08 November 2006

You are part of the problem.

In terms of provacative soccer writing, this may be one of the greatest pieces of all times. Andrea Canales, who I have great respect for as a writer, says that while you can blame age, the players, Nowak, and the Front Office for DC's late season collapse, you should add one more item to that list - The Fans. Key graf:

...there’s a part of me that continues to wonder if the United fans could have done more to wake the team up. After all, if your kid is going to be late to school in the morning, you don’t sing encouraging lullabies. Drag the covers off the bed instead, and do it because you really care.

A few boos might have removed the blinders. Not just for the intensely loyal fans, but also for the players themselves.

Now, she's not saying the fans (specifically the supporters' clubs) are the reason, just that they might play into the equation. It's a fascinating argument. Of course, the knee-jerk reaction is to invoke words like "loyalty" and "passion" and dismiss the argument, but it is so measured and carefully constructed that I find it... well, I find it a bit persuasive. Is it disloyal to boo and catcall bad play, which we certainly saw some of at RFK?

Of course, the other part of this is that I'm naturally enamored with non-obvious arguments that would tend to get people's dander up, so who knows?

Anyways, yesterday was a long workday for me, so I didn't get to write all that I wanted to. It was also election day. In case you're wondering, a film crew documented my personal polling experience, which I present to you below:

13 Comments:

At 08 November, 2006 09:46, Anonymous GUTuna said...

It's one way to look at it, but obviously not how we look at it in the DC Supporter's Clubs.

We motivate our team by SUPPORTING them, not turning on them.

On top of that, even for the fairweather fan, there wasn't a whole lot on the field this season that would warrant booing. This side has a professional front office, competent management, and talented players. They won the Supporter's Shield! And, lest we forget, this team was eliminated after giving a fabulous effort. United lost because they were outplayed in a game of soccer by a very good team, not because of lack of effort.

One can argue about specific coaching decisions and on field play (and I do!) and still realize we're a LONG way from the dark years of 2000-2002. We often forget that in the midst of all the backbiting that accompanies a season-ending loss.

 
At 08 November, 2006 10:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you provide a link to that article? Thanks.

 
At 08 November, 2006 10:45, Blogger D said...

Ooops! Sorry, link coming. Will be up in a few minutes.

GUTuna: Well said indeed.

 
At 08 November, 2006 10:48, Blogger D said...

Okay, there should be a link now.

 
At 08 November, 2006 10:58, Anonymous boudewijnzenden said...

booing a team is the last thing a player needs or wants. it doesn't take a fan yelling to know they aren't playing well. if they don't realize it themselves their fellow teammates and coaching staff will do that for them. fans are not there to boo.

 
At 08 November, 2006 11:10, Blogger D said...

GUTuna: Okay, what you say is true... But I think there is still some part of the argument that resonates with me. A small part.

Boudewijnzenden: True, true, but is it right for the Supporter's to blindly follow their team no matter what? Now, while I think DCU for the most part didn't merit whistles or catcalls, I do whole-heatedy approve of the way the LARS walked out on the LA Galaxy to express their displeasure.

 
At 08 November, 2006 11:28, Anonymous SE Podcast said...

Boos were common from 2000-2003, as were anti-Rongen banners (the notorious Plane Incident, for example). And you can see how well that turned out for the team. There really was a genuine sense of optimism when Nowak took over in 2004 that was refreshing, and it has carried through until today. Hopefully, people will forget about the dark years.

 
At 08 November, 2006 12:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you can and should be selective in your feedback as a supporter. You need not boo all the time, and likewise singing all of the time (e.g. in the face of bad play) may not send the right message.

It has to do with timing. If the team is stinking it up on the field and halftime is called, that is the time for for "corrective feedback" which may or may not be booing. At the start of the second half, show continued support with songs. There is nothing wrong or contradictory, however, in supporting the club and criticizing play. I agree with the child metaphor used earlier - you must mark bad behavior and your disagreement with it in the same way you applaud good behavior.

Blind support offers little in the way of positives for anyone involved.

 
At 08 November, 2006 13:45, Anonymous Nick said...

I think boos can be warranted sometimes as well. However, other than some of Novak's decision making, I'm not sure anything this year was particularly "booable". Moreno, Gros, Olsen, Carroll all dropped in form, but I don't think it was because they weren't trying. Eskandarian was bad all year, but that's nothing new and he is a great guy in the community, so he gets somewhat of a pass as well. The defense was on and off, but I'm not so sure any of us fans really had that high of expectations for the D. If anything, Boswell and Perkins' development were positive signs for the future. The point being: Canales' argument is interesting, but i'm not sure it really applied to us this season, with the possible exception of Novak. But i don't think you boo a team of 11 players on the field because of a coach...

 
At 08 November, 2006 14:13, Anonymous Bill Urban said...

If the supporters had booed Ben Olsen, he would have finished one of his several chances?

Nonsense. I'm far from an Olsen supporter, but an argument that he was United's best player against NE is an easy one to construct, and that he even made the effort to get into the positions he took up is notable, not negative.

Had Olsen finished, or sainted Christian held possession when put through in the second half, the article would have had a very different slant.

How does this statement: "There’s the simple professional integrity and pride of wanting to win." in reference to United's players...

square with: "Yet it is human nature to take things for granted. I think that if DC players believe, even subconsciously, that their fans will always be supportive and cheer enthusiastically no matter how they play, an important element of motivation is lost."

Either United's players are dedicated professionals, or they aren't. Whether the fans are booing or cheering makes no difference.

As for Christian, fired in the crucible of Argentine supporter passion, would he not by Canales's own argument have become slack and disinterested during the team's poor run to finish the season, since there was no booing?

She says he didn't, yet castigates the fans for not booing enough during that very run. The line of reasoning falls down there, unless a conclusion is selectively being constructed to support an argument.

side note:

"Same old, same old. While other teams added fresh players (see: Houston Dynamo, Daglish, Kenny)"

yet another example of the necessity for editors...

 
At 08 November, 2006 14:51, Anonymous Paul S. said...

Erpen deserved a whistle from time to time this season. In the NYRB came, for example.

But whether or not he deserved them, would boos have focused his mind or destroyed his confidence? Maybe the supporters' groups should hire some shrinks to put together some psychological profiles on the players. All top secret, of course.

[/Kidding]

Also, I really need to learn how to whistle the way the Argentines do.

 
At 09 November, 2006 10:25, Anonymous BigKris said...

I seem to remember a game in early 2005 where the fans quite noticeably turned on David Stokes, who was having a bad game. (I think it was a game at the more intimate Soccerplex field in Maryland.)

I don't seem to recall that the fan's negative reaction helped poor Stoksie at all - in fact, I believe it may well have retarded his development.

These players have Nowak to get on their case and push them through negative reinforcement; they don't need more from the fans.

 
At 17 November, 2006 12:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget about who blames who, he's playing Arcadia here! I loved that album when i was 12, got me through the depression of Duran Duran's breakup.

 

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