Crass and offensive soccer chants are nothing new on the World football stage.
Racial taunts have driven players to leave the field of play. Airline disasters have been exploited to the detriment of the opposition. Cheeky songs have even been aimed at players on the supporter’s own side! Just ask Tim Howard, who’s battle with Tourette’s syndrome has been playfully (and profanely) used in songs for many years.
Like many other clubs and leagues throughout the world, Major League Soccer has aimed at putting an end to it – and the New York Red Bulls have joined them.
While tame in comparison, their cross-hairs are firmly placed on one overpowering and powerful chant:
YSA (or, as you may have heard in stadiums across the nation, ‘You Suck, @sshole’).
You’ve heard it before. Anytime an opposing keeper steps back to kick the ball back into play, a vast chorus of supporters voices hit a crescendo the minute foot hits ball followed by the three words that continue to rile league Commissioner Don Garber like none other.
It’s been called homophobic, though that is certainly debatable. It has also been labeled childish, which may be the most universally accepted description of the chant amongst it’s proponents and detractors.
Most of all, it is divisive, yet astonishingly uniting at the same time. In any MLS competition across the country, you can bet your bottom dollar that fervent supporters – and the casual fan – will get behind YSA more than any other chant (aside from the team name, of course). It’s popularity brings all fans together, but it is the league’s contention that it also alienates a good portion of folks attending matches – particularly, the families looking to take their kids to a pro-soccer encounter.
Families mean money to MLS, and a clean product helps the league sell itself to sponsors and – more importantly – television outlets. Likewise, supporters create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere amongst a crowded American sports scene that helps the league market itself and entice the uninitiated.
And there is the rub.
Some clubs like RSL have thrown down the gauntlet on their fans, demanding the chant be put to rest before serious consequences are enacted. The New York Red Bulls, meanwhile, have offered a different approach; for every game that goes “YSA Free,” the club will donate $500 to the supporters clubs for their operations, made payable in increments of $2,000.
The offer, if accepted, could help clubs afford certain amenities to members they may currently struggle to afford.
If rejected, New York fans may be seeing more of the stick and far less of the carrot.
The question is then simple; how important is YSA to you? Is money incentive enough to do away with the chant? Does your freedom of speech have no price tag? Is there even freedom of speech to speak of at a private sporting event? What would you do?
Have your vote and take below: