In 1971, Howard University became the first historically black university to win a NCAA D1 championship in soccer when it beat St. Louis University. The final match between Howard and St. Louis University had cultural, social, political, and racial implications due to all of the differences with the teams. According to a Sports Illustrated reporter, “[I]t was a game of multiple contrasts—not just cheeky newcomer vs. entrenched power, but also uninhibited fast break vs. tight ball control, foreigners vs. homegrown and, for those who seek significance in such face-offs, even black vs. white.” I can compare this with the soccer games I had been a part of back home in southeast NC.
First, different areas in the region were structured differently in terms of race. The middle of my county was full of rich, White families surrounding the lakes and vineyards. Everywhere else was poorer and more racially diverse, with Black, Latino, and Native American families. When I would play or ref soccer with the White kids, we would be at the nice fields and play a certain type of way, more traditional and structured. When I would play or ref elsewhere, the style of play would be more laid-back and more of an opportunity to showcase footwork. As much as I want equality to flow, there are obvious differences, like the Sports Illustrated reporter mentioned above.
Further on down the article, it mentions, “Soccer became associated with the white suburban middle class, while basketball and football increasingly became associated with black, urban, and poor communities. ” This is something I can heavily agree with. I earn my money by reffing soccer and getting insulted and yelled at by Karens, the White, suburban, and middle class mom that drives the fully-loaded Chevy Tahoe. I spent my time having fun back home by going to the poorer part of town and playing football and basketball with the non-White kids.
According to a 1977 U.S. News & World Report article, a “possible reason for the growth of soccer in some suburbs—one that the game’s proponents do not discuss publicly, but a few say privately—is that some white youths and their parents want a sport not as dominated by blacks as football and basketball.” I have had issues of White parents discussing publicly how they hate where they are at when their kids play at Pembroke, NC, a town known for their large Native American, Black, and Latino to White population ratio compared to other NC towns.