Let’s talk about sportsmanship.If you’re a fan, there are not a lot of things you can’t do. Throwing bottles at athletes, death threats and anything involving bodily fluids is generally taboo. Otherwise you are free to express yourself through whatever colorful language you prefer, whether it is screamed as the opposing quarterback comes through the tunnel, or tastefully scribed upon a big piece of tag board – as tastefully as George Carlin’s Seven Words can be scribed upon a piece of tag board, anyways.Generally, if you’re not dumping beer on Shane Victorino or throwing hot dogs at Chuck Knoblauch, you’re operating within the realm of reason. Unless you’re in Canada, I guess.Arthur Schafer, a columnist at The Globe and Mail, a Toronto-based newspaper, has a different view of fan sportsmanship. He doesn’t draw the line at foul language, or making suggestions about what a given player likes to use his mouth for in his spare time. For Schafer, his “you shall not pass” condition is when fans cheer too loudly at football games when the visiting team has the ball on offense.Yeah, I know. He’s got to be joking, right?I’m not. The column is titled, “It’s okay for football fans to cheer. But not so loudly.”I’ll give you a minute to let that digest, then another for you to finish laughing or screaming in disbelief. Whichever you prefer.It’s okay, Mr. Schafer. You’re always entitled to your opinion – even if it’s wrong.Any good fan knows there are three times to get very loud during a football game: after a big play, after a touchdown and every damn second the opposing team even thinks about running a play on offense.Apparently, “That’s cheating, isn’t it”? Schafer, a philosophy professor at the University of Manitoba doesn’t find it fair that a home team should enjoy the advantage of thousands of drunken Canadians (redundant?) drowning out a snap count.I think I know two things about Canadians. One, they’re very good at hockey. Two, they’re way too nice for their own good – unless hockey is involved; then they’ll fight you to the death.These two over-generalized notions of Canadians are backed by my having grown up in Minnesota – or “South Canada” as it is sometimes mistakenly called. Minnesotans are generally the same – great at hockey, too nice.However, you’d be hard pressed to find a single Minnesotan in the ‘Dome’ that leaves a Vikings-Packers game with a throat that doesn’t sound like it was ravaged by 40 years of smoking and tuberculosis. And clearly every Canadian not named Arthur Schafer knows how to be the “13th man on the field.”Canadian football is 12-on-12, so luckily for him, that’s not another erroneous statement.For all I know, the whole article was a joke. Maybe the plea for Canadian football’s brass to curtail the unfair cheering of a home stadium’s fans is completely tongue-in-cheek. He is a philosophy professor after all; have you ever heard a philosopher tell a joke? Can you say, “over my head”?At this point, I could begin to wax about the great benefits associated with loud, raucous fans. I could also make note of how said loud, raucous fans are typically absent from certain sections of Camp Randall until the second quarter or so. But that’s petty of me, and I’m not going to tell you how to spend your game day. But if you look up “loud raucous fans” in a dictionary, you’re going to be redirected to “home-field advantage.”What we can do is take a look at what home-field advantage means.Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated took an interesting look at the matter in the MLB playoffs. According to Sheehan’s research, having home-field throughout the entirety of October only gives you an 8-percent boost in odds.The AL Central might dispute the claim that home-field doesn’t matter. The Minnesota Twins went 1-1 in Game 163s in the past two years. Against the White Sox in ’08, they fell victim to a pitching duel ruined by a black-and-white-clad Jim Thome at U.S. Cellular field. Against the Tigers last season, they won the crazy kind of game that you usually only win at home.The Colorado Rockies also knew; they won a one-game playoff over San Diego in 2007 – at Coors Field.Going back to the gridiron, the Wisconsin football team is 26-3 at Camp Randall since Bret Bielema became head coach. Of course, a lot of those games came against the likes of “Where is Wofford”? and Cal “extra-point” Poly. But there were wins over ranked Michigan State and Michigan teams as well. A big part of those 26 wins at home? It’s that unsportsmanlike home-field advantage.“We want it to be ridiculous. If you can’t hear, that’s better for us,” UW safety Jay Valai said. “That’s home-field advantage.”Are you sure, Jay? Do the Badgers really want 81,000-plus fans screaming like it’s Judgment Day on every third down?