I was messing around and came across a Betfair promo for soccer betting. It seems they have set up a television/web show with five dudes who really like soccer and each has a favourite team. I watched the promo, called "The Betfair Front Room". It looked kind of neat, however I could not understand what they were saying; and 'West Ham' does not mean much to me unless I am eating a sandwich in California.
The idea did strike me with some thoughts though about here in North America.
I have a friend who is a huge Steeler fan. So much so he is annoying. Jack Lambert this and Franco Harris that. Like, enough already. When I went to a game with him recently in Detroit he actually bought me a Terrible Towel. It turns out he frequents a site called Steeler Nation (pretty original huh?) where all these Steeler fans gather to chat about how good their team is. At the game he met up with some of these "nation" people and they were all wearing their gear and telling us how great the Steelers were.
Sometimes the site is infiltrated with Browns fans like this one (sorry no link, I got sent it in an email), "I love being from an underdog, disrespected city like Cleveland -- especially compared to the other AFC North locales. Consider what we're up against: Pittsburgh: America's crotch. Literally one of the worst cities on the planet. Full of toothless mountain people. Looks from above as if someone decided, "You know what I'm going to do? Cut out a huge chunk of one of the worst sections of Eastern Europe and drop it in the middle of Pennsylvanian Appalachia." At the end of the day, the Cleveland Browns suck, but at least we're not from Pittsburgh."
Take that. And he does. Then he, or someone else from the "nation", tells the dude that Pittsburgh has won 347 Super Bowls (or whatever it is), recites Terry Bradshaw's quarterback rating from each one of them, and what player once helped a child from a burning building (or some other Steeler folklore).
So what's my point? I don't know really. But it seems to me the passion by sports fans for soccer in the UK, or football over here trumps anything I see in racing. I don't see people calling Rachel Alexandra names because they like Zenyatta. I don't see the 4 claimer who lost last week at Pocono being heckled near the paddock. I don't see anyone swinging a $44 terrible towel in Jess Jackson's colours.
Maybe it is because we are not really a sport, in the truest sense of the word. We are a collection of bettors, and fans, and horse owners, and trainers, and drivers, and grooms. We all like betting, or horses, and we watch them race and cheer, but it is not the same level as in real sports leagues. I don't think it ever will be like that.
But sometimes I wonder - I am looking more forward to the Breeders Cup this weekend, (and enjoyed the Breeders Crown last weekend more) than any football weekend. Maybe I am nuts? I guess you can be a fan without calling someone names, or wearing their shirt, or being like my buddy from Pittsburgh. But regardless, it sure feels different being a racing fan.