A Philadelphian in the Music City: Part 1

While my preconceived notions of Nashville were based on my fascination with getting drunk at Tootsie’s and singing show tunes at the Grand Ole Opry, I’ve never seen Nashville’s impressive 30,000-seat, two-tiered cathedral, United States. The largest dedicated soccer stadium.

Known as a Mecca for country music lovers, Nashville’s pro-sports glory dates back to the 2000 Music City Miracle. That ended the Titans’ season just inches from winning Super Bowl XXXIV. That continued recently when the Predators reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2017 under former Flyers coach Peter LaViolette, losing to Pittsburgh in six games. However, it is rapidly emerging as a soccer capital and shares a cityscape that is growing day by day in many ways.

Over a decade, Nashville SC has risen from the Tennessee Amateur League to several successful penalty kicks to the MLS Eastern Conference Finals. So while it’s tempting to participate in the vast off-the-field experience the city has to offer, my objective is to understand how Nashville became the center of American football on the weekend.

Known as the Athens of the South for its high number of colleges per square mile, Nashville boasts several Division I soccer programs. My hotel is on the edge of Vanderbilt University, which closed its men’s soccer program in 2006. However, the women’s team has been successful for decades. It dates back to the days of Ken McDonald. After a career at Pennsylvania State University, in 1981 he was named a USL All-Star with the PA Stoners. occupies his one of the She grew up in Warminster, across from me, and appeared in William He Tennent (Ryan Richter ’07) before pursuing a college and professional career in the late ’70s and her early ’80s.

Freeman Ramsey/The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Last season, Ambler’s Maddie Elwell finished her career third among the school’s all-time assist leaders, and the Washington Spirit selected her in this spring’s NWSL Draft. From 2017 to 2020 she made it to the NCAA and made it to the second round. In addition to Vanderbilt, Lipscomb and Belmont (Senior Liam O’Brien-YSC Academy) offer both men’s and women’s football.

After waking up to our late Friday night but still normal EST rhythm, we walked up West End Avenue toward Centennial Park on a sunny, quiet Saturday morning in the sun, nearly 80 degrees, and left on the pavement. Follow the road littered with electric scooters. Dumped into bushes, sometimes kickstanded up, and mostly discharged to its final resting place, as if the battery had died halfway through or no longer needed its purpose. I pass hundreds of cranes throughout the weekend and every construction crane in the city he gives four cranes. Three of them are helping with the renovation of several campus buildings.

There’s no shortage of pick-up game players on the carpet-like Bermuda grass in front of the Parthenon, a replica of the original built in 1897 for its centenary celebrations and renovated in the mid-1900s. A large group of men and a few women of various ages, ethnicities and talents, immersed in one-twos, step-overs, and challenges, with pug goals at each end, his evenly spaced Sprint up and down a field with four cones. Knee wraps, jerseys, no pinnies, all the same.

While dogs play in the grass, runners from 5K pause to follow birdsong and foraging squirrels, amidst the noise of medical helicopters away from the city’s main hospital block. , down two tree-lined avenues dotted on either side of the park. Monuments represent Nashville’s complex history. Statues honoring Confederate fallen soldiers are diagonally placed for women’s suffrage activists, and a 30-foot-tall obelisk honoring Nashville founder James Robertson stands above a pond filled with roaming geese. It stands nearby. Our road crosses continents. “

15th Annual Nashville Earth Day Festival

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Visit the campus bookstore across the park. A place she rarely visited during her five years as an undergraduate. Literary curiosity is done by browsing the passages of used textbooks to see what children are reading these days. Surprisingly, near Foucault and Frost was a pile of Franklin Foer wines. How football explains the worldShelf away from Eduardo Galeano soccer in the sun and shadowThe idea of ​​football reaching the level of academia is exciting. A quick search leads to his GER 2432/CMST 2432 taught by Lutz Koepnick, Professor of German Studies, and John Sloop, Professor of Communication Studies. I have experienced the impact of football and traveled abroad to experience the impact of football on my daily life. If there was a college course that woke me up at 8am, it would be this.

Sloop writes a thought-provoking column. broadway sports In it he discusses the intersection of media, culture, tactics and fandom. After Nashville’s playoff loss to the Philadelphia Union last November, he nods to his own grief, but thinks analytically about the game, an individual who lectures students on isolating emotions. I thought about conflict. Among Sloop’s many topics is the sense of community that stems from the emotional connection to the game, whether elation or sorrow.In just three weeks, the abundance of post-game social media discussions I was obsessed with it, but only withdrew out of concern that my emotions would run rampant.

