You might have already noticed if you’re friends with any dudes, but there is definitely such a thing as an “indie” sports fan. They’re all over the place.
Qualities of an “indie” sports fan are about the same as an “indie” rock fan, namely: they love to one-up each other with references to obscure things that happened in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s; they wear cheap-looking-but-actually-expensive-on-eBay vintage t-shirts, hats, and other merchandise in an attempt to prove superior knowledge and authenticity of their support of their favorite bands/teams; they hate whatever’s the most popular, they focus on regional accomplishments, and prefer bands/teams that never won anything and/or were not actually good, but may have been interesting in some way, like Dog Faced Hermans or the early-90’s Denver Nuggets.
Confession time: I’m an “indie” sports fan. “Indie” in quotes, just like it should be in rock, when discussing bands like Vampire Weekend which are distributed by , because these are all actually huge corporations dressed up like friendly neighborhood sports teams.
The late game Monday between the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders was "indie” as fuck. It was like taking a time machine to 1987 and watching some random shitty football game between a bunch of part-time bouncers who not only are not millionaires in any way, but who are also all about a half step away from jail time. That’s kind of the idea of these first week doubleheader late Monday night games on ESPN: they’ve emerged as a kind of tribute to the AFL, whose gradual merger with the NFL in 1970 coincided roughly with the merging of “rock” and “pop” music in the popular consciousness.
Monday’s broadcast featured the following “indie” style goof-ups:
As always with these late week-one games, we got treated to an “alternative” broadcast crew, this time Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer. Berman is completely awful while somehow also being secretly great, and Dilfer’s broadcast career has so far involved a startling degree of opinionated bluster in the “what troubles ME about the St. Louis Rams…” mold for somebody whose playing career landed him somewhere between a “not quite totally shitty” and a “barely acceptable” quarterback. Berman yelled himself hoarse in this game by the 2nd quarter, and both sounded punchy if not actually drunk by the second half.
The NFL has replacement referees right now, instead of the regular union NFL refs, so not only were the calls somewhat worse than usual, there were also some great human interest tidbits about how the guy currently telling you about offensive holding is a middle school administrator from just outside of Boise, Idaho, who actually goes back to administrate Wednesday through Friday, while at the same time being the referee for NFL games. This is in the NFL. In 2012. A sports league that rakes in BILLIONS of dollars. And the games are being officiated by Mr. Core, whose office you have to go to if you make fun of somebody’s boner.
The game started at 7:25 local time, and ended around 10:30. It was at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California, which is a weird place and time for a football game. The Athletics play there, too, this time of the year, so there’s a baseball diamond in the middle of the football field. This was a fairly regular, though now vanishing, occurrence in the NFL, and it’s always odd in the light of day, but at night, a baseball diamond on a football field makes the game seem an EXTRA lot like everybody broke into some neighborhood sports field to have an NFL game. As for Oakland, you might already be familiar with the also-regular-but-weirder-at-night tradition of the “Black Hole” fan section, in which Raider fans with slight brain damage dress up like Gwar, but in black and white. You might not also be familiar with the Oakland tradition of the neighborhood being a complete war zone.
Witness this adorable infographic from the Oakland Police Department:
That’s all the crime in the 90 days leading up to the game within a mile of the Oakland Coliseum. Basically, if you go to a late-night Raiders game, you’re going to be spray-painted purple, yelled at and punched with little blue and red boxing gloves by drunk dudes, and have your little green moneybags robbed out of your broken Fiero window by guys with little cartoon switchblades who will then steal your little orange car to pay for little blue syringes full of drugs. And you might also get set on fire by a prostitute.
All of which means that going to a late game at the Coliseum is as real-deal “indie” as going to a punk show in a loft in east Bed-Stuy. I can only go from what I saw on my pirated internet feed, but it seemed to me like the crowd for Monday’s game was both sparse and rowdy to the point of the whole shebang being kind of fucked up.
The game also featured the Oakland Raiders football team, which is just a ridiculous mess at this point. In “indie” terms, they’re one of those bands who might be great one night or might all get so hammered that one of them takes a shit on stage to cap off a 12-minute set in which they attempted to cover The Cosby Show theme with an unstrung guitar. (Kind of what happened today against the Dolphins.) Oakland’s two best receivers didn’t start the game on Monday, which left the Raiders passing to a guy named Derek Hagan who was just sitting next to his phone not playing football as recently as last week. And he looked better than the rest of the receiving corps. The Raiders’ offense resembled a pickup game where one team gets the best guy, in this case, Darren McFadden, and the rest is made up of somebody’s weird cousin from Vermont and redheads with curly hair. To top this off, their long-snapper got concussed and had to leave the game in favor of a homeless guy from the bus station, leading to a series of humiliating gaffes.
It was not a good game. In fact it was sub-watchable. But in its favor, it WAS a marked departure from the NFL’s usual insane glossed-over money ejaculation where genetically-engineered cyborgs in synthetic fabrics execute algorithm-based offensive strategies in a billion-dollar space bubble full of trophy wives. It was more like a poorly-booked Lightning Bolt show circa 2003. Saw ‘em at the Fireside Bowl with Pink and Brown, John Dwyer’s old band. They were so loud I had to stuff toilet paper in my ears to keep the top half of my head from falling off. So, you know… NBD or anything. Ha ha, yeah. I got this Portland Breakers t-shirt at a thrift store. It in no way cost me $50 on the internet. Etcetera.