Here’s another one where I don’t even know where to start.
The beginning, I suppose. Always best to start at the beginning.
I’m amazed at the connections that link us. Sure, the most basic is that we come together once a week or so, eight or nine months out of the year, to cheer on a soccer team we all follow. But our net is cast much wider than that.
That guy I ran into pre-match? I know he and his mother-in-law from a writing group we’re all involved in that causes much gnashing of teeth each November. That capo over there? She went to high school with one of my best friends. They were on dance team together. This blogger I just met? He learned to play bass from a guy whose band I used to follow around in high school a very, very long time ago.
We are a community. We are a community of artists and writers and winemakers and IT guys and teachers and students and doctors and political activists on both sides of the aisle.
At the center of our community is our gathering place, our place of worship, our cathedral.
If Jeld-Wen Field is our cathedral, we are her congregation. Her rowdy, loud, passionately invested congregation.
And, like any thinking congregation, we sometimes find fault with our clergy.
And sometimes the church protects her clergy to the detriment of her congregation.
Well, guess what? Portland, though often touted as one of the “least churched” areas in the country, is home to a pretty fair number of Lutherans.
You know what that means?
We have a tendency to rant, write treatises and address the wrongdoings of those who lead our church. We make lists and nail them to doors.*
Yeah. I just tied Martin Luther to the Timbers. I. Just. Did. That.
So, last night, minutes before the game, I got a tip from a tweet that this had happened:
I wanted to communicate that there were several sings/banners at the last match they we felt crossed the line that will not be allowed up at this match. Our policy is that signage will not be allowed if they represent a personal attack on any of our players or staff. Any signage in the stadium that does make a personal (as opposed to professional) attack on our staff will be removed. Any resistance from fans regarding this will also result in those fans being asked to leave the stadium. We will continue respect the right of our fans to voice their opinions and appreciate the dialogue that we’ve had so far on this issue. Please share this with your membership as you see fit before tonight’s match. (Email sent from Chris Wilson, Timbers Director of Ticket Services, to the Timbers Army 107ist board)
Dare I switch metaphors mid-post? Our FO has fired a warning shot over the bow.
I know several folks have asked for clarification as to which banners crossed the line from professional to personal but, as yet, being a holiday weekend, no such clarification has been forthcoming. From my vantage point, I didn’t see anything that I thought was egregious. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive as the ginger on the sidelines.
Here’s the thing: Gavin is controversial. He says things that are inappropriate for a man in his position. His reputation for tossing his players under the proverbial bus is well-documented. He has, in the past, taken aim at the TA and knows the backlash that results from such a move.
But, somehow, a few banners in the North End are too much for him to handle? Spare me.
If we miss out on a playoff spot (we’re not officially out yet, you know), will it because the #GWout banners were so incredibly distracting to the coaching staff and the players? Nope.
Will it be because we’ve recruited a bunch of really good players and haven’t figured out how to slot them together into a consistent, winning side? Yup.
And whose fault is that? Gavin. Let’s remember one more time that this is the guy who, as interim coach, said he’d done all the coaching he could do. If I remember correctly, that was about two games into his tenure as interim. So, #GWin folks, please turn your attention to Sean McAuley. #McAuleyIN.
But, beyond this, we all need to be paying more attention. There’s something afoot in MLS: The Fort, Teddy Montoya’s lifetime ban in Colorado, the crackdown on the Texian Army in the spring, rumors of bans from other stadiums for minor infractions. That our own front office, the FO whose relationship with its team’s supporters group is a model for the rest of the league, would threaten us in such a way is unacceptable.
I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of every single word that comes from anyone in the FO. Is this another attempt to spin the story? Maybe, but I have absolutely no idea which story they’d be spinning. It was a fun week of Timbers news capped off by a win. What’s to spin? Or was it the other way around? Does all of this week’s good will make us more likely to settle down and play nice?
Cleats up, Timbers fans. And eyes open.
*Please do not interpret this as my suggestion that you actually nail something to a door at the field. Don’t. Do. That. That’s what email is for.
September 3, 2012 at 8:50 am
Perhaps we should all hold up two-sticks that says “CENSORED!”
September 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm
Don’t think I haven’t considered it.
In all fairness, I’m waiting for a reply from my ticket rep on the e-mail I sent asking for clarification. Holiday weekend still in effect.
September 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm
I can’t say this surprises me at all. Remember the “Fire Whitsitt” business over at the big house on Winning Way and how that played out? All sports ownerships want the fans to pay up and shut up (other than cheer). This doesn’t change my opinions of the Front Office because I honestly never thought that they were any “better” or enlightened than any other FO, just a little more wary of the organization of the supporters. It’s about the money, and they want the soccer dads from Beaverton to see the shiny happy people. It’s all about the money.
This brings home the reality that for all that we want to feel like part of the club, when it’s nut-cutting time the power is all on the other side. The only power we have is the power of the purse – we can boycott the club (no tickets, no merch, no spendy JWF beer) and try and hit them in the wallet. That’s a pretty scorched earth strategy.
So the protests in the stands are pretty much where we’re left, and this message from the FO suggests that they are willing to be pretty ruthless about suppressing anything significant. I can’t see the City of Portland as willing to fight Paulson on his excluding protestors from JWF, and that’s what it would take.
Again, the power here is in the wallet; look at Portsmouth FC; the supporters have actually set up a trust to buy the club (http://www.pompeytrust.com/). Short of that, when it comes down to cases, what do you think is going to happen?
I’d love to see an upgrade at GM. I want to think that we can MAKE it happen. I like your idea of the merch/concession boycott. But I still can’t really see how – short of a full-on wallet fight with Paulson – the supporters can make that happen.
September 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm
The truth of is this: so long as Merritt is committed to the path Gavin has put us on, Gavin will be a part of the club. There isn’t much we can do to change that.
It’s one thing to give up the spendy stadium beer and sketchy nachos, it’s quite another to give up one’s tickets. I’m not there yet. Gavin needs to go. I don’t.
One of the discussions I’ve had with people is about the so-called entitlement of those who are calling for a change in the GM position. What right do we have to demand someone’s removal from our club?
Really? None. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t still call for change where we think it will best suit the club.
At the end of the season, when the final points are tallied, that’s where it might get interesting. That’s where I would hope it gets interesting.
September 4, 2012 at 5:07 am
The argument that I’ve heard that makes perfect sense to me about this is that we the supporters “are” the club, in the sense that we are the ones with the passion, the love, the commitment across the years and even the generations. We are there in the stands not for years but for decades; I take my son to matches in hopes that he will keep going long after I’m gone, that he will teach HIS son or daughter to sing “You Are My Sunshine” with their scarves up twenty years from now.
In that sense, we have a stake in the club’s form, and if Gavin is a problem – and I think he is and will continue to be (if, as I suspect, he’s the one who was stockpiling all those strikers and ignoring the midfield and backline problems when Spencer was here) – then as “stakeholders” we can and should fight for what we see as the best way forward.
But as you say; if Merritt is dead-set against how we see things, that’s one ugly fight and one that we might have to go nuclear to win, if we can win.
Right now I’m just liking what I’ve been seeing on the pitch and hoping for the best. But as you pointed out; the price of freedom (and MLS Cups) is eternal vigilance, and this battle isn’t over by a long chalk.
September 4, 2012 at 11:49 am
I like you. I like you a lot.