Second Life ist braun-weiß!

On the Pitch

Oy! Referee!! Weren’t you lookin’? That was a yellow card at the least!!

So, what am I doing on my, uh, posterior in such an undignified pose? Very simple; I’m talking about politics.

Well, in part I may be, but more on that below. First, a rambling explanation….

I may have been born in the home of both the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Detroit Lions, lived for a time in the Gator Nation, and now reside within an hour’s drive of the Crimson Tide of the University Alabama1, but I attended Rollins College, where the traditional fall game for years was soccer.  The Tars usually field good teams, too; in this past season, the men’s team finished 10-4-2, and the women placed second on the NCAA Division II list with a record of 20-3.

Soccer in America used to be a difficult thing, what with our general preference — especially in the South — for this strange, over-ruled game we call “football.”  But that has been changing over the years, what with kids in many areas participating in junior-league soccer.  Add on our hosting of World Cup 1994, and the frequent success of the USA Women’s National Soccer Team, with two Women’s World Cup wins and seven regional champion in CONCACAF2, and you can see why soccer is gradually catching on.  The long-term success of North America’s Major League Soccer over some twenty years also helps, with twenty teams currently in the league and two more expansion teams entering by 2017.

In fact, I now have a “home-town” team, in a sense, because I did live in or near Orlando for years.  Orlando has competed in various leagues since 1985, beginning with the Orlando Lions (sometimes known as FC Orlando).  They are now represented by Orlando City SC, still called the Lions; in their years in the USL PRO, they proved quite successful, and have moved up to Major League Soccer as an expansion team, with the coming of a Brazilian money man and the breaking of ground on a dedicated stadium.  Orlando City will play their first MLS game on March 8, against another expansion team, New York City FC, and I’m hoping to attend it on a brief vacation break.  (If I can manage it, I’ll find a way to Wear More Purple, though I won’t be in the endzone area with the “super boosters.”)

Until then, and even after, I stand by the collection of European soccer clubs I’ve become interested in, such as Napoli, Ajax (Amsterdam), Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon, France) and several others, including in Germany3.  One is Schalke 04; and the Royal Blues are doing very well in the top-level Bundesliga this year.  But another is in the 2. Bundesliga, and is actually stuck on the bottom of the standings right now — which means, under promotion-and-relegation rules, they will move down to the 3. Liga if they don’t bring themselves up by three rungs and stay there before the end of the season.  And yet the fans love St. Pauli, also known as the Buccaneers of the League, or simply the Boys in Brown and White.  And I am a fan, which is why I’m wearing their “kit” while I’m contemplating the sins of the opponent who just fouled me like no one’s business (grrrrr!).

Fußball-Club St. Pauli von 1910 e.V. is the club of the working-class Sankt Pauli district of Hamburg.  Their stadium is located near the Reeperbahn — the red-light district.  But that only indirectly influences the popularity of St. Pauli among its fans.  It’s so popular largely because they haven’t given over to the super-commercialization that many claim infects world soccer these days, especially in Europe and the British Isles.  Oh, they have their sponsors — the main sponsor’s logo is right across the front of my jersey.  But mostly, St. Pauli belongs to the fans, and has since about the 1990s as a reaction to the right-wing and neo-Nazi hooligans who were starting to infect pitches across the continent back then.  St. Pauli became home for progressives and farther left-leaning types who wanted to have a place where you could still get a good game of football, and the team adopted them back.  The team also adopted guiding principles that enshrine their sense of social responsibility to the area and the world, including condemnation of fascism, sexism, racism and homophobia.

Fans

The fans in full run at a game. Yes, that’s Che on one flag! Home games open up with AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” and Blur’s “Song 2” is played after every home goal.  (Photographer unknown; photo on Facebook.)

totenkopf

The skull-and-crossbones, or totenkopf, became a fan symbol in the 1990s when the progressives adopted St. Pauli as their own, and has quite a story behind it. The main fan bar in Hamburg is the Jolly Roger, right on the Reeperbahn. The club later adopted the totenkopf themselves as a secondary symbol, and you can buy gear with the skull on it via the fan shop. (Photographer unknown; photo on Facebook.)

 

 

V Darmstadt

Going after the ball in a 2014 game against Darmstadt (in blue). (Photographer unknown; photo on Facebook.)

While not as left-leaning as many of St. Pauli’s fans (and not given to punk music), I do consider myself a center-progressive, and welcome St. Pauli to my home in Second Life.  No, they’re not the greatest of teams (all the time, at least; but they have had some fantastic years, and did compete in the top ranks several times).  But they don’t need to be; the focus here is on the football, not the paycheck; and they have a feel for the needs of the world around them, including in the world at large, as do their fans.  So I shout, “Forza Sankt Pauli!!” and wish them well.

Club English site

Wikipedia

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1 In fact, my daughter attends the University, and is midway through her second year.

2 The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.

3 Curiously, I have little to no interest in the English Premiere League; too big and too rich and too overpromoted, especially the New York Yankees of the league, Manchester United.  (Manny U has even started putting their logo on car tires, which are liable to get slashed in some rival teams’ cities around England with particularly insane opposition fans.)

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