“That’s exactly what we want this weekend… If our fans can get as loud as possible this week, that’s definitely playing into our favor,” linebacker Culmer St. Jean said.Against an Arizona State spread offense that likes to rattle off lots of plays and relies on lots of communication – both from the sideline and at the line of scrimmage – some extra noise could be very disruptive. Enough to burn some timeouts or cause some false starts, even. Against a BCS opponent, the fans will be sure to bring the noise.But that just wouldn’t be fair, right?Adam is a senior majoring in journalism. What is it about home-field advantage? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the months following Vela’s signing, the club’s emphasis on Latino fans became clear. The official supporters’ group crafted chants in Spanish as well as English, borrowing concepts from Liga MX and the Premier League alike. The team’s events took place at staple sites in downtown L.A., at Randy’s Donuts and Pink’s Hot Dogs and dollar stores alike. The club even released a jersey for Steven Beitashour scripted in Farsi, the Iranian defender’s first language. You can learn everything you need to know about the Los Angeles Football Club within five minutes of stepping foot in its stadium. It’s only been a year, but LAFC has already earned the right to say that it is the soccer club of Los Angeles. Sure, this team is the new kid on the block, but the tired nobility in Carson has been losing steam for ages, and the glitter of imported European stars will only keep the blood pumping for so much longer. As the Major League Soccer season approaches this weekend, the two teams will start the second leg of their fight for Los Angeles, and LAFC is poised to take the city. The MLS tried to recapture Latino fans in Los Angeles in the past with Chivas USA, an off-shoot of a Liga MX club, but that venture fell through. This time, however, LAFC made certain these fans weren’t missed. The club’s first signing was Carlos Vela, a Mexican national team star fondly referred to as “Carlito” by many Mexican fans. His acquisition was an incredible tactical move — he led the team in goals and assists last year despite missing a month of the season for the World Cup — and he also helped solidify Mexican fan support for the club. That momentum comes from the club’s mentality off the field, built off the motto that it was founded on — street by street, block by block, one by one. The club centered itself in this ideal before construction on its stadium began and, in the process, conquered the most important battle in winning dominance in the city — capturing Latino fans. The club’s outreach programs truly worked street by street to create a network of fans in the heart of Los Angeles. LAFC recognized everything that the Galaxy did wrong — it didn’t plant itself in a suburb rather than in the city and didn’t appeal to a white “family friendly” ideal rather than to the Latino community that dominates local soccer fandom. In the past year, I’ve seen enough of this club to know that it has legs. Something is different with LAFC. Its stadium has the hum of a championship team, the buzz of a storied club. The power that it holds among its fans is already greater and deeper than that held by the Galaxy, and if the club keeps winning, that momentum will only build. Banc of California Stadium is gleaming, especially when its facade catches the glow of a Los Angeles sunset. Yet it’s the energy within the bowl of the stadium that truly defines this club. Specifically, the north end of the stadium is a sheer wall of standing-room-only pandemonium. By kick-off, this section is filled with 3,252 fans with painted faces and flags that won’t stop waving until long after the final whistle. To watch an LAFC game is to experience a cacophony of black and gold. I’ve covered LAFC since its stadium was just a skeleton, since its roster consisted of three players. I was drenched in beer in the supporters section when Laurent Ciman scored the first-ever goal on the team’s home turf. I’ve seen fans outlast an hours-long rain delay, roaring chants and beating drums even when the thunder drowned them out. Julia Poe is a senior writing about her personal connection to sports. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs weekly on Thursdays. It’s hard to say what will happen if LAFC doesn’t keep winning, but one thing is for sure — this team hasn’t been around for long, but it’s certainly here to stay. The result has been a beautiful fan experience completely molded by a fanbase as colorful and vibrantly unique as Los Angeles itself. Fans wave the Korean, Vietnamese, Uruguayan and Mexican flags alongside the LAFC flags in the stands during games, and chants are sung in a mix of Spanish and English, with other fans quickly picking up the new language. LAFC is a celebration of this city’s rich history, its overlapping cultures and a common thread that brings them together — the game of soccer. In truth, LAFC and the L.A. Galaxy didn’t finish last season that far apart. The Galaxy ended the season just below the red line, missing the playoffs, but there were only three games of difference between the two teams. Yet week in and week out, it felt as if LAFC had much more to work with, mainly because the club’s fans were so desperately, unyieldingly loud in their support.