When shooting at a sporting event, it is often difficult to tease out the nuggets of visual culture which might be of interest to those not easily pacified by the game itself. This is especially the case when well known sports are being played badly. In this case, deciphering the rules of the game itself tend not to carry our attention. Additionally, when a team from a country not known for its passion for the sport (think a hockey team from Angola) is loosing in dramatic fashion, it is easy to reach for the nearest smartphone in an attempt at distraction to stop the mind-numbing bloodshed. In this moment, enter supporters.
Supporters, or ‘Sah – poor – ter – suh’ in Konglish (Korean + English) play a vital role in keeping liquidity in the energy of an otherwise boring event. Made up of mostly upper-middle-aged and elderly, they often occupy two spaces in an arena (one for the home team, and one for the away team). In oscillating fashion, they pump out choreographed cheers of support upon instruction. Led by a master supporter of sorts, their cheers are buffered by the not-so-subtle low-end snaps of inflatable plastic tube upon inflatable plastic tube.
In this picture taken digitally, the remnants of a group of supporters seem to be recovering, having exhausted their energy in the first half of a hopelessly boring event during witch even they, recognize the unenviable task of having to pump up a crowd which could care less. However, all being said, the fact that they do exist, that someone or some entity has envisioned the need for their existence in itself is endearing. The more cynical among us could point out that their pretense belies an undercurrent of apathy concerning events which are not involving the host country or a medallion forged from precious metals. However, others among us might point out that regardless of who is cheering, and for what reason, these mercenaries provide the game with much needed energy; a game that if I were playing in, would most likely benefit from having my compatriots cheered for. Therefore, I salute you kind and most likely disgruntled folks. Good on you ‘Sah – poor – ter – suh’. Good. On. You!
(Photo and text by Marty Miller)