The recent mob violence plaguing Italian soccer, which has left one police officer dead, has prompted the authors of Freakonomics to speculate as to why European soccer fans are so much more violent than American sports fans, when our country has such a higher incidence of violent crime. Their answers—rivals are more proximate overseas, we have better security, ticket prices here keep out the riff-raff, our sports act as proxies for actual violence—aren’t very satisfying. (Even distant rivalries cause problems in Europe; their security is often extremely tight; prices for tickets are no higher than for baseball games, etc.) In any case, the subject seems especially pertinent here, a space where fans of America’s most prominent rivals participate in a constructive, respectful, and highly enjoyable dialogue. (Mostly.) Why are soccer fans more violent? A constellation of cultural and logistical factors are no doubt responsible. Those factors don’t align themselves here as they do overseas, though it is, I think, foolish to think this is because we are somehow more advanced as a culture or less devoted as fans. Whatever the case—and feel free to debate it here—it’s nice to think that this site contributes in some tiny, modest way to making interaction with the rivals something that’s a great pleasure and not a great danger.
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