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Why We Do It: Chanting

By Greg Mockos

It’s a simple, straightforward question and the answer can be simple: “because we love our Sounders!” Great answer, but I want to dig even deeper and provide more context than the typical blinded-by-love answer above that you see incessantly on the forums or on blog comment threads.

In order to get more perspective I think the question needs to be expanded a little bit and changed to: “why does a group of individuals feel compelled to sing songs at a sporting event?” Think about that for a second. It’s a rather odd phenomenon when compared to most social gatherings. It is something that is rather unique to sports in general, but it happens in society quite often mostly in the form of rallies or protests. Fortunately, as Sounders fans, we have the privilege to watch the Sounders play, which typically results in celebration rather than protest.

Even if chanting and singing is present in other sports, in no other sport is it more prevalent than soccer. In soccer, it actually assumes a pivotal role to the game day experience. It is hard to imagine a soccer game without chants or songs. Why has it become such a mainstay at soccer matches? It all began with the formation and organization of groups of fans that over the years developed relationships as they saw each other in the same portions of the stadium on every Sunday (yes-back in the day soccer was always, and almost only, played on Sundays in Europe and going to matches was the post-church activity of choice for most youth). As relationships developed, traditions also developed. Most likely the typical traditions involved reviewing game day rosters, drinking a certain type of beer, or just talking about the pickup game the day before. As time passed and relationships strengthened, the traditions evolved and became more complex. The next likely evolution of the traditions resulted in these groups of fans starting to sing celebratory songs and chants at the football matches. Initially these were merely celebration songs and or cheers for a goal or a player. With time the groups grew in size and became more and more organized and the songs became more elaborate. The songs became anthems, taunts to opposing players and fans, chants rekindling past historic results, and so forth. Eventually the groups identified themselves with names and became aware of their own identity.

This last step in the evolution of these “groups of fans” is the stepping stone to the more organized groups that we know as supporter groups. Now that the supporter group had a clear distinctive identity that was separate from other fans, the groups could grow. And what happens when you have more members? You become louder. Your songs start to be heard on the field by players. Your group’s traditions begin to spread to other fans. The amorphous groans, cheers, and ohs-ahs turn into clearly distinguishable songs that give meaning to a match, encourage the home fans, inspire your players, and ultimately intimidate the other team’s fans and players. Songs are used to show the group’s culture and heritage. Songs are also used to communicate with the players.

In the same way that the chanting culture evolved over the world and as described above, it has evolved here in Seattle. We have all gone to sounders matches, and when we do, we often want to communicate our feelings to the players on the field. We want to be heard by the players. We want to tell them to “come on score a goal”, they want to let the players know that Seattle soccer is about the Sounders by replying to a call of “Seattle” with an emphatic response of “Sounders!” That is the essence of why supporters chant and why we chant at Sounders matches. We love our boys so much that just watching them play is not enough to satiate our passion. We need to encourage them, communicate with them, and at times reprimand them.

For more information on the ECS songs, including lyrics, audio and video or a song card for the next match, check out the songs page on our website! If you share our passion for chanting for the boys and want to join us in the Brougham End, you can request season tickets in the ECS section!

 

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