Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blame the Fans?

I wasn't going to comment on this, because I really didn't feel like adding to the debate. However, the more I think about this, the more I find it unnerving.

Andrea Canales wrote an article about how there are several reasons why DC United flopped like a fish out of water in the last months of the 2006 MLS season. She cites several reasons; fatigue, lack of new players, living in the past, Peter Nowak and the DC Fans.

That last one is what bugged me. Everywhere I have checked, DC United fans have been praised for bringing the greatest atmosphere to RFK and any other stadium that they travel to. Despite how bad United are doing on the field, the DC United supporters groups, Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles (whom I am a member of) and La Norte always are there, singing, chanting, screaming and jumping up and down, supporting the club. So now Ms. Canales is saying that the supporters groups are at fault for not booing the club that they "support?"


One thing that has made me love soccer in the United States so much more than the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL is that regardless of how bad the match is, the fans remain fans and they always support the club. Yes, in my seat at RFK, I bitch about how Freddy is slow to pass a ball. I whine when there is a missed shot or when Jaime tries for the 1 millionth time to dribble through 3 defenders at the top of the box. Yet I still went to 14 home matches this season, have my season tickets set for next season, and am currently trying to figure out ways to travel to Toronto, LA, New Jersey, Chicago and Columbus for road games next year, at a minimum. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a MLB game and guys in the stands do nothing but bitch and berate the home team, while wearing the home team's hat and jersey. American soccer fans are supporters, those others are spectators.

American soccer fans, specifically the three DC United supporters groups, are the greatest in the league because they cheer for the club, regardless of the results on the field. They feel that it is their job and responsibility to cheer and make as much supporting noise for the club, and that is the way to help the club get out of a funk. If they decided to only cheer when the club is doing well, they would be called NFL fans, instead of Supporters Groups. I do not want to be known as an NFL fan, I want to be known as a member of a DC United supporters group.

So getting back to Ms. Canales' article. The last I checked, the supporters groups aren't paid to do anything. They pay the club to attend the matches, because that is what they want to do. Why blame a group of people who pay to go to a sporting event, to support the club? Hell, if anything, the supporters groups, based on your logic, should be asking for some compensation. They supported the club when they did not deliver on the field.

The simple fact is that regardless of how the game is going, if DC United is playing at RFK, then you will get the sounds and chants of Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles and La Norte, for 90 minutes, loud & proud. You will expect to see several smoke bombs go off, cups of beer tossed in the air when a goal is scored, and streamers tossed at the field. You will see flags flown during the match and if you don't want to see the flags in front of you, sit on the "quiet" side of the stadium.

The day that none of these are not found, at every match, then the league should start calling itself NASL. The players on the field are professionals and they and their coaching staff should be professional enough to get up for a match, regardless of how the people in the stands, supporters or spectators, treat them.


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