On weekend mornings from August to May, thousands of American soccer fans stuffed into replica uniforms gather at their nearest British or Irish pub to scream in unison at a television. It’s the popular way English soccer is consumed in America, and it was the closest I could get to the actual experience of England’s famous stadium atmosphere.
But this season my viewing ritual transformed: Instead of a noisy pub, I now sit at home with headphones on in front of my laptop. Gone are the aromas of spilled beer and room-temperature breakfast sausage. The mood is considerably lighter: I laugh more and rage far less.
That’s because I’m not watching the highest echelon of soccer — or anything close to it. I’m following something like the lowest professional echelon, via the weekly YouTube episodes of an irresistible team with a ridiculous name: Hashtag United. Last weekend I smiled and laughed as they celebrated clinching their league's championship — in the 10th division of English soccer and on a field called the Old Spotted Dog Ground. For this, they’ll be promoted to the dizzying heights of England’s ninth division next season.
Hashtag United isn’t particularly easy to explain. It’s a three-year-old semipro soccer team from London’s suburbs that laboriously films their games, adds witty commentary, then posts episodes on YouTube — pregame banter, match highlights, locker-room talks, postgame interviews and all. Oh, and until this season, they played real games, but in an imaginary league.
Hashtag United’s popularity beggars belief. Only two teams have more YouTube subscribers than the channels of Hashtag United and its founder put together: Real Madrid and Barcelona. Hashtag’s cyberspace fan base has enabled the team to embark on tours of Europe and the United States as part of those fictional league seasons, sponsored by entirely real companies like Coca-Cola.
In August 2018, things got truly surreal: Hashtag United entered a real league — the 10th division of English soccer.
Why would someone watch this when the world’s best soccer is more accessible than ever? Well, what’s more relatable than a bunch of hilarious guys with day jobs who play on a soccer team just for fun — sometimes running late to matches, requesting days off work or missing games to go on their honeymoon? Hashtag United is a polished, all-access look at a grass-roots English soccer team at a time when the top of the sport feels less authentic and equitable than ever, with its Lamborghini-collecting, tax-dodging, magnificently coifed stars who insouciantly hop from one megaclub to the next (many of which are owned by Russian oligarchs, Arab royalty or American businessmen).
Hashtag’s players, preternaturally charming and telegenic, talk and joke directly into the camera. The games all feature cinéma vérité room scenes in which the coach Jay Devereux lays out strategy, hypes them up or roasts his players for underperforming. Celebrity guests and retired stars materialize for cameos. It’s an addictive, weekly serial of English soccer, viewed from the bottom.
Hashtag United, for its refreshing dose of reality, is actually a case of life imitating art. Its 30-year-old creator, Spencer Owen — a former standup comedian who grew a large following on YouTube from humorous videos that offered tips for the enormously popular FIFA soccer video game — wanted to bring that video game experience to life.
He created a world of soccer that mirrors video gameplay by inventing his own leagues, with point totals to reach each “season” in order to move up to the next “division.” Soon Hashtag was playing reserve teams, company teams or any team that didn’t mind playing the role of second fiddle. Every match was watched by tens or hundreds of thousands of viewers — largely 16- to 25-year-olds for whom the video-game homage intuitively makes sense or older, cynical Gen Xers like me who long for the authentic “Englishness” that drew them to the game before it got swallowed up by commercialism and who sit in front of a computer all day at work — again, like me. Their matches rack up 250,000 to 500,000 views (for comparison, just under half a million Americans watch the average Premier League match).
Their popularity catches many adults — but especially Hashtag’s players — off guard. For example, at one Hashtag tournament, according to Seb Carmichael-Brown, the team’s commercial director, “we had Robert Pires, World Cup winner with France, come in to the dressing room with his children — to meet us.”
Last summer, Hashtag leapt into the real-world Eastern Counties League Division One South and hired Mr. Devereux, an experienced manager who speaks in what sounds like a delightful, ear-tickling Essex accent, to lead them.
Hashtag United are a decent team for their level, but their appeal has little to do with winning. While their professional treatment of pretend-league games felt like an elaborate, Andy Kaufman-style stunt, their leap into a real league, still presented with slick production values, now feels more like a tacit critique of modern sports.
After all, these are unpaid players with normal real-world jobs who nonetheless get stopped for selfies on the street or at the supermarket, according to Mr. Carmichael-Brown. The backdrop to their journey is wet, windswept, nondescript fields around greater London, before sparse crowds and signage advertising local rental van companies or radiator dealers. It’s a reprieve from the overwrought, media-driven drama, tribalism and emotional toll that sports takes on a dedicated fan. Hashtag United’s ethos and its success remind us that sports can actually be enjoyed, rather than experienced as a weekly life-or-death ordeal or as a battlefield for a proxy culture war.
But just as any escapist entertainment comes into sharpest relief when contrasted with what it’s an escape from, it seems unlikely you’ll ever see Hashtag United on the big screen at a bar. The small screen — your smartphone — suits them. Hashtag United is the ideal “second team” for its fans, all of whom watch the team the same way I do: alone, and all to ourselves. We each follow our first team of choice every week out of obligation, but we all follow Hashtag United just for fun.
