14 October 2008

On the Houston Louis Crayton Incident

On many occasions, this blog has written about teams getting highly charged situations horribly wrong. Real Salt Lake with the Piotr Nowak/Atiba Harris incident and Chicago with the Blanco punch both come to mind. Which brings us to the Louis Crayton incident in Houston. There was a way that Houston, in a short minded way of trying to save face, could have played the incident with their fan using racial taunts: "We didn't hear the incident, but it doesn't excuse players going into the stands and endangering our fans." Put out some faceless spokesperson for the team. That sort of thing. And, you know, they might have a point -- Crayton shouldn't go into the stands, no matter what the provocation. That would have been the right response. If you have the tolerance of a saint. Now, if my position was swapped with Louis, well, I think we would have responded similarly.

That being said, Houston is currently running a top of the website headline apologizing to Louis, and condemning the action of one bad apple. And for that, we should recognize that they have got this exactly right. Dynamo President Oliver Luck has not tried to play some silly PR game to save face. He manned up and took the high road. Houston reported the incident to MLS, without waiting for United to take some action. We can argue about details here and there, but this is a refreshingly honest and strong denunciation:

"The Houston Dynamo would like to apologize to Louis Crayton, the Liberian goalkeeper for D.C. United, for the stupid remarks directed at him after the conclusion of Sunday's D.C. United-Houston Dynamo match.

We condemn in the harshest terms the comments made by one of the 17,000 fans in attendance on Sunday. With the highest level of certainty we can state that this individual, who has been banned from attending Dynamo matches indefinitely, does not represent in any way the vast majority of fans who are part of the Dynamo family, nor do they represent the position of the franchise or the league.

...I would encourage all Dynamo fans to express to Louis Crayton and the D.C. United organization that we are an open, welcoming, and tolerant community. Please take a minute or two and send a short note to Louis care of the following e-mail address: DHicks@dcunited.com.

Really, that's about as stand-up a position as you could possibly hope for. While I am not the aggrieved party in this situation, as a United fan I have a tremendous amount of respect for the way in which Houston has approached this situation from the point of view of an organization. They think it's atypical of their fans, but they're not using that as an excuse to ignore it. They've confronted it, they've made their actions clear, and we should applaud them.

As for the fan in question, there's no doubt that he's a fuckwad of the highest order. Racism in soccer is something that we've kept mercifully far from our games for years, and now to have someone not just use racial epithets, but also to cop the language of La Liga style slurs with "Monkey" just proves what a racist, anti-american, euro-poseur this dick is. Thrice damned over. Houston may have lost a fan, but they're a better organization for it.

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At 14 October, 2008 09:43, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it helps, too, that Louis clearly wasn't going in to throw a punch. He just wanted to know why the guy was being such a dick - a futile question, of course, but it strikes me as right in line with everything we have seen of Crayton's character so far. He's wide open and engaging with everyone: teammates, fans, opposing forwards, linesmen, racist idiots... there's no stopping him. :)

At 14 October, 2008 10:53, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly a class move by the Houston organization. This is one of the reasons I don't begrudge them the success that they've had so far.

At 14 October, 2008 12:31, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Houston has handled the situation well.

Is it really possible to ban a fan for life? If he walks up to a ticket window, he can still buy a ticket. There is no carding of individuals when buying a ticket. Even if they post his picture, are the ticket drones really going to be looking for him? Assuming that they are, all he has to do is wear a hat or whatever and he can walk right in.

I understand the sentiment, and there really wasn't anything stronger that they could do, but all they are really saying is that we will never sell this fan season tickets again. Not that he couldn't have a friend buy them...

At 14 October, 2008 23:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, in addition to not selling season tickets, there *is* one other ramification of banning someone. If he/she violates the ban, and then gets in any more trouble at the stadium (so that the team/stadium officials have an opportunity to find out who he/she is and realize he's someone that's been banned), then the team/stadium have the option of pursuing a criminal charge for trespass.

At 17 October, 2008 12:45, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best word in this post: "Fuckwad." Bless you, sir! Made my day. :-)

At 17 October, 2008 13:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrible post. It seems we've reached a tipping point in our society where we feel using vitriol on others whose free speech is at odds with our beliefs.

The author of this post is no better than that fan who used said langauge in describing United's keeper.

The best approach would have been to ignore that which you will spend a lifetime fighting against. Free speech isn't defined as limited speech that agrees with your ideological leanings or speech that is suitable to your sensativities.

People can say what they want to say. Should you not like what they speak then simply exercise the choice to ignore what was said.

At 20 October, 2008 12:57, Blogger Bob said...

to CH - aren't you dead?


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