CommentaryUnited States

How to Attend to a Soccer Game: A Beginner’s Guide

August 19, 2010 — by Sean

As I watched the nearly sold-out USA v Brazil game, I was reminded of thoughts I’d had while watching the sold-out Red Bulls v Galaxy matchup: New Yorkers don’t know how to get to a soccer game on time. It’s obvious when you tune in to watch on TV and see over half the stadium empty for the first 15-20 mins. But don’t blame the fans entirely. Baseball, (American) Football, Basketball—our homespun sports are very forgiving to the tardy and have surely created a mindset that simply isn’t applicable to the footy.

I can’t be bothered to look up the actual statistics, but I imagine baseball games average 3 hours. Football always seems to take four, but I’m usually watching at home (pre&post-game etc.). Basketball seems like it moves along more quickly, but there’s still plenty of breaks in play to get up and refresh a drink or grab a bite.

Soccer isn’t like this at all. You can’t be fifteen minutes late for soccer, because then you’ve missed nearly 17% of the game, and it’s not coming back. You can barely get up at halftime to grab a drink before the play is back on. And I don’t know about you, but unless I have a beer somewhere within reach I’m not completely enjoying myself at a professional sporting event.

This all points to the obvious: Get to the stadium early. You can’t be “on time” for a soccer game, because the fiddling about and settling in you’ll need to do results in missing the all-important opening minutes of the match, when the teams are feeling each other out and establishing their styles and tempo of play. And that’s taking into consideration you’ve already allowed for enough time to get past security, grab some drinks or food, and get to your seats.

My recommendation, having myself missed the opening minutes of many a game held in New York, is to aim on getting there an hour early. You’re sure to be held up along the way somewhere, but you’ll still have time to relax with a drink or two, grab some nosh, and then focus on the game.

Next in our Beginner’s Guide: Why polyester knock-off jerseys shouldn’t be worn in the sun.