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New England Revolution: An Ex-Fort Member’s Take on Supporter Culture


A crowd of about 28,000 were on hand to see the New England Revolution defeat NYCFC Saturday night in Foxborough. The figure was the highest of any single Revolution home game so far this season. A crowd that large would make almost any soccer-specific stadium in the United States a blustering fortress. But in Foxborough, the emptiness of the remaining 40,000 seats drained the crowd of its full impact on the game.

The goal of fans and supporters of a club (I use that term loosely with MLS teams) is to show up to games and do exactly that: impact the match in their team’s favor to the fullest extent possible in the stands. This is what separates the supporter from the casual spectator who shows up once in a while to catch a game.

I am a Revolution supporter myself who has stood in The Fort, the standing-only section of the stadium for the team’s three main supporters groups: The Midnight Riders, The Rebellion, and Rev Army, for about 12 years running. I loved the experience as a youngster: the chanting, the camaraderie, and the feeling that my presence was making a difference. It was a kid’s soccer paradise.

As I grew older, however, the place lost its charm. I became more observant of the fan culture in New England and compared it to cultures of other clubs around the world. I became very disinterested in The Fort and, at times, increasingly frustrated.

From Buenos Aires to Manchester and Rome to Melbourne, these supporters had a visible passion for both their club and the game. Why couldn’t we emulate the raw intensity of other atmospheres across the world? What would it take to get The Fort to that level? What was missing?

I simply did not see that same passion in The Fort as I continued to attend games. The little things say a lot, and the story they tell is a disconnection from the actual game.

The same generic chants had not changed since I was a boy. They seemed so forced and repetitive. Sung in monotone with no purpose or motivation, people were just going through the motions. The slow pace at which the chants were sung indicated a certain amount of carelessness and disinterest.

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Rather than being inspired, I felt discouraged.  Subtly remarkable individual plays and beautiful team sequences on the pitch went unnoticed and unappreciated with little or no applause. Flags were flown uninterestedly, as if the weight of the New England colors were too heavy for the bearers (seriously, do we need flag waving classes before seasons?).

Chants were brought up almost as if they appeared on a repeated playlist of ten or so songs. Or, my favorite, singing “RE-VO-LU-TION” half-heartedly for the twentieth time while a player is down with an injury and nothing is happening on the pitch.

Soccer is a passionate game that is full of emotion. These are things that are FELT with the flow of the game and not FORCED. Singing blindly for 90 minutes is not motivating a team. Standing behind them and getting involved in their every movement on the field is.

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The Fort has turned into a social meet-up rather than a place where fans and supporters can share in their passion for the club and the sport. The Fort has become a place where a Revs goal is celebrated with a quick high five to a nearby friend rather than a massive eruption of unbelievably impassioned fans. It has become a place where the continuation of a lousy generic chant takes precedence over immersing oneself in the game and motivating the team in each individual battle on the field.

I expected more progress. I expected a higher game IQ. I expected greater expression of fervor, vehemence, and passion. I am left somewhat disappointed.

More focus needs to be directed to the play and less on trying to muster up an artificial atmosphere. Focus and attention toward the game is the most important ingredient to a passionate fan base. Once this focus has developed, a natural expression of passion will soon develop into an impressive stadium atmosphere.

Next: New England Revolution Defeat NYCFC 1-0; Snap Losing Streak