At 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night, almost 800 fans filled up Anteater Stadium to watch UC Irvine’s conference opener against Cal Poly. Despite the impressive turnout for a UCI home game, it sounded like Cal Poly was the home team. I expected UCI fans to be more enthusiastic for the Big West opener.
At the start of the whistle, the stands roared with “WOOOO!” and “YEAH!” for five seconds. But the crowd fell silent for the next thirty minutes.
“C’mon Anteaters! Time to make some noise!” echoed the loudspeakers.
Chants of “c’mon Irvine” and claps were scattered throughout the stadium only to die within five seconds. Meanwhile on the other side of the stands, two Cal Poly fans screamed their chords out.
“I LOVE YOU DAKOTA!” screamed a lady from the stands as she waved at the Mustangs’ goalkeeper, Dakota Collins.
Three minutes later a different woman screamed, “HOW CAN YOU DO THAT REF?” after Cameron Walters of Cal Poly received his first yellow card.
Although the UCI fans seemed to be engaged in the game and expressed frustration about the Anteaters’ inability to cross the ball from the wings, not a single holler, cheer or boo was heard. Upon first impression, it seems that a UCI fan does have a well-founded (let alone objective) understanding of the beautiful game, but there is absolutely no passion or spirit displayed from the “Antourage.” It was obvious that the two Cal Poly ladies cheering their hearts out (and jeering the referee) were louder than the Antourage altogether. The lack of spirit was a greater tragedy than UCI’s 1-0 upset loss that night.
If the Florida Marlins’ and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s fans have been criticized for being lukewarm, then UCI fans should be labeled as “lukewarmer” or “lukerwarm.” What good is a home-field advantage and having a huge crowd when the team cannot even hear them? That’s certainly a morale killer.
Soccer matches at the professional level are alive with noise, songs and chants. In the English Premier League, Liverpool fans sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein to show their support while Manchester United fans bellow out “Glory, Glory Man United,” an altered version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Reading FC fans have been extremely loyal to their club to the point the team designated the number 12 jersey for the fans to recognize them as the twelfth member of the team. Even in Major League Soccer, LA Galaxy fans chant “GALA-GALA-GALA-GALAXY!” Regardless of how terrible the team could be doing during the season, fans flock to the stadiums to partake in the fun experience of showing their support.
With a team ranked seventh in the nation, it’s an injustice for UCI to play in a stadium that is as quiet and serene as the cow meadows in Davis. To prove that they’re more than just a large crowd, shouldn’t UCI fans get engaged with the players on the team? Like how Mexican soccer fans affectionately call Javier Hernandez “Chicharito,” UCI fans should be cheering on Miguel Ibarra through his nickname “Miguelito” and Christopher Santana as “Chino.”
One thing that can be done to help this matter is for ASUCI to heavily promote the UCI Soccer team.
But even with bigger numbers, UCI fans are not likely going to turn up their volume. A possible reason why is that no one knows how to cheer for UCI sports without saying the generic “Let’s go Irvine!” Someone needs to come up with a chant and song that hits hard and easy to cheer. It does seem impossible for Eater Nation to transform into an ensemble like Liverpool fans and sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but coming up with a chant or short song that is easy to memorize from the top of the head would be helpful in getting the crowd pumped up. If creative minds in the ASUCI board room can get together and compose a catchy chant or song and bring it to the fans that would be helpful.
As a member of KCCC (Korea Campus Crusade for Christ), my Christian club has been creative in cheering for their campus at the annual KCCC Sports Day with a chant known as “You Know the Story.” I didn’t invent this chant and the origin of the person who invented it remains unknown, but it has been the trademark chant UCI KCCC used whenever they competed against KCCCs from other campuses. It goes like this:
YOU KNOW THE STORY!
(YOU KNOW THE STORY!)
YOU TELL THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD THIS IS IRVINE TERRITORY!
(YOU TELL THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD THIS IS IRVINE TERRITORY!)
This chant is repeated twice but can go on for as many times as it wants. It could be the start of something new. It could do wonders to raise the spirits of UCI fans.