Toronto FC Culture Creates Special Bonds

Why TFC is more about kinship than sportsmanship
by Sonja Missio   |   Monday, December 17, 2012

Red Dawn Rising - column on Toronto FC (TFC) & the Toronto Ontario soccer scene

On Friday, I went out to dinner with a journalist friend.

This is an outstanding – but not specified – date. Like always, I arrived a full seven minutes late, apologizing like mad as I thank him for having a beer waiting.

I then went into a long rant about my day – something to do with my commute and lack of escalator etiquette in Toronto – all the while checking my phone a million times.

He patiently waited for me to stop talking (as if that will ever happen), told me to put my phone away and ordered me another drink.

Then, we got into the heart of the matter. 

That particular Friday we met for a few reasons, one of them being that he had a giant foam finger to give me. You know the kind, the one that pop-culturally identifies you as a sports fan, but that no one really owns (except me).

Anyway, as soon as he gave me the giant foam gift – as we sat in a bar full of Bay Street (note: Canada’s Wall Street) suits and their makeshift holiday parties – I immediately put it on and continued business as usual.

“Are you really going to wear that?” he asked.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I?”

It would never occur to me not to immediately put on the finger, as the pride for my club is something I wear openly on my sleeve.

Or, in this case, on my hand.

It was the most honest answer I could give him, as it is a thought that I am not sure I could existentially process. I mean, why wouldn’t I wear it? Other than it causing a few problems while I drank, wearing the giant foam finger seemed perfectly natural to me. It seemed perfectly normal. It was a physical representation of the metaphorical extension of myself.

I wear my pride for Toronto FC like a badge of honor. And with the foam finger, I was literally doing that. 

Long story short, and a few weird stares later, I realized something: It was natural and normal to wear the finger because of the love I have for my team.

Now, this is not a new revelation. Anyone who knows me – even after meeting me for five seconds – knows I am a TFC fan. But sitting in a crowded bar, wearing the red monstrosity, made me really appreciate that there’s more to being a fan than I thought.

I used to feel like I was always trying to justify why I love the team to friends who like “real” (re: European) soccer. They always asked how can I like a team that “has awful management/never wins/performs poorly/are boring to watch?”

The truth is, loving Toronto FC is more than just loving the team. It’s about loving the culture, the place and everything that goes along with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love the team and the sport. But there’s more to it than just that. And although I can only speak on behalf of Toronto FC culture, I am sure other teams – MLS or otherwise – feel some version as it as well. However, for me personally, it is that culture that I love; the sense of camaraderie that I have never felt with any other sport, or even any other group of like-minded people. 

From the pre-game get together to the post game pity drinks, TFC creates relationships beyond the ordinary.

In fact, it was because of Toronto FC that the journalist I was sitting across from that night met me. Years ago I had written a “disparaging” blog post that was “wrong” and “libelous” and he offered to meet me to set me straight.

He did, and I now have a new appreciation for the culture surrounding the team. It is just as much about kinship as it is about sportsmanship.

The reason why I love Toronto FC goes beyond just the team or the sport. It’s the people involved, the memories made, the trips travelled, the live tweets and the constant teasing from once total strangers that I now consider to be mock-big brothers.

It’s the familiar faces you see in the stands, people you’re not really sure of their name, but you smile and wave at every time you see them. It’s about finding common interests, beyond the boys in red, that create lasting friendships. It’s about a chance meeting at a supporter bar pre-game, only to have that person become entwined forever in the rest of your life.

Truth is, TFC is full of love. And I am happy to wear a giant, red, foam finger in public because it symbolizes a lot of good in my life. Sure, Toronto FC is a cause for a lot of bad in my life (I have the bruises from falling to my knees in despair to prove it), but they are barely noticeable in comparison. And, as I sit here full of holiday cheer and eggnog flavored rum, I just want to say thank you for everything, TFC.

Oh, and also, this week Toronto FC re-signed defender Jeremy Hall and forward Andrew Wiedeman, traded goalkeeper Milos Kocic and forward Ryan Johnson for Portland Timbers’ keeper Joe Bendik and allocation money, and signed former Chivas USA defender Danny Califf.

The 2013 team is starting to take shape and I could not be more excited. However, right now, it’s more about the fans in the stands than the players on the pitch. 

Sonja MISSIO

Nationality:
Canada
College:
Univ. of Guelph, Univ. of W. Ontario, Brock University
Club Domestic:
Toronto FC
Club Foreign:
Udinese
Supported Udinese since birth, TFC was her own stupid decision; writing on her masochistic relationship with soccer started after. Doomed as a Canadian - Friulano - Swiss - Filipina. Searching for Juventini actually from Turin and running for FIFA Prez.
SONJA'S SPONSORS