How wonderful would it be if the state of Colorado were more soccer crazy! Well, for this fan, soccer wasn't even on the radar until I move to Colorado! Sure, I have friends that watched soccer that helped me dip my toe in the pool, but never did I splash in the deep end until I moved to Colorado and checked out the Colorado Rapids.
You see, I spent the last 16 years of my life (minus a three year excursion to Florida) in Kentucky. You know, Kentucky! Basketball is the only sport besides the offseason when you waited for basketball season to start. Living in Lexington, KY, it was all about UK basketball (I'm looking at you, Dillon Ross). But I love Louisville and the Fightin' Cardinals (even with Bobby Petrino--still scratching my head about that one) and when I'm not wearing burgundy, I'm wearing the red and black. But it was basketball and football. Louisville City FC hadn't cranked up yet (they started in the USL in 2015, playing at Slugger Field and averaging 6,300 per home match), and the college soccer PR wasn't in full effect. The closest MLS team was the Columbus Crew, three hours away. So, for us, it was basketball, baseball, football.
So when I hear folks say, "I wish soccer was more prevalent in Colorado," I understand it now because I love the sport now. But keep in mind: we have over 10,000 in average attendance according to the numbers--some even say over 13,000, but that's absurd, really. It's actual fans in the seats (FITS?), and when you consider we have the Broncos, Rockies, and Nuggets (to a degree) competing against us during the season, we don't really do that badly.
Oh, and did I mention that we have that many come even to North Denver/Commerce City--out in the middle of somewhere?
We have no shortage of soccer in Colorado--we know this. But coming from Kentucky (where I'm visiting as I write this), I realized how fortunate I was when going into a Louisville Cardinals store for UofL merchandise, I found one shirt that acknowledged Louisville Soccer. One. Block letters: "Louisville Soccer" with a soccer ball on it. Basketball and football to a degree had some pretty sweet designs. Soccer? Block letters and a ball. Red shirt, white letters.
Yes, yes, I know that stores of this sort respond to trends and likes rather than create them. But one of their own, Marlon Hairston, was drafted in 2014 by the Rapids out of Louisville in the first round--barely a ripple!
Let me come back on point: "I wish Colorado was more soccer crazy." We could do better, but it could be much worse. And, yes, a better product on the field led by a recognizable name with other-worldly talent would help as well. But more and more, we're getting a generation that will come for the sheer love of the game and to hang around other soccer crazies. Like breeds likes.
I'm encouraged by the state of soccer in the states. And I'm encouraged by the state of soccer fans in Colorado! But it starts with you and me introducing them to this beautiful game and letting it bloom from there. I can't wait to see what's next.