As a longtime Michigan Football fan, I’ve been a reader of MGoBlog for over a decade. I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated the in-depth, intelligent, nuanced content produced by Brian Cook and his team. In my opinion it’s by far the best team-specific sports blog on the Internet, and was one of my main sources of inspiration when I started BIR three years ago. In many ways what I’ve been aiming for is to be the “MGoBlog” of Detroit City FC.
So I was taken aback when I read Brian’s utter contempt for City and its supporters in this recent post:
Nothing is more annoying about DCFC than this. Detroit is a name frequently proposed for MLS expansion because it makes a ton of sense. It’s an excellent sports town and it’s smack dab in the middle of the Toronto-Chicago-Columbus triangle. But Detroit City is vehemently opposed:
…for this team and its passionate supporters, being included would have also presented another conundrum: DCFC’s identity is homegrown and supporters say it would disintegrate under MLS’ sanitized fan control policies.
For them, the only way to keep growing soccer in Detroit, the only way they saw the sport as having a real future here, was to keep it community and supporter-focused. The Detroit sports landscape, Wright said, was too treacherous for any team to turn their back on that model.
That is absurdly self-important and aloof. Many MLS environments are excellent and homegrown because the league was able to establish a détente with existing fans. The league has done a terrific job of crossing over from Family Fun to actually fun environments in Toronto, Seattle, and Portland.
The same can happen in Detroit, because the DCFC hardcore are not 1) particularly numerous and 2) the only soccer fans in the city. If DCFC wants to finish out of the playoff slots in the NPSL because MLS would frown on them saying “fuck” 300 times in a 90 minute match, that’s their prerogative. It should have no impact on MLS’s decision to come to Detroit or not. There’s no reason the two teams can’t coexist since they serve different markets. One will draw the interest of soccer fans; the other will draw the interest of people who like to act tough and watch colored smoke instead of soccer.
The argument that City supporters don’t care about soccer and only go to matches to get drunk and cosplay as European ultras is brought up by our detractors over and over, and each time it gets more tiresome. There may be some supporters for whom this is absolutely true, but for the core of NGS, the dress, smoke and tifo displays, etc. are simply expressions of our love for the club and the ways in which we choose to support it. We create the atmosphere in celebration of what happens on the field, not independent of it. If drawing attention to ourselves in turn makes more people aware of City, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do from the very beginning.