PrintPrint

Caps Corner: Miller humbly does the Humba for fans

Peter Schaad, Team 1040

4/1/2014 2:07:32 PM

There were several obvious storylines after Vancouver defeated Houston Saturday to keep the Whitecaps unbeaten early in the 2014 MLS season. There was the audacious 50-yard swerving, fizzing turf-trimming ball played from Pedro Morales to Gershon Koffie in the first half. There was another solid Darren Mattocks performance where, despite not finding the scoresheet, the young Jamaican played a huge role in both Whitecap goals. And there was goalkeeper David Ousted, who faced 26 Dynamo crosses, but staved off a big, physical Houston team with strong hands and a commanding presence.

But none of those moments generated the kind of reaction that Kenny Miller garnered after the game was over. It was a moment that went viral, appeared on local newscasts, and revealed an aspect of sporting culture not often witnessed in North American arenas.

The "Humba" begin in the German carnival town of Mainz, and gained momentum when Lucas Podolski grabbed the bullhorn and led his nation's supporters in song after Germany dispatched Portugal during the quarter-final round of the '08 European Championship.

It's rare in sport to see supporters and players share the kind of moment that occurred Saturday afternoon. It's even more intriguing when a German tradition, led by a former Scottish international, takes place in a Canadian stadium. Seeing a shirtless Kenny Miller, the game-winning penalty hero, asking his adoring throng to "give him an H" was as symbolic as it was enamoring. He was in fact naked among the paying public. Stripped down of his past achievements, his fame, his designated player status. At that moment, Kenny Miller was among them, celebrating a hard earned victory.

It was a scene more reminiscent of a concert, with the lead singer joining the crowd, before being surfed back to the stage.

Apart from the "Lambeau Leap", what other sporting circumstance brings the fans, and the stars so close together? Creating a bond, and appreciating the sporting customer is a rare occurrence in North America where the economic divide between pro athlete and paying public seems to be getting wider with every collective bargaining agreement. The big corporate nature of sport doesn't often inspire brand to mix with consumer so spontaneously.

If the Humba tradition catches on in Vancouver, let's hope the spirit of humility and genuine fan appreciation that Kenny Miller showed on Saturday is merely the beginning of something much bigger.