How Sport Satisfies A Human Need For Community

There have been occasions where, for work-related reasons, I have had to watch football matches alone. It has been during these times where I have been lucky enough to marvel at fantastic goals scored and brilliant skill displayed on the pitch. 

Yet to me, watching without company feels like watching the game in black and white, everything is still there, but the color which brings everything to life is conspicuously absent. This naturally leads us on to the question of the role of community in sport.

Why do we like to celebrate and commiserate with others by our side?

It really comes down to the basic theory that as human beings, we are intrinsically connected with others, and there is something primal in the satisfaction of joining together with others to share the things that we love. In football, sometimes we experience both joy and pain with those we have specifically travelled to the stadium with, and there are also those times in which we feel uplifted by communal joy in the celebration of a wonderful moment during the match with thousands of others in the stadium.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, believes these moments remind us of our “common humanity,” and this is something that becomes ever-more important in the technological age in which we are becoming more and more disconnected with others in the world around us.

Through extensive research detailed in her book Braving the Wilderness, Brown reveals that these collective experiences are “so deeply human that they cut through our differences and tap into our hardwired nature.” She says as human beings, we need moments with both loved ones and strangers to remind us “that despite how much we dislike someone on Facebook or even in person," we are still inextricably connected.

It’s true that there will certainly be people whom I don’t like or don’t share the same outlook on life with when I’m part of a 30,000 crowd at Fiorentina. Yet for those 90 minutes, this does not matter one bit, as we urge the home side forward, united as one for a common goal of victory. In this world there are far too many things that seek to divide us, and the game of football provides a platform to rejoice in our commonality.

“In this climate, the more we’re willing to seek out moments of collective joy and show up for experiences of collective pain—for real, in person, not online—the more difficult it becomes to deny our human connection,” Brown continues. “Even with people we may disagree with. Not only do moments of collective emotion remind us of what is possible between people, but they also remind us of what is true about the human spirit: we are wired for connection.”

The invention of the internet certainly makes many of us think we know everything. After all, any information we could ever possibly need is readily available at the touch of a button. While the merits of this are undeniable, the downside of the addiction to our devices is disconnection and a loss of a sense of community with those around us. 

Football can cure both of these problems in one fell swoop; the gathering of people reinforces the sense of community, while the intrinsic unpredictability of the match’s outcome blocks our “know-it-all” demeanor that comes from us all having a portable search engine on our person at all times.

So if we accept Brown’s research as true, what about those fans who cannot reach the stadium? How can they stay connected?

In the case of Serie A teams, there are pockets of supporters all over the world, many of whom have never been to Italy to see a match. Yet the inaccessibility of in-person football does not penalize them from creating their own communities, as you will see in the coming weeks.

Our natural desire to make connections has seen outposts all over the world create Serie A fan clubs where people can come together—sometimes at the most ungodly hours of the day—just so they can watch televised matches together. Such dedication provides all the proof needed to suggest that watching games alone is not the way that most people want to experience the sport, and they don’t need a stadium in order to create a hub in which they can demonstrate support for the side.

Over the next few weeks, we at FloFC will be speaking to some of these communities, and finding out what makes them special, as we look to create more ways in which we can satisfy our very human desire to connect.

Chloe Beresford specializes in Serie A for a number of outlets and can be found on Twitter and on Facebook via her page CalcioByChloe.

First Half Own Goal Gives D.C. United Huge Victory Over Portland Timbers

In 90 minutes of rain, D.C. United emerged victorious in the Pacific Northwest, benefitting from an own goal in a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers. Bill Tuiloma knocked in Ulises Segura's cross in the 25th minute, giving United their second consecutive win, both of which came away from the friendly confines at Audi Field. The win elevated the Black-and-Red to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a position that could change depending on other results on Sunday.

D.C. United In Position To Solidify Playoff Position With PDX Trip

After two weeks off for the international break, D.C. United are back in action on Sunday afternoon as they travel cross-country to take on the Portland Timbers. A win could see the Black-and-Red vault back into fourth place in the Eastern Conference after they were surpassed midweek by Toronto FC, who moved into fourth on the goal differential tiebreaker. Both teams currently occupy a playoff spot at the moment but need a win to cement their standing.

4 Notes From The Opening Rounds Of The Concacaf Nations League

The opening two rounds of the Concacaf Nations League are in the books, and we now have a clearer picture of which nations might punch their tickets to bigger and better things or tumble down into a lower league. 

Final 4 Weeks Of MLS Season Should Provide Plenty Of Drama

With the new schedule this year, Major League Soccer has a couple more sprints before the finish of the 2019 season. With the new playoff schedule, the second season is much shorter this year, after having to deal with the November international window smack dab in the middle of the playoffs. This year the playoffs are sandwiched between the October and November FIFA windows, which will help produce an MLS Cup winner in a whirlwind of a playoff schedule.

The Gap Between US & Mexico Is Widening On The International Stage

Rewind the tape to last September, when the USA and Mexico faced off in a friendly in Nashville. Tyler Adams helped the USMNT grab a 1-0 victory under the guidance of interim manager Dave Sarachan. What might be most memorable from that game, though, was the towering center back Matt Miazga reminding Mexican youngster Diego Lainez just how much shorter the then 18-year-old was than Miazga.

Trinidad & Tobago Struggle In Opening Rounds Of Concacaf Nations League

Though it may have been just a consolation prize considering their last-place finish in the Hex, Trinidad & Tobago’s shocking win over the United States at the tail end of 2017 was ample reason for the small nation to celebrate. 

4 Games Left To Decide D.C. United's MLS Playoff Standing

The last time D.C. United took the field in a competitive MLS game, they did their playoff chances a world of good. In a crucial showdown against the Montreal Impact on August 31, the Black-and-Red repeatedly punched their opponents in the mouth over the first 45 minutes of the game, picking up a 3-0 win that massively helped ease the pressure on a playoff race that was rapidly tightening up.

Concaclusions, Ep. 1: Nations League Matchday 1 & Mexico Dominate USA


From clutch finishes to a surprise resignation, the last week of Concacaf action featured just about everything imaginable as the inaugural Nations League is now underway. Away from the opening round of the tournament, Mexico were busy flexing their muscles in front of a rain-soaked crowd at MetLife Stadium. 

The Favorites Roll, Curaçao Narrowly Beats Haiti & More From Days 2 & 3


The past two days of the Concacaf Nations League has provided plenty of drama, decisive results, and world-class goals for everyone to enjoy. With games across all three leagues in the competition, some storylines are already beginning to play out throughout the competition, as we move on to the second match day, beginning on Monday.

Unexpected Concacaf Twist: Gustavo Matosas Stepping Down Because Of Boredom

The Concacaf Nations League began play this week and is sure to provide plenty of drama on the field over the next couple of months. Countries are vying to move to the semifinal round, or avoid relegation, or even jump up a league through promotion. There's always some element of unpredictability in these games, leading to shock results and standout performances from unheralded players.