Emerald City Supporters

Proud Supporters of Seattle Sounders FC

My confusing and mixed experience in DC

Travel with ECS to see SSFC play outside of Seattle.

Unread postby appohlmann » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:38:00 pm

I've been a Sounders fan since the year we moved to Seattle in 2009 and immediately became inaugural season ticket holders. There were many years where we didn't miss a single home match and we certainly never missed watching a match on TV or online. When my family needed to move away from Seattle we continued as avid fans and just recently joined ECS to take advantage of the great roaming supporters attending Philly this year and DC this weekend.

The group attending both games was amazing and my sons and I enjoyed the pregame festivities and singing songs. Until this weekend...

As we arrived at the stadium, a friendly camera crew approached the group as we were making our way to our seats. One of the ECS leaders (don't recall her name) in a sequince vest starting screaming expletives at the crew and pushed her Sounders supporter scarf into their lens. She screamed, "F___You you can't film us! We are here for ours boys" The screaming and expletive-laced confrontation continued for a couple minutes in front of lots of families and children until security came over and we all started walking to our seats. I talked to our sequined-leader who informed me that under no circumstances should anyone be allowed to film us because we are there "for our boys" and that filming us was against some rule I must not have read in the bylaws. I wonder if she knew the supporters group ends up on national television for every game? I also spoke with the camera guy who told me he was stunned with the confrontation and was simply going to provide clips of how well the Sounders fans travelled together.

Now to my real point...if we are really there for "for our boys", why did she, along with other ECS members, hold up signs reading "End Fascism, Always Seattle, End Racism" for the entire stadium and the television audience to see? Are we there for the boys to cheer and support their awesome work on the pitch to are we there to pursue a political agenda? Yes, I am totally up-to-date on the current MLS controversy and happen to take the side that sport should be totally devoid of political theater but I don't have to agree with ECS leadership on this point (good that a resolution is in the works).

I don't care if people wave signs on the field because I neither need to look at them or agree. I was waving a giant Sounders flag since that who I thought we were there to promote. The issue is whether we are really there to cheer and support (which we definitely did with the help of our great leaders in DC!!!) the team, or is this an opportunity to exploit national television for an agenda that has little to do with the success of the Sounders? My parents grew up under the iron fist of the Nazis in Germany. I recall that the real fascists were the ones who tried to suppress the free press from doing their job and filming when and where they choose. Bullying cameras crews is the domain of dictators and authoritarian regimes.

Let's focus on supporting "our boys" with vigorous cheering and song. Keep politics out of sport and let's most certainly be great ambassadors for the Sounders because the club will outlive us all. Go Sounders!
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Unread postby mrboone » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:13:34 pm

Hi there!
I'll let others who are more seasoned in ECS speak to other aspects of the gameday experience, but it is usually the case that supporters frown on media that are seeking to monetize or exploit our enthusiasm without sharing our commitments/values. As the be-sequined leader was pointing out- supporters are there to support the squad, not to serve as entertainment for others who are going to the match or watching on TV. In particular MLS has been happy to use supporter culture to promote their product, but unwilling to stand with us in any meaningful way.

With respect to the "political agenda" that an anti-racism/anti-fascism two pole might have conveyed in the stadium and to a television audience and if that is in opposition to the goal of supporting the squad, my own view is that ECS is a group that is seeking to create a space where all kinds of people can come and support Sounders together.
That means reminding the whole world that our commitment is always to Seattle, and to opposing racism and fascism. That doesn't feel like an extreme stance to me, or to you I'm sure. The one quibble I'd point out is that the creation of a politics-free space in a stadium is a nice idea, but is impossible for many people who feel marginalized, and we won't leave them behind.

I hope this feels like a helpful response. Happy to have any others add their thoughts if I've left any gaps or misspoke.
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Unread postby appohlmann » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:40:45 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful and cogent explanation of the ECS stance and values. As I reflect on your comment, I get a better idea of what you/we are trying to accomplish. Like many things, how this is communicated makes a big difference and the perception of the Sounders is either enhanced or diminished by how we collectively interact with others. Not sure yelling expletives at the media sends a unifying message - I am confident it alienates others and makes ECS appear bigoted...intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself...something that runs in conflict to an anti-faschist message.

I agree with the two pole message and I agree with supporting the Sounders. Lets keep cheering for a successful campaign in the playoffs!
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Unread postby shieldk2 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 7:31:56 am

Thank you for bringing this to the forums to share and look for answers. Mr. Boone’s response pretty much nails it. I would also add that many members simply don’t want to be photographed or filmed and we respect that.

Apologies that this negatively affected your support. The way in which we handle things does matter and this is something that we can all improve. Hope that you’ll continue to join us and keep lending your voice to the support.
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Unread postby appohlmann » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:09:13 pm

My support is unwavering. This was simply my reaction and I appreciate both of you providing more perspective for me.

BTW - I just heard about the horrible incident after the match. I wish my son and I had been there to help wherever we could but we walked out a different exit. I am a Sounder and an ECS member and therefore stand with all of you. Next time we will walk out with you and ensure our collective safety.
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