My Year in the Roster Stalking/ Silent Instagram Liking Game

Roster stalking is simply a way to familiarize yourself with the faces of athletes that are going to be on your “campus,” albeit college, or for me now, professional, training ground.

Disclaimer: I’m really sick of people who make roster stalking out to be a bigger deal than it actually is. Us real roster stalkers aren’t setting out to find the person we're going to marry and it has nothing to do with dating whatsoever. I used to do it at BC to both the girls and the boys teams equally. For those of you that have your mind in the gutter- what you're thinking of is called Jersey Chasing/Catfishing and is a conversation for another day, on another platform that doesn’t hold the strict Sam Mewis standard of “anything that’s not PG or doesn't have perfect grammar will put us all in jail for life.”

It’s really just a part of the process of the first week you move to your new team. Monday you put your kitchen stuff away. Tuesday you organize your closet. And Wednesday when its all over, you reward yourself with a pizza, put your feet up, and ferociously and shamelessly comb through every roster picture of every athlete that’s not on your team but you’ll be certain to walk by in the first month. The other teams stalkers will deny it. They may call you crazy, say they're above it. But mark my words, if born in the 1990s, they're doing the same.

The Toyota Park roster stalkers share no more than a truce- a way to silently say hey, we’re just a bunch of young adults who just got out of college and are all navigating the jungle of professional sports together, while still forgetting our shin guards and spending the majority of free time getting carpel tunnel from our cell phones. In the jungle, Tarzan’s weapons were the ropes he swung from. Ours? That little heart shaped button on the bottom left of every photo. 

Understand? Now, let’s dive into the phases in the world of my current, unspoken Instagram game: 

Arena: Toyota Park

Players: Chicago Fire, Chicago Red Stars

Age: 25 and under (I hope)

  1. As previously stated, knowing the Red Stars were moving to Toyota Park this year, I wanted to familiarize myself with the inhabitants. After (and only after) I unpacked my apartment, I went through the Fire’s roster like it was a life-saving manual on a deserted Island. 
  2. Pick a few cohabitants to follow. Again, born during or after 1991. Roster stalking is a great way to wave the white flag and show you're a friendly post-grad just like them, but will look inherently bizarre to someone who is closer to 30 and actually uses social media for nothing other than to show the public what they’re up to like a normal person. 
  3. From this point on, like every single one of their pictures from here on out through the end of the season. Rain or shine. Happy or sad. HELL OR HIGH WATER. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually matter if you like or dislike their picture. For us, that's not what Instagram is about. Never has been, never will be. A like is a truce, and once you start, you can’t stop. We all know the drill, and even ONE missed like could be taken as a sign of conflict. They have done and will do exactly the same in return. 
  4. Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: Despite what we have going on in our post-grad Instagram world, we never speak to, look at, or acknowledge each other's existence when we walk by one another on the path that goes to and from the training ground. Why do we do this? It’s not because we don’t like each other by any means. But rather because that ruins the game for everyone. 

Obviously, if you are friends from meeting previously outside of the arena, that's an exception. However, it still kind of bugs me because their little "hey how are ya's" put the rest of us at risk to have to face the reality of our Instagram-liking chicken game. I actively avoid walking with people who I know are friendly with some players on the Fire, and instead try to roll with anyone over 27 I can find who has no idea our what is going on in the first place. So, if any of you read this (they will because I’ll put the link on my Instagram Story): 

1) You know who you are

2) If people outside of our age bracket and Instagram safe zone ever approach you about the concept, run as fast and as far as you can in the other direction. They don’t understand us. 

3) PLEASE do not use this article as a Segway to break our now 2 month rooted tradition of communicating solely through our 100% mutual Instagram like exchange rate. 

**That being said, I am willing to give you all 50% off a Sporting Chic Water Bottle. Leave the money behind the porta potty next to our turf practice field and I’ll swap it out for the merch the next day**