Guest Post by Fletcher Sharpe (Follow him on Twitter)
I used to play soccer when I was young in Grosse Pointe, in the Grosse Pointe Soccer Association…and I hated every minute of it. I played with kids who either took the game too seriously, or their parents had so much money (Fords) that they didn’t care at all. I escaped soccer for prep school football, and totally fast-tracked my body to science by standing in there and taking hits from men twice my size, because, you know….football. But still I preferred football to soccer, as I felt the passion in the eggshape sport was just…something to bathe in, and watching my classmates who had a lot of money (kinda like the Fords) really bothered me a lot. I could call someone a few choice words, and it just be passed over, where as with soccer, I’d see them look at another and go down as if someone sent a laser strike from the heavens. Fast forward to 2010, and the first World Cup in a while where the USMNT actually looked dangerous…and I hated them. So much. Still do. I cheered heavily as Ghana roared…well, squeaked, past them.
All of these things have something in common: I had no one to cheer for/play with who I identified with. I thank Max Kendall (Twitter’s own @Maxplatypus) so much for his invitation to play on Midtown FC of the Detroit City Futbol League because it opened my eyes to people who look like me. I could go to Belle Isle and see people I could identify with, and laugh with, and drink with, and do other things with. But I still had no team to root for. I had some players to root for ALLLLLL THE WAYYYYYYY INNNNNN EUROPE, but I had no one in the United States to root for.
I heard about the Michigan Bucks, so I checked them out, before I started writing for them. With no disrespect to the owner, who is a very classy and likable man who treated me with nothing but respect, I did not enjoy covering that team. The players, while very talented, were very plastic. No personalities. There was no fan presence. Only 3 people actively cheered, while everyone else tended to their children who constantly ran along the sidelines. The only game I attended that had more that 400 people was the game where the Bucks beat the Chicago Fire. The atmosphere was electric and I was pleased. I thought this would maybe allow for more people, but alas, it dropped back to 100 the next game…and the game after that….and after that.
So when I heard about Detroit City FC, I was happy but sad. I was happy there would be a team in Detroit, but I was sad, because I was certain it would be another team I would grow to hate, as while they are from Detroit, they aren’t “from Detroit” (*cough* Red Wings *cough*). I can admit this: I, Fletcher Sharpe, was wrong. So wrong. Not only are there players who look like me and are relatable to me, the fans actually care. They are loud, they are passionate, and they wear their emotions on their sleeves….sometimes literally. Sometimes they care too much, but that’s fine.
They’re also crazy. I wrote an article on FC Sparta’s possible challenge to Detroit City FC’s stranglehold on soccer in the area. Within 3 days, my article was torn apart by 4 people, and I was crowned as a fan of theirs. Again, they are crazy, but it’s their passion that is the most interesting dynamic. It worried me, but it worried me in the good way. I was frightened about showing up to Cass (silly, I know), but in a excited frightened way (crazy, I know).
To sum up this entire jumble of words, Detroit City FC is a reflection of me. It is a grind-it-out organization from the city and for the city, and for that I am eternally appreciative of it and its existence. While I am a member of the media and (technically) not allowed to pick a side, I will say I wouldn’t be too sad to see the NPSL finals held here at Cass Tech.
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Fletcher Sharpe’s work can also be found on MLive. His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org