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No One Cares About This Stuff July 26, 2009

Posted by Master Shake in General blog.
7 comments

I’m not really sure what to make of the past two years writing pennsarmy.com. This was never a serious discussion about soccer; mostly it was a series of vignettes framed around soccer.  It was also about the impact of devoting a lot of time to one topic. Over the past two years, there has been a lot of upheaval in my own life, and I think subconsciously this colors a lot of what I write about. In the end, I think it’s about venting, more than anything.

Maybe I just like stirring the pot and stoking the flames, trying to get the reader to think critically even if it does seem somewhat inelegant and sophomoric at times. But that’s the point; I don’t take myself too seriously, I don’t take the soccer too seriously, and I certainly don’t take being a fan too seriously – although I tried in the beginning. That ended once I realized I didn’t want to be one of those American soccer fans who are way too invested in liking something simply because it is beyond the frame of reference of most American sports fans. Frankly, I like football more than futbol…the thing is, there isn’t much interesting in writing about being a football fan, whereas soccer fans are enigmatic in a really, really annoying way.

Like that singular Galaxy fan who got into it with Beckham this past week in LA. I honestly don’t understand this about American soccer fans, the need to emulate foreign fan examples. They give themselves names (like “Riot Squad”, “Aggros of Buffalo” and, yes, “Penn’s Army”), bring scarves to games, use terms like “nil” and “tilt”, and then, like our friend in LA, attempt to get aggressive. But notice while this idiot was running toward the field, the rest of his “Riot Squad” sat on their hands. Some hooligans they are! More American than they would like to admit.

It doesn’t work here; it’s a false paradigm. It’s not based upon history or social class or cultural divisions. It’s clever fakery, in the same way Las Vegas builds an Eiffel Tower or Manhattan skyline in the desert. These are not lower-middle-class, blue collar street toughs; quite the opposite. They are physically frustrated middle and upper middle class, educated, white-collar people. So in a nutshell what I’m saying is that most fans in American soccer supporters groups are probably poseurs. They reject all of the things that make American fans unique in favor of some pre-packaged idea of how they are supposed to act. While they crave Euro-snob street cred, they’ve actually dumbed the sport down to a bunch of clichés: scarves, chants, flags, jargon and laughable aggressive behavior.

Which is exactly the reason Penn’s Army switched from a supporters group to just a blog. I was faking it a bit, too. I am much more comfortable being my American self. I don’t need all that other stuff to validate me as a soccer fan, even if I don’t take it too seriously.

Is Bruce Dickenson the future of Penns Army?

Is Bruce Dickenson the future of Penn's Army?

Which brings me to a more in-depth examination of pennsarmy.com. Right now I’m closing in on 18,000 views since November 2007. I think that’s actually pretty good. I’ve gotten some good feedback, been involved in some decent internet-based cage matches with opposing players and fans, PA Stoners management and NPSL brass. All-in-all, the response has been more than I expected. But then I come back to that number, 18,000. “Seems great on the surface,” I think to myself, “but something doesn’t seem quite right”.

Something is definitely NOT right. WordPress has a handy statistic feature, which I’ve written about once before, that can tell you all kinds of neat stuff, like how many people visited the site in one day, one week, one month and so on. It will also tell you what search engine terms were used to find your site. For example, today’s breakdown for pennsarmy.com is as follows:

megan fox fashion 4
nanoo nanoo 4
penns army 1
megan fox shops 1
wicket ewok 1
envy megan fox 1
ewok wicket 1
techno dance party music 1
funny kittys 1

Technically, thats 6 for Megan Fox, 4 for Mork from Ork, 2 for Ewoks, and oh yes, 1 for Penn’s Army. All-time, Ewoks rate much higher, capturing 2/3 of all-time search engine terms. I guess Megan Fox was popular today. Regardless, the number of people actually looking for this site was on par with quotes from Philip Michael Thomas. That doesn’t say much, except that I borrow heavily from 1980s pop-culture.

Where am I going with all of this? I don’t know yet. Unless something drastic happens with the Snow, NPSL or soccer in eastern PA in general, I’m leaning toward discontinuing Penn’s Army. Guess I have to wait and see what my readers have to say. Should I continue on? Or should I switch to, say, a 1980s heavy metal format? Or maybe something about my new field of study, Instructional Technology?

Does it matter to anyone but me?

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