By Justin Adair

Over the last 6 years I have spent a lot of time behind the scenes running many areas of ECS, but one thing that a lot of people don't understand is why we do what we do. Most people are so caught up in "what" we are doing, or "how" it is supposed to be done. Which at the end of the day, are completely secondary to why we are doing it. So, I wanted to spend a little time talking about this and pose the question, do you know why you are here?

I see a not too distant future where the whole south end is chanting and waving flags. Where supporters show up on match day home or away and everybody knows the songs and is willing to sing, with the individuals becoming one voice. Where there are no arguments of flags in our section, but an expectation of them. Where teams hate to travel to Seattle, because they know how hard it is to collect points here.  I like to believe that it all starts with the ECS. We are the heartbeat of RBP, we are the life force that is keeping this beast alive. If anybody attended the Chivas de Guadalajara match in 2010, you know how soulless the stadium is without the supporters. There are MLS players and fans who don't even understand what the ECS is doing. They believe it is all about us trying to get on TV, trying to be the show. What they fail to realize is we are creating a culture, an environment where soccer is king, soccer is viable, soccer is a venue where heroes can be created in the American sports landscape. A sport where cities can be proud of what their team represents and a community of friends and peers that can share the love of a game on a Saturday night in their city, unlike any other sport can.

This audible and visual form of support is doing so much more to support the team than meets the eye. Sports all over the USA always claim to have the best fans, but we are literally redefining what the best fans could be in America. We are placing our individual experience a small step back to create an actual 12th man (not of individuals, but a team destroying giant robot, like Voltron) that can change games. I can think of many examples where our support seemed to kick our team into another gear, but I won't list them here to save space. In some small way, we are helping put soccer on the map in America in a way that the game itself can’t do alone.

When I am attending matches, home or away, I always like to think of all my friends that live here, all the teammates I have played this game with, and all of the exciting times that have already been given to us. Not just over the past 5 years, but since 1974 for some people. To a certain extent, I have the same love for the Mariners, Seahawks, etc, but mostly because I have friends that are invested in those teams and I want the city to excel on the sports scene. However, when it comes to soccer, it is different for me. This is my game, it is the only sport I ever cared about. I spent so much of my youth playing this game and I didn't even know you could watch it as a professional game until the 1994 WC. That is how screwed up this game was in the USA back then.

All of us growing up with the game know how much of a battle it has been for soccer to be accepted. My generation never even heard of the NASL, it had died within a few years of my birth. America had to start over from scratch with the birth of MLS. Well, I feel confident that those "hard times" are over. We are living in those "good ole times" right now. If you aren't enjoying yourself, you are a missing the point. If you are getting hung up on the small stuff, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing in this group. Even when the sounders are not playing well, I can't think of a better bunch of people to be miserable with.

You must realize that things aren't always going to go our way, but we can still play a major role in elevating the players on the field. If we are miserable, they are miserable. When they aren't performing, we need to raise our voices and lift their spirits. We must raise our flags as beacons of hope that the players and other fans in the stadium can see flying at the best of times and worst of times. With the flags held high, the signal reaches out and tells everyone that the fight isn't over, there is still belief and we still have pride in our team, in our city. I know sometimes this is the hardest thing to ask of the supporters, but it shouldn’t be. There will be times when we need to show disapproval, however, we have never really had a "real" crisis to complain about, so the constant whiners within the group get little sympathy from me.

In the coming years, the Brougham End will continue to grow and the minor struggles and arguments will come and go, but at the end of the day, my hope is we stay united and continue to work out the "Whats" and "Hows", but as long as we all know Why we are here, I think we'll be ok. Most of the time, I don’t worry about the final product of the south end, because I am busy enjoying the journey.

In the end, it is up to the individuals of the ECS. We have laid the ground work for Seattle to be the most iconic soccer city in America, but if you don't believe that it will continue to get better in time, then I don't know what to say. We need to keep on keeping on! The next generation of ECS leadership is out there right now and they really need to understand the why of ECS. Supporters need to believe that what they are doing can change the course of a match or even the season. Do you believe?