By Philip Voutsakis
Was I the only one a little disappointed at yesterday’s Greece vs. Nigeria soccer match? I’m not talking about the 0-0 tied ending; I’m talking about the crowd participation. My seating section (section 104) was significantly quieter than a background-music set played by Seizmos during a church dinner dance. Our meager Nigerian counterparts were standing the whole game, chanting Zulu war songs while our “Team Greece Supporters Section” could have been mistaken for a WASPy crowd of searsucker-clad horseshow attendees. As the good Puritans we were seemingly aspiring to be, we calmly stayed seated throughout the game, making sure our claps didn’t bother our neighbors or opponents. Oh, if Dionysus only saw us, he’d be shaking his grape-adorned head!
Few were the people in my section attempting to get the crowd in the game; two boisterous PAOKsides (one who nearly got hurled out of the stadium for standing on his chair); my friend Niko Karolidis who cleverly swapped the subject of his beloved PAOK chants with “Ellas”; and Nick Yiantsos, Jr. (Achilleas Yiantsos), who, like his father, always has an inhuman level of energy.
Now before I get protest from soccer scholars more knowledgeable than I, I understand that the match was a friendly and that it truly meant nothing from a ranking-sense. That all being known, this was our time to shine as Philadelphian Hellenic-Americans; to show those who came to the game (including our Greek National players) our passion! Rather, people were more enthusiastic about singing “Meow re Gatoula” with Kalomoira than supporting the team we all came to see.
Opportunities like these are times to discard the Apollonian mask – even if only for a few hours – and really get into the spirit of the game! I suppose we can try again the next time the Greek national team is playing 5,002 miles away from home, right in our back yards, a few weeks before embarking to play in the World Cup. Next time.