The Making of a Sports Fan: RJ Allen


Writing on the internet about sports is an unusual thing. Each time one of the Backline Soccer writers publishes their work, they do so through the lens of a lifetime of sports moments and experiences.

No writer is totally unbiased. The past moments that make up our sports lives define the fans that we are today. Our past experiences color how we view sports now—each kick of the ball, each card a ref pulls from their pocket, each tackle, each moment of triumph and of desolation, etc.

In order for you, our readers, to better understand the sports history of our staff, we’ve decided to have each writer describe three to five moments that changed and shaped who they are as a sports fan.

May I present our new series, “The Making of a Sports Fan”.

2004 USWNT Olympic semifinal vs. Germany

The soft spot I have for Heather O’Reilly was born in Greece on August 23, 2004 . I hadn’t planned to watch this match, but when I flipped on the Olympics, there it was. So, I decided to watch the US of A play some soccer. The USWNT was in a tough battle against Germany for a chance to go to the gold medal match. I was halfway through being 15 at the time, so seeing someone still in their teens (HAO was 19) enter in the 75th minute…I was hooked. When HAO—off an assist by the great Mia Hamm—scored the game winner to send us to the final, that was it for me. I was caught up in something that I had somehow managed not to get hammered with in 1999. I was suddenly a USWNT fan and a HAO fan for life.

2004 Red Sox Win after 86 years

The same year I became a USWNT fan I also saw my beloved Red Sox win the World Series after 86 years of struggle.

When I was a kid, my uncle moved to Boston at the same time I got into baseball. My grandmother was a huge Yankee fan, and being a kid, I wanted a team to root for against hers. So, we would “bet” 25¢ a game whenever the teams played each other. And for years I saw my team get close and just not be able to make it. But in 2004, there was something magical in the air. Something I’d never seen before. The Red Sox, down 0-3 to the Yankees, managed to come back and then sweep the World Series. They did the impossible. They finally got the monkey off of their backs. The night they won, I stayed up until nearly three in the morning, hiding under the blankets in my room and watching on my phone long after I should have been asleep. I will never forget the feeling of 86 years of struggle being let go in one magical moment.

2015 World Cup

This is not a moment but a magical month. The month I watched the USWNT finally get their third star. And in the process I decided to take a step and become a writer. That month—and the fall out—is why I am the Managing Editor of this website. Why I have some of the chances that I do. That month, watching those women, reminds one of the greatest moments of my life. I have met dear friends, cried, laughed, cheered until I just couldn’t anymore. All because of a 23-woman roster and the challenge of 7 games in about 30 days. The summer of 2015 will always be magical and a turning point in my life. A summer of rebirth.