Joe Brown: A public serving of crow
So I think most of us have said stupid stuff on social media before.
Lord knows I have. In this particular case, let me take you back to July 1, 2014.
It was the 2014 World Cup and the U. S. team had just been eliminated in a 2-1 heartbreaker against Belgium in the Round of 16.
Me, never really being into soccer and wanting to be a smart aleck, decided to post on Facebook.
"All right, everyone," I wrote, "back to your regularly-scheduled not giving a (REDACTED) about soccer."
Looking back five years later, this rightfully elicited some negative responses, namely from an old high school friend named David. He was a soccer player when we were in school and is to this day a big proponent of the sport. He took umbrage to me belittling a sport he loves.
It was around this time that rumors were swirling about Minnesota getting a Major League Soccer team and I ended the long thread with the following: "If (soccer in Minnesota) catches on, I'll be more than happy to go and (David) can feed me all the crow he wishes (not like I need to eat anymore in my life.)"
Five years later, there's a napkin on my lap. There's sweat coming off the ice water glass and something a little gamey is on the grill.
Here's where I eat crow, because I went to a soccer game for Minnesota's MLS franchise.
And it was the most fun I've had at a sporting event.
At the newly-opened Allianz Field in St. Paul on May 4, I took in the game between Minnesota United and the Seattle Sounders in what ended up being a 1-1 tie.
The score never mattered because there was too much enjoyment to be had.
There was an actual tailgating culture in a Minnesota sport where people could be chummy with some food truck snacks and an adult beverage that was in front of the stadium instead of a random overpriced parking lot blocks away.
The diehard fans marched into the stadium as the gates opened. That boded well for myself and my friend Samantha. We were fortunate to have seats in the general admission fan section.
I figured if you're going to experience something for the first time, may as well go into it head first.
Instead of my paranoid thoughts of being in a swarm of fans that'd be protective of newbies ruining their vibe, the fans were downright pleasant. I can't say as much for the refs, but I digress.
We were seated next to a fan who had followed the Loons since the days of the NSC Minnesota Stars back at the National Sports Center in Blaine. In the pre-game and throughout the next two hours, he kindly explained the chants and the history of both the team and the fan sections. He even had answers about the flags that were flying throughout the section.
We had plenty of stupid questions but he was never insulted by anything we asked.
"No, there's no stupid questions," I was told after apologizing for anything eye-rolling that we asked.
So, we spent the 90-plus minutes of game time singing and chanting with the fans and riding the ebbs and flows of the game from Ike Opara's header for a goal in the 26th minute to Darwin Quintero's late-game runs as time was running out. The smoke bombs that were lit periodically did make my contacts burn and my knees and back hated me the next day. That's the price of a fun time.
My (poorly worded) point I wanted to make in 2014 was my annoyance with fans that got swept up in World Cup hoopla while ignoring soccer abroad with MLS. In my eyes, how could the sport grow here when all anyone cared about was either: A.) the World Cup every four years; or B.) the Premier League overseas?
Saturday was proof that people really do care. And they're happy to bring uninformed rubes like myself along to have a grand time.
So one of these days, I'll have to buy David a beverage, perhaps a ticket to a game.
I won't split the crow, though. I kinda deserve to be eating that.