For many of us, the possibility of a strike by MLS players just as the season is set to begin has been something that we’ve relegated (see what I did there) to a dark corner of our minds. And here we are, just days away from the opening dates of the MLS calendar and the players are still looking for free agency and the owners, well, we don’t know what they want because they aren’t talking.
But there are a fair number of folks that have no idea that a strike could be on the horizon. They’re gleefully, blissfully unaware. They may be your friends, your neighbors, the people who sit in front of you at games. I worry about them.
I worry that they won’t get it. I worry that, if the time comes, they’ll be more concerned with what their time is worth than they are with what the players are worth.
The players are gathered in a hotel in DC and have, both literally and figuratively, drawn the blinds. We don’t know what’s happening there, just that they’re still there, still meeting, even as MLS officials have reportedly left the building.
Watching Twitter, people I know are exchanging anecdotes about people who didn’t see this coming, who until very, very recently didn’t know a strike and/or a work stoppage were possibilities.
Gleefully, blissfully unaware.
This. This is where it might all fall apart for the players.
Fans of MLS clubs, like it or not, fall mostly into the casual category. They might be season ticket holders. They might even wear the scarves of the local supporters group. But do they really, in great numbers, have any idea this is happening?
I support the players and, should the vote to strike, I will continue to support the players. I’m not so sure those thousands of casual fans will.
So, this is my challenge to you, fellow supporters of MLS clubs: talk about this. Talk to everyone you know who has even a passing interest in MLS, or soccer as a whole, or even just sports. Make sure they know. Make sure they’re paying attention to the scant reporting that’s being done on the subject. Look to Jeffrey Carlisle (@jeffreycaslisle on Twitter) or Brian Strauss (@brianstrauss) or Steven Goff (@soccerinsider) for links and explanations of what’s going on. Or, for a slightly more clandestine account of the proceedings, check out Aaron Stollar (@aaronstoll) and Brooke Tunstall (@yessthatbrooke) who might still be standing in the parking lot of the hotel and are worth a Twitter follow if only to see if they’ve frozen to death.
And, should it come to a strike, I would urge you to make your views known to the teams themselves. Write letters. Actual letters. Don’t just bombard your ticket rep with angry emails, make your words mean something. Make them tangible. Pen on paper.
If you follow the players on Twitter, reach out to them. Let them know you stand with them. They’ll likely take a lot of crap from people who have no idea what’s going on.
Further still, if we reach game day with no actual game being played, make sure you hit your usual game day haunts. Bartenders and servers at bars and restaurants around MLS stadiums will be missing those tips. The effect of a strike reaches far outside the gates of the stadium.
Maybe we’ll wake up in the morning and all of this will have been resolved. Good. Either way, see you all this weekend at the bar by the stadium.