to be associated with the perceived team of wealth.