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Brews and Views Essay Series: Why American Soccer?

We continue our new series on the Free Beer Movement. It's called "Brews and Views" and we pose a question or topic to various prominent soccer persons and, well, they give us their view on it.

We've got loads of get people that have already responded to our call for essay submissions and each week we'll feature a unique perspective on the current topic/question at hand. Kicking it off (pun intended) we're asking our respondents the question, "Why American soccer?".

As inhabitants of the U.S. of A we've got loads of soccer viewing options and limited amount of time. We want our panel of essayists to make their case as to why the American version of the world's game is the one we should all invest in.

Regularly readers know where we stand on this issue. Buy American. It's ours. Build and shape it so it ranks as one of the premier leagues in the world.

The series will include such diverse voices as former U.S. Men's National Team player Alexi Lalas, The Shin Guardian, MatchFit USA's Jason Davis, Church of Soccer, Nutmeg Radio, FutFanatico, MLS Insider, and many, many more.

Interested in submitting your own answer to the question, "Why American soccer?", then send us an email with your response. Please keep your submission to under 1000 words (that's like 2.5 pages typed!) and include a picture that you feel goes well with your response. Send it to freebeermovement(at)gmail(dot)com.

 
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By Chris Billig / "Gay 4 Soccer"

Why American soccer?
 
Because no other sports culture is such a testament to its nation’s great diversity.
 
America is a nation of immigrants, and true to that tradition, Major League Soccer is a league of immigrants. At the start of the 2011 season, 38 percent of players on the league’s rosters were born outside of the United States and Canada, adding the first players from China and Israel and representing 57 nations in total. These figures make the MLS the most diverse league in our country. Clubs get high marks when it comes to diversity in hiring in national studies. But forget the statistics; for me it’s more about the feeling of pride I get when I see the series of flags representing players’ home countries adorning PPL Park’s River End during Philadelphia Union home games.
 
It’s the pride in diversity through displays like this that really makes us special. Major League Soccer made “Embrace the Colors” the cornerstone of a past marketing campaign. The delegation making the case to FIFA last fall for a World Cup in the USA boasted the diversity of our nation and within the sport as a part of their efforts.  Even our Commander in Chief acknowledged the Colorado Rapids’ diversity when they visited the White House this summer:  This is like a mini United Nations right here,” President Obama remarked. “You’ve got players from Argentina, England, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Scotland, and Senegal.”
 
The diversity in soccer’s fan base is something special too, even for the tensions it can sometimes bring. There are the vansful of suburban youth soccer players herded by their parents and coaches and the scores of latino fans who bring along the traditions of the soccer fan communities of Mexico, Central, and South America. And for me as a fan, diversity amongst the fan base means being welcomed as a gay man by the local soccer supporters groups to which I belong.  
 
And when it comes to the LGBT community, all sports have far to go, but America’s soccer community has taken some great strides this year and achieved some notable firsts. This July the Columbus Crew became the first American pro sports team to co-host a gay sports tournament with their Pride Cup. Chivas USA’s Michael Lahoud and Justin Braun are the first pro sports teammates to pose together for a NO H8 Campaign photograph leading up to Major League Soccer’s first Equality Night at the Home Depot Center. (Braun scored a hat trick against Houston that night.) The Sounders participated in a Seattle-wide pro sports video for the It Gets Better project and DC United became the first MLS team to make one on their own supporting LGBT youth. These efforts make me proud beyond words to be an American soccer supporter.
 
So from race and ethnicity to gender and sexual orientation, diversity within the sport will always be a work in progress. But right now it’s the biggest answer I have to “Why American Soccer?”
 
About Chris
 
Chris Billig is a soccer supporter in Austin, TX, where he helps run the city's American Outlaws chapter. He is working on starting a blog with a gay slant on American soccer, currently Tweeting at @gay4soccer and posting at gay4soccer.com.

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