Oh Yeah, Because We Love This Game.
It’s been a wild week for AC STL fans. A big win against Miami which gave playoff hopes and a devastating loss to Minnesota to crush that dream. But that’s what happens when you follow a team. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. We’re an expansion team and while it might not be realistic to hope to win the league, we back our club. But the question has come up many times this season, does our club back us?
First and foremost, the players have been great. I don’t think anybody has had a negative experience with a player all season. They’re always appreciative of the support we lend. But I’m not talking about the players. I’m more concerned with the front office. It’s been a bumpy ride. We can excuse the beginning of the season woes as a new team finding its feet. No emails or letters thanking us for buying season tickets. No real communication of any kind. Erratic messages on Facebook or Twitter. Misprinted tickets. A lack of merchandise available for purchase. All things that could be forgiven for a team that is just starting up. But by now I would have expected things to have improved, but they’ve actually gotten worse.
I get that there was a financial meltdown and lots of things happened, but I don’t think its unreasonable to expect a little courtesy and appreciation. You know, a lot of people that sit in the corner do a lot of work for this team and for their efforts they get no money. In fact, some of us spend quite a bit of our own money supporting the team. We give a lot of time to promoting and hustling and trying to get more people out to the games and really all we ask is for a little respect. But time and time again we get nothing.
We do more marketing than the team does. We make flyers, post pictures and videos. We paint banners and sing and chant and in general make the matches fun. We invite new people to every game and we even organize events to attract new fans. We made our own shirts and organized several groups into a pretty decent unit. Seriously, when’s the last time AC posted game pictures? As of today their flickr account and website doesn’t have any photos past the home opener. They’ve only got 16 videos uploaded to their YouTube channel and there hasn’t been a new one posted in four months. Are you kidding me? And don’t say it’s a money thing because YouTube and Flickr are free. Facebook is free. Twitter is free. There’s a whole hell of a lot you can do for free.
But all this time I kept telling myself it would get better. We get no information about what’s going on and have to get our news from blogs in other states that somehow find out more than we do. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next year, but still we come out to the games. I won’t lie, its hard work. Our numbers have dropped. Even the die hard supporters are shrinking in numbers. The corner is about half as full as it used to be and the other side of the pitch’s numbers are dropping too. I just kept telling myself that if we get through this year then things will be better. Cooper will get better investors or will sell the team to somebody with more money and they’ll fund this thing properly. Maybe we’ll get someone who really loves soccer and will do things for the fans and really appreciate us and our efforts. I still had hope…
Then came the clusterfuck that was the Season Ticket Holder’s Party last Sunday. Lots of people I talked to about it at the game on Saturday didn’t even know about the event. Seems they still haven’t gotten the broadcast email thing working enough to guarantee that all the season ticket holders get messages. Still, others knew about the event but weren’t interested. They wanted to watch the Rams game- who the hell would schedule a sports event the same time as NFL opening day? Again, more people didn’t have any interest in going because they just knew it would be a disappointment. Someone even begged me not to go because it would be a waste of my time. But I persisted. I paid for my season tickets and I deserved to have a party for me and my fellow dedicated soccer fans. I even convinced a few others that weren’t going that we deserved the event and not to go would be crazy. It was part of the season ticket package. I knew it would be poorly organized and poorly attended, but I wanted to say hi to some of the players and pick up my season ticket-holder gift. I’d have a bite to eat, hang out with a few friends and go home.
How did that work out for me? It was an insult. I mean it would have been better if I’d have driven to soccer park and there would have been a sign taped to the door saying cancelled. I got a bag of Athletica swag- yes the defunct Women’s Professional Soccer team, including headbands and pony tail holders and a pair of ladies soccer socks. To eat we had hot dogs that were obviously warmed up leftovers from the night before. And to top it off there was no eloquent speech or polite thank you to the people that paid for season tickets. They shoved the players out into the crowd without any introductions and told us to eat and get autographs. They also encouraged us to bid on the silent auction items for which the proceeds would go to buying under privileged children tickets to the last game. Thanks for coming.
I felt sorry and embarrassed for the players. They’re supposed to be professional athletes and should be treated with a little respect. At least an introduction. And speaking of which, the players gave a nice thank you speech and introduced the host families to the crowd in attendance. That was the nicest moment of the day. Aside from the players and a couple of staff members there wasn’t much an AC STL presence there. I was really hoping to at least get a sincere thank you for sticking with them through a crazy season. I was hoping maybe some of the top brass would have at least been in attendance to shake a few hands. I guess I was hoping for too much. I decided to leave before it ended because I was fairly depressed. On my way out the door the highest ranking AC staff member there said, “see ya”. And I thought to myself that’s really all it is to this team. I paid my money and they gave me a mediocre show and they think we’re square. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
There are two more games this season and I’ll be at them both. I’ll cheer and I’ll sing, but you know- my spirit is dampened a bit. I didn’t think that was possible. I’ll still give the players my full support because they deserve it and they haven’t quit on the fans. If what they deal with on a day to day basis is like the event on Sunday then they’ve forever earned my respect. But as I go through the turnstiles and the cops randomly go through my pockets, like they have the last two weeks I’ll wonder if anybody in the front office even gives a shit. Now that I’ve quit brining in banners because they make me unroll them and won’t let me bring in a knife to cut them down, do they care? Maybe I’ll quit wearing the Chicken hat and quit yelling things at the opponents trying to take a corner just to see if it matters to them. I bet if I don’t renew my season tickets or quit buying beer they’d notice that. Not because I’m important or anything, just because I’ll be one of the many who won’t renew if they don’t show the fans a little respect.
Oh, I’ll be back as long as there’s a team because I’m a sucker and I love this game. But I guess that makes me the stupid one. They can treat me like shit and they’ll still get my money. I’m the perfect fan.