Adam Elder is a writer in San Diego.
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2017年开奖记录手机完整版【栖】【凤】【台】。 【鸾】【凤】【椅】【上】【端】【坐】【着】【一】【个】【玄】【衣】【男】【子】，【五】【官】【深】【邃】，【神】【态】【庄】【严】，【浑】【身】【上】【下】【散】【发】【着】【一】【股】【上】【位】【者】【的】【威】【严】【气】【息】。 【而】【台】【下】【则】【立】【着】【一】【个】【周】【身】【珠】【光】【宝】【气】【的】【小】【正】【太】，【像】【是】【个】【还】【没】【长】【大】【的】【孩】【子】，【偏】【偏】【眉】【宇】【紧】【皱】，【像】【是】【着】【急】【得】【快】【要】【上】【火】。 【事】【实】【上】，【台】【下】【的】【青】【螭】【确】【实】【快】【要】【急】【疯】【了】，【他】【方】【才】【跟】【凤】【翊】【废】【了】【老】【半】【天】【劲】【儿】【解】【释】【了】【一】【大】【堆】，【可】
【虽】【然】【有】【朱】【由】【检】【的】【穿】【越】【乱】【入】，【但】【朱】【由】【检】【还】【是】【笃】【定】【历】【史】【上】【的】【宁】【远】【兵】【变】【仍】【然】【会】【不】【可】【避】【免】【的】【发】【生】。 【据】【史】【料】【记】【载】，【崇】【祯】【元】【年】【七】【月】【二】【十】【五】【日】，【宁】【远】【发】【生】【兵】【变】，【哗】【变】【首】【先】【是】【由】【从】【四】【川】、【湖】【广】【调】【来】【的】【部】【队】【发】【起】【的】，【以】【杨】【正】【朝】、【张】【思】【顺】【等】【为】【首】。 【他】【们】【先】【秘】【密】【串】【联】，【再】【集】【中】【到】【广】【武】【营】，【会】【盟】【歃】【血】，【率】【先】【兵】【变】。【接】【着】，【事】【态】【不】【断】【扩】【大】，【影】2017年开奖记录手机完整版“【我】【又】【没】【死】，【又】【不】【认】【识】【你】，【跟】【我】【鞠】【躬】【干】【嘛】！”【顾】【北】【辰】【揉】【着】【发】【胀】【的】【脑】【袋】，【慢】【慢】【的】【支】【撑】【着】【身】【体】【做】【起】【来】。 “【既】【然】【你】【不】【愿】【意】【让】【我】【让】【你】【一】【招】，【那】【我】【就】【先】【出】【手】【了】。”【斗】【笠】【男】【子】【手】【指】【一】【挑】，【银】【光】【闪】【闪】【的】【剑】【身】【从】【剑】【鞘】【中】【跳】【了】【出】【来】，“【得】【罪】【啦】！【无】【极】【剑】【光】！” “【出】【手】？【出】【什】【么】【手】【啊】！”【顾】【北】【辰】【一】【脸】【懵】【的】【嘟】【囔】【着】，【忽】【然】，【顾】【北】【辰】【只】【觉】【得】
“【我】【会】【看】【那】【些】【书】，【也】【会】【看】【你】【的】【书】，【我】【个】【人】【觉】【得】【吧】，【你】【要】【能】【融】【合】【起】【来】，【肯】【定】【能】【写】【出】【新】【意】。”【林】【檬】【说】【道】。 【苗】【陌】【长】【叹】【了】【一】【口】【气】，【然】【后】【苦】【笑】【了】【一】【声】：“【唉】，【我】【现】【在】【觉】【得】【自】【己】【很】【纠】【结】，【就】【是】【那】【种】……【当】【婊】zi【还】【想】【立】【贞】【洁】【牌】【坊】！” “【哪】【有】【人】【说】【自】【己】【婊】【的】？”【林】【檬】【不】【免】【有】【些】【好】【笑】。 “【真】【的】……”【苗】【陌】【蹙】【着】【眉】【头】。 “【那】
“【快】【消】【灭】【那】【个】【该】【死】【的】【家】【伙】！” 【一】【名】【保】【卫】【者】【很】【快】【从】【慌】【乱】【中】【反】【应】【过】【来】，【愤】【愤】【的】【看】【了】【一】【眼】【天】【空】【的】【魔】【翼】【龙】，【顿】【时】【抬】【起】【手】【中】【的】【枪】【倾】【泻】【出】【愤】【怒】【的】【子】【弹】。 【见】【状】，【附】【近】【一】【些】【保】【卫】【者】【纷】【纷】【找】【准】【机】【会】，【抬】【枪】【对】【着】【魔】【翼】【龙】【扫】【射】。 “【叮】【叮】【叮】” 【无】【数】【子】【弹】【打】【在】【大】【型】【魔】【翼】【龙】【表】【皮】【上】，【发】【出】【阵】【阵】【金】【属】【声】【响】，【仿】【佛】【保】【卫】【者】【们】【的】