7 Admittedly Unexpected Joys Of Going To An MLS Game

7 Admittedly Unexpected Joys Of Going To An MLS Game

All I'm saying is the A-T-L slow clap is something you just HAVE to experience in person.
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While baseball and football have always dominated the sports scene in the United States, Major League Soccer (MLS) keeps growing and there's no telling if it'll ever stop.

A year ago I wrote about how ATL United was going to take over MLS, and oh my, have we started a soccer revolution in our city. The fans have made the experience absolutely unforgettable and if you have any doubts about soccer, please go to a freaking MLS game. I can guarantee it will be one of the best sporting events you've ever attended in your entire life. If I still haven't convinced you, here are some reasons why you should just buy your ticket already.

1. You will feel like you are part of a big family you never even knew existed.

When you're packed in a stadium full of 46,318 fans (that was ATL United's average attendance per game this inaugural season), you'll find yourself becoming best friends with the people in your section. Not to mention if you're sitting in the supporter section, it gets pretty wild from what I've seen (and heard).

2. The chants will send chills running down your spine.

Coming from a foreign family, soccer has always been a sport that I've kept up with, but I was nowhere prepared for what I was about to experience at my first ATL United game. MLS supporters are some of the most dedicated and energetic fans out there. It's a totally different energy than any league in the entire world and a lot of that has to do with the rise in popularity of soccer in the United States. All I'm saying is the A-T-L slow clap (you know which one I'm talking about) is something you just have to experience in person.

3. When you step in that stadium, you are literally making history.

Plenty of MLS teams have set impressive records in the past, but Atlanta has already broken some of them and set the bar higher than ever. The most recent one being breaking the all-time MLS record for tickets sold to a standalone match (69,256 tickets for their match against Orlando FC on September 16, 2017). The last time this record was set was back in 1996 for LA Galaxy's first game ever.

4. You will be impressed by the tifo game.

In case you don't know what a tifo is, it's a long-standing soccer tradition that features works of art created by fans to commemorate the match that day. You'll see these flying over the supporter section and the best part is each one is incredibly unique. I love this one above from ATL United's match against the New York Red Bulls this past May.

5. The moment your team scores a goal is one you will never forget.

You know when you go to a football game and pretend like you know what's going on even though you can't tell whether or not we scored a touchdown? Soccer is nothing like that. You will know when we have scored and you'll be even more excited because you actually understand the sport. I'm telling you, even if you aren't a "soccer person," it's easy to follow.

SEE ALSO: Why Soccer Is More Than Just A Sport To Bosnians

6. The excitement will keep you on your feet the whole game.

Forget sitting, you will probably forget you're even standing because you're having a blast.

7. You will realize that your city is freaking amazing.

I've heard a lot of people say, "Oh, you don't know what it's like, you have to go overseas and watch a Premier League game." Actually, we have the experience right here in our own backyard. Embrace it and show some love for your city!

Cover Image Credit: WABE Atlanta

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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Always Be The Overdressed Person In The Room

You'll make a better impression than being underdressed.

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I recently had jury duty (super exciting, I know) and I was stressing about what to wear. The notice said to wear something "appropriate for an appearance in court" but it also said that comfortable clothing was strongly suggested. I was confused and conflicted by these two sets of instructions, so I asked my family for help.

I had never served jury duty before, so I didn't know what to expect in any sense. I was on spring break from school so I brought home two different pairs of dress pants, two different nice shirts, my blazer, and a pair of black wedges to choose from. I also knew I had one more shirt at home to try out.

I tried on a few different combinations until I ended up with the wedges, fitted dress pants, a tank top, and the blazer. I felt great, I looked great, and I was ready to go.

Sitting in that room for six hours, just looking at everyone made me realize only about ten people were in business professional clothing. A decent amount of people were in business casual, but others were in completely casual clothes. I even saw a guy in Giants sweatpants and hoodie, and I realized that I was overdressed (but still comfortable).

I semi-recently realized that I tend to overdress for occasions. Could be something as simple as going to school or something as big as a celebration or an interview.

As I mentioned in my past article about having thick calves, I wore heels to school a lot in high school and I still do now in college. I love to wear dresses and skirts when it's nice enough to. For Christmas and Easter mass, my family and I wear suits and dresses while other families are in pajamas, sweats, jeans, and t-shirts.

I would always much rather be too dressy than not dressy enough. Heck, I wanted to wear a ballgown to prom (but I didn't). I love dressing up. I'm a very feminine person and I like to reflect that in my clothing style. I know that not everyone is like that and I don't expect you to read this and suddenly dress up every day. And when I say overdressed, I just mean dressier than you need to be.

If you're going somewhere and you're unsure of the dress code, take my advice and always overdress. It beats being underdressed and though you might end up getting looks either way, at least if you are overdressed, you'll have a confidence about you that won't go unnoticed.

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