Functionalist Analysis of the Timbers Army

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The Timbers Army (TA) is a supporters group for the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer team. They are an all volunteer organization devoted to celebrating and cheering on the “boys in green” through chants, large displays or banners (known as tifo) and community service projects. They have been around since the late 1970’s during the first years of American professional soccer. With sellout crowds and displays of support, Portland was crowned Soccer City, USA and the title has stuck ever since. My personal experience with this organization started in 2009 when I was invited to a match. I had never been to a professional soccer match and was blown away at all the chanting, yelling and unified response to the actions of the players. Basketball and football games have passionate fans, too, but with everyone around me on their feet and chanting the entire 90+ minutes, I was hooked. I purchased my season tickets and have been a part of the Timbers Army ever since. With this experience in mind, I hope to analyze how two theoretical ideas relate to this organization – Parson’s Social Action Theory and Merton’s concepts of manifest and latent function. Parson’s four “functional imperatives” – adaptation, goal attainment, Integration and latent pattern maintenance – are the four basic problems this group must deal with in order to survive as a system. Adaptation refers to responses to the physical environment, which in this case is how the TA responds or adapts to the match and the stadiums inhabitants. The organization has created chants to express joy of the game, enduring love and appreciation for the team and unacceptable behavior of other fans, the players and of the officials on the field. Based on the performance of the team, the crowd may get louder. If the officials miss calls or make bad decisions, the crowd may also get loud and hostile. If a fan
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