The view from my place in the stadium
It was roughly 9 p.m. when we made it to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. We were about 10 minutes late for the famed match between Roma and rivals Juventus led by famed Cristiano Ronaldo. An American football and basketball fan my whole life, I have often discredited soccer within my personal sports fandom. However, when in Rome, I felt obliged to attend a game following my peers’ enthusiasm and interest in the cultural sports phenomenon of European soccer.
As we arrived, the outside of the stadium felt deserted as communal energy radiated from inside the pitch’s walls. There were no straggling drunkards late for the game or clueless fans wandering around for a hotdog. No, in Italy, such practice has no place in a cultural event that is a soccer, excuse me, football, match.
Inside the walls of the famed stadium, upward of 60,000 fans packed the seats with an aura of enthusiasm and fandom unmatched by any American sporting event I have ever attended. Truly, no premier NBA, NFL, or CFB game I had ever attended could rival such a vibrant scene. In Europe, soccer encompasses so much more than just sport. It has an unmatched sense of culture, heritage, and history that just resonates differently with its seemingly rabid fans.
The game wasn’t accessorized with a fancy jumbotron, commercial breaks, or some arbitrary noise meter that urged fans to get up and raise the decibel to glass-shattering levels. These spectators didn’t need any artificial conditioning to vocalize their presence on the pitch. All passes, penalties, shots, and especially goals were met with fans’ roars from the packed stadium throughout the entire 90 minutes.
While Juventus beat Roma 2-1, the spirit and enthusiasm I witnessed that day were remarkable. Rabid fans, £5 beers, a bathroom that wasn’t a shitshow, and an overall communal atmosphere proved to me that European soccer is the pinnacle of sports. I urge you all to check out a game and be caught up in the pure energy of sports fandom that never ceases to amaze.