Some People Do Not Like the Timber's Army


Someone wrote a letter to the Portland Timbers front office asking the Timber's Army "where's the line?" Now I don't bring this up as a condemnation of the TA nor do a I agree with many of the points in the letter. I only bring it up because for me personally it's an interesting issue that I will soon have to battle; how do I integrate my son into the real, passionate culture of the game without having to explain to my wife just exactly why our son would like to fly over D.C. tomorrow and defecate on the children of unwed mothers that may be found below (he's 2 and 1/2 and he'll repeat anything you say)?

Detractors will often (wrongly) point out that the game has no history in America and that most stateside teams lack any culture beyond their supporters group. Serious fans may know better than that but amongst ourselves we do acknowledge on occasion that for a real culture to evolve around our clubs the youth will have to get an education behind the goal as well as from the Saturday morning youth club. But no one really wants their kid singing about being up to their neck in (fill in the hated team of your choice) blood do they? That's an appointment with Child Protective Services just waiting to happen.

The whole debate reminds me of my Mom's record collection. My Mom always encouraged me to listen to and play music (as she so often did) but, she made damn sure to put her Funkadelic albums in a an out of the way place once I found them for fear of what the cover of The Electric Spanking of the War Babies would do to me. Maybe the answer for her was to let me know that there are these other things out there but I wasn't ready for all that as opposed to trying so hard to deny them that it made me want it more.

Who knows what the solution is for soccer though. Whatever it is will certainly take a minute to get here; a truce between the parents and the passionate won't come without a bit of time, tolerance and respect from both sides. And although I do believe that the notion of trying to rely on group sales to families and youth clubs hasn't been getting it done, we've still got a way to go before Crew Stadium has the same vibe as Buckeye Stadium. So in the interim let us be patient, let us be parents and let us be passionate.

Photo courtesy of Allison Andrews.


Anonymous said...

There's room for both, and MLS needs every fan it can get -- ultras, soccer moms, casually curious, hardcore, kids who play soccer. Advance planning by the front office goes a long way. Make it clear to the public which sections are R-rated, and which are PG, and you may get a few initial complaints, but people will learn and adjust accordingly. I don't know what NYRB and Philly are doing, but Portland can make sure that their renovated stadium has designated sections for everybody. It's not just about protecting kids. I love the passion of supporters and think it adds to the game experience, but would rather not be in the middle of it.

Anonymous said...

It surprises me how many people in the comments section of that article completely discount this family's opinion. It is a legitimate issue that some supporter's groups need stop dismissing.

Allison Andrews said...

The Timbers Army don't dismiss it. The language is much, much less a problem than it was a few years ago, while the size of the group has grown exponentially.

Yes, there are still a few chants that have the F-bomb in them and I don't like them, but it's really hard to make out the words unless you are sitting very close (you can move) or know the chants really well (you've already heard them before).

The fact that the poster just couldn't resist calling the entire group fat, white, drunk, really reveals their true intentions, if you ask me, and it's not the F-bombs they have a problem with. I feel sorry for their kids.

The photo is mine by the way, with the credit cropped off.


SF said...

Hey Alison. Grabbed the photo from here:


via Google image search. I'll add a credit for you in the post.


Finnegan said...

Here is the thing,

We have tons and tons of families and kids in the TA. In fact I would say teeming is a good word to use. There are plenty of parents who have been able to sucessfully integrate their kids into the TA gameday experience. They teach them words to the songs curse free. They teach them that these are "Timbers words" that only adults use at games. There are a million ways to parent successfully around this.

What Andrew and Laurie would like for us to do is parent for them.

No thanks.

SF said...

I hear you Finnegan. I think the thing is to have that kind of relationship with your kids where you can explain to them (whether you are in a supporters section or just within ear-shot) that there are things they can and can't say even if adults say them.

Keep it going up there. You guys sounded strong on FSC last week BTW.


Anonymous said...

Kid-Safe Supporters Group targeting family that like to cheer.

I'm dead serious. There are parents out there that Finnegan is talking about, cool. Then there are (unfortunately) parents like that ones that wrote the letter. Then there's future parents like me that love the supporters culture but know that staying the section is not a long term option. Just like any other support group, start small, enough people to make some noise, get the word out and others will join. Not a true supporters group maybe, but another great way to grow the love for the game with those kind of fans. Maybe we'll see some this start to spring up in the next 5 years.

Anonymous said...

"They teach them words to the songs curse free. They teach them that these are "Timbers words" that only adults use at games."

That's pretty weak way of parenting. Saying don't do 'this' and then hanging out with people that do is hypocritical.

Chris said...

I'm still not convinced that orienting the product around "families" as a nebulously understood concept is the way to go for soccer teams in the states. Obviously, my opinions may change if I ever get a family of my own.

The biggest problem that I see is that if teams begin to orient themselves around the "family" then they become hostage to them. I know from experience that families are fickle consumers in the entertainment market. I live in Des Moines and my family used to go to several Iowa Cubs baseball games a summer, but my parents decided to stop attending when they found out that the Menace (our PDL team) were a cheaper ticket. We stopped going to the Menace games when we found other, cheaper outlets for our entertainment dollars.

I don't think that targeting families ends up creating converts to soccer. You just get people who are happy to come as long as the price is right, but as soon as they see something more "cost-effective" their loyalty switches.

I still think that teams are better served going after committed fans and letting them create stadium atmosphere, within reasonable limits, and letting those people and the play on the field create converts. If families come, great. The atmosphere created by the committed fans should add to their desire to come back. But the teams and the fans should not be beholden to the "family" dollar and their desire not to have their pomaded hair misplaced by a section of enthusiastic fans.

Mr. Aggro said...

yuppie morons.

- 121 DC/BB

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