Sloop wrote: “No matter how much we disagree with the way others express their feelings,” “No matter how different or similar they are, victory or defeat is a matter of real life and online.” , fosters discussion and a sense of contact between friends. It is clear (and the data shows!).”

In Sloop’s opinion, we can all agree that lineups, tactics, refereeing, and MLS are divided, but we appreciate our own football community, which has grown exponentially here, not just in Philadelphia.

I catch up with the sloop on game morning to ask about the growth of football in Nashville and across the country, starting with the origin of my new favorite course.

“Lutz was an acquaintance,” he says.

Vanderbilt students need an immersive experience. This starts with any field of interest and ends with the final project.

“Lutz applied for a grant and got it.

GER 2432/CMST 2432 is open to 100 students from a variety of backgrounds and football allegiance, including Premier League, Bundesliga and MLS, with a waiting list of 200 students. Last spring break, Sloop and Kepnick took his 60 students to London to see stadiums, museums and soak up football culture. The course also had an MLS unit and a guest lecture by his GM Mike Jacobs of Nashville SC. He extended the contracts of two-time defender of the year Walker Zimmermann and his MVP finalist Hany Muktar until 2025, the week before his Union game. Nashville will remain top talent for at least the next three years.

Pat Jacoby

Pat Jacoby Photography

When asked about what led to Nashville’s rapid growth, Sloop said, “U.S. culture has become friendlier to football. Starting out as Bill Metros (PDL) and then Nashville FC (NPSL), they played in front of thousands of fans at Vanderbilt Stadium and “felt we were making something” Originally led by Chris Jones The Fun Group-owned Nashville FC merged with a new owned group backed by John Ingram and was awarded the MLS franchise in 2017. The match against Bethlehem Steele, who had Brenden Aaronson, Drew Skundrich, Olivier Mbaizo and Matt Real in their lineup. While planning and construction of GEODIS continues, Nashville will host the majority of its games at First Tennessee Park, home of the Triple-A baseball team Nashville Sounds, and in 2020 and his 2021, they will They made occasional advances to Nissan Stadium where they played. Despite the changes, Nashville has always stayed close to its roots.

“The owners encouraged the fans to think of the club as their own,” says Sloop.

Sloop also said they structured their course around the game’s growth at the national level and have come a long way since then. rock and roll football, referring to Ian Plenderleith’s book about the glory days of the NASL. According to Sloop, two changes impacted American football.

“Today’s kids grow up with football,” he says. “When I was a kid, no one played football. Now people learn the rules and think tactically. I understand how exciting and intense it can be, and my generation didn’t understand that.”

Morgan Tenza

He is also pleased that American soccer has moved away from glorified rule changes aimed at making the game more popular among non-soccer fans.

The second change, Sloop said, is that new football fans have grown up in a culture that embraces MLS.

“Euro snobs still exist, but MLS has been around long enough,” he says. “Most fans’ main attachment is to MLS clubs.”

We share the concept of generational change in football. Older fans like us grew up with limited access to European and South American clubs, no access to American leagues at all, and younger fans completely exposed.

“In Nashville, this is it. Today someone has a tattoo with the NSC logo instead of Liverpool or Chelsea.”

And while we likely share some Euro snobs among our mutual friends, obsessed with promotion and relegation and scrapping the playoffs, he added: I’m here. They understand what MLS is and what it isn’t. “

Celebrities attend Philadelphia Union v Nashville SC

Photo by Keith Griner/Getty Images

In addition to Zimmerman and Mukhtar’s recent extensions, Nashville SC announced new minority owners ahead of the opening of GEODIS Park, adding Titans running Derrick Henry and actress Reese Witherspoon. When asked if celebrity owners would affect the growth of the game, Sloop said, “I don’t see how that would hurt.”

He compares how figures like Will Ferrell, Matthew McConaughey, and Marshawn Lynch brought positive exposure without taking over the spotlight.

“The difference between the NASL now and before is that having a celebrity owner join the team seems more supportive, rather than just a sign for the team.”

Sloop attended Subaru Park when the Portland Timbers came to town in 2019. After a violent rainstorm drove fans under the stands at halftime, he recalled the joy the Philadelphia fans had singing and having a good time, and looks forward to returning one day.

I’m leaving what he wrote about the anticipation of the opening weekend and the celebration of football milestones.

“This week, let’s put our parking concerns aside. This week, let’s not discuss whether we like the national anthem. There are endless items each of us can arm ourselves with if we need to.” At least for the past week, remember how much Nashville football has progressed in this short amount of time.All things considered, what we wanted and what we are currently closing Let’s realize that the distance between us is getting closer faster than anyone dared dream.

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