Sunday, October 6, 2013

A true fan is worth 10,000 times as much as a stranger

Professional sports is synonymous with spirited chants and songs. Over the past few years, for example, I have enjoyed quite some fan-made Boston Celtics anthems like Natural Born Spitters' Who Are We (2010), Jay OK's Green & White (2011) and Oliveira Productions' Get Ready For War (2011). Sports fans are not consumers or passive shareholders. They are a vital part of the teams they root for - social capital, as you will - and this core fan base should be embraced to spread the word.

One of the most dedicated fanbases in Belgium belongs to Royal Antwerp FC. The second divisioner, appropriately nicknamed The Great Old for its 133-year existence, regularly outperforms first division teams attedance-wise and atmosphere-wise. In July, for example, 1,100 committed Antwerp fans travelled to Nottingham just to attend an exhibition game. Even when times are bleak, and they often have been, Antwerp fans show up.

Thanks in no small part to new coach Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and the team's partnership with player broker Saif Rubie, Antwerp has been rejuvenated and notching wins. The fans have something to be excited about. So much so that Antwerp fan and rapper Douglas "Dougie" Gyselink has enlisted twenty-some fans to record a new anthem for The Great Old. The song is titled Antwarep Leeft/Antwerp Lives and serenades the dedication of its fans, the team's great abillity, and the unshakable belief that Antwerp will return to the first divison soon.

As of today, the video has gathered 30,248 views on YouTube. It is sure to become a fixture at the team's Bosuil stadium in Deurne.

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