I wanted to give a special shout-out to the San Jose Ultras on their 13th birthday. Sports around the world, especially soccer, have a lot of fan participation in the games. In the United States however, fan participation is frowned upon, almost discouraged. In the Bay Area, fans would rather sit on their butts than burst out into song to support their teams, be it the Giants, Niners, Sharks, etc. On more than a few occasions I have stood up and cheered for my team only to be asked/told fans to be quiet and sit down. Granted the A’s have a great fanbase behind Josh Reddick in right field, and Raiders have the Black Hole, but for the most part United States fans, and Bay Area fans especially, are not eager to support their home clubs with unbridled passion.
Except for the San Jose Ultras. The Ultras bring an atmosphere that is infectious. Their songs have become anthems with which the whole stadium can sing, even if they don’t want to stand all match. I love hearing their support each and every game. I sing with them, even if I’m not among them, chanting the same songs, but a little lower as not to offend the “fans” sitting around me. San Jose Earthquakes, you are my team, until the day I die. And when that happens, I’ll still be singing, for you up in the sky. At the end of the match, win or lose, I’m in my seat shaking my hands at players until they queue the “SAN! JO! SAY!” chant.
It discourages me when the Quakes Front Office discourages the SJU’s tifos, yet use the SJU songs and fans in their commercials. I wish the FO could let the Ultras do what they do best: support the team without having to be on a leash. Their passion is something that cannot be kept in a bottle and used at the FO’s digression. It is a taste of enthusiasm that is lacking in the Bay Area, and probably brings more fans back for the experience of a profession soccer game than the product on the field. Win or lose, when the Ultras sing at home, in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, or wherever, there is a feeling of camaraderie that cannot be understood, just simply experienced. The Quakes Front Office should appreciate what they have with the Ultras, and how they have helped grow the fanbase in San Jose.
One of the biggest virtues of the Ultras isn’t their passion for the team, but the family they have built. Ultra Chris Hacker is still remembered by the group every game. When Ultras were banned due to the incidents in Portland, they stood by them and recognized their absence among them. The Ultras genuinely care for each other as much as they care for the team, and that’s something that is rare in sports. Although I am not an Ultra, I have nothing but respect for the group and its members because of this love for each other as well as the team.
So on behalf of a huge Earthquakes fan, happy birthday. Your passion for the team is something to which I aspire to have.