For those looking to get a little sports fix to hold them over, let me mention that your NSC Minnesota Stars have made it into the finals of the NASL (i.e. top minor soccer league) playoffs. A list of reasons you want to attend this next Saturay is below the jump.
P.S. If this is a bit too off-topic for these forums, accept my apologies and feel free to remove.The first leg of the final round will take place Saturday, 7:30pm, at the National Sports Center in Blaine. If you're any kind of fan of sports, I can pretty much guarantee you will have a good time. Why?
Jackassery - This is a made up word that represents the spirit of playful fan participation prevalent in north american soccer fandom (it's not as "playfull" in other countries). In the fan section and 10 feet behind the opposing goalie you'll find multitudes with clever songs, banners, and insults. The height of my personal achievement came in 2005 when I observed Pablo Mastroeni signing autographs after the game, then called out asking him to validate my parking stub; causing his teammates to crack up on the spot. The Dark Clouds, the local supporter's group unaffiliated with the club, have been keeping this practice strong by handing out an annual award to the fan to excels in this regard.
Up close and personal with impressive athletes - We all like basketball. At it's core, is elite athletes competing to a completely arbitrary set of rules. Soccer is just a different type of elite athlete competing at a different set of arbitrary rules. Don't read too much into this being a second tier league in a third tier soccer country, these guys all have legit skills, which if you've never seen up close and personal (which you can at this cozy stadium) will completely blow you away.
Your help is needed - Pro soccer has existed in Minnesota continuously since 1990, which is a long stretch for our country. 5 years ago the team (Thunder) was bought out by a charlatan of a real estate developer who ran the finances into the ground and left town with a host of bills unpaid. Last year the National Sports Center stepped up, forming a new club on a short schedule using the front office and players from the Thunder. This year they decided they couldn't continue that business, so the team has been run by the league. For a team to survive here next year, an investor with deep pockets needs to step up and run a club the right way. Strong attendance for a momentum building postseason run is how you can help. (unless you have $20 million, in which case you can just be that investor).
Hot Nuts - An inside joke. The supporters section passes around a bag of Hot Nuts to share with anyone within arm's reach. And have a special chant celebrating the greatness of Hot Nuts.
Juggledancing - Bench players warm up during halftime of the game, often by juggling. When a dance club tune comes over teh speakers, they often dance along. While balancing a ball on their heads.
Beer -Hopefully you read this far down. Familiar with the Free Beer Movement? The premise is simple. In order to grow soccer in America, adherents of this ideology guarantee at a free beer to anyone attending their first pro soccer game. For the home leg of the semifinal match last week, Surly donated 15 cases for the tailgaters prior to the game. I'll probably be attending this game with my kids, otherwise I'd promise you free beer myself. However, instead I'll keep anyone interested abreast of developments in this regards.
So that's my spiel. Hopefully anyone who bothered to read this through hasn't been bored too much. Peace and futbol to you all, if you want to get tickets head over to http://nscminnesota.com/ for bargains, or just show up on gameday.
*EDIT* the Twins, Vikings, and Wild (but not our Twolves) have purchased 1,000 tickets to the game and are giving them away to fans for the asking. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get yours.