Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Being A Supporter Is All About

What of the many things I love about the Timbers Army is their passion for the game of soccer in all forms, as they pay attention to league happenings throughout the world. While the Timbers are the main source of our football passion, many folks have other clubs that they follow closely from all parts, and there are many message threads in our forum with news, scores, and thoughts. I personally follow West Ham and Sunderland very closely when I'm not following Timbers news, out of loyalty to former Timbers that were Hammers and to some very dear friends who have opened up their home to myself, my wife and other Timbers fans visiting from across the pond who happen to support a club that is fun to watch.
The passion we share for our clubs is something that draws football fans together worldwide, as we are more than just fans that appear on match day in support of our club. I have many friends that don't support soccer and ask me about why I do what I do for the Timbers - what makes us different from the fans that just show up to watch a match. I've tried to explain what we are and how I feel about my club, but I don't think I could have done a better job than what a Colorado Rapids supporter did in the blog noted below:
The blog was started by Rapids management to interact with fans, and the main point of the first entry was to talk about the frustration of their current season. The Rapids had a playoff berth in their sights, but they went without a win in their last seven matches and they were caught by Real Salt Lake and New England in the final weekend of the season. The Rapids general manager, Jeff Plush, wrote a letter to the fans thanking them for their support, and promising changes because they had fallen short of the playoffs. What followed is a stream of comments from the fans, many angry at various aspects of the club. Whether their anger was directed at personnel decisions, ownership direction, investment in the club, or other factors, it was obvious that these group of people weren't happy with their season being cut short. And after what happened to the Timbers, I could relate to their feelings quite easily.
However, one post rang more true with me than any, and describes what it means to be a supporter better than anything than I could write:

Thank you for taking the time to write this letter, we appreciate this open form of communication with the fans and supporters.

Perhaps, everybody seems to have a reason why this season wasn't successful and solutions suggested are countless and free.

We also want to thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts, I can relate to you and you have the right to decide weather you continue to enjoy this beautiful sport.

I apologize in advance, I don't intend to lecture you, just want to share my point of view. 

Legion 5280 I believe is the smallest supporter group within the Front Range. However, we are known to be passionate about the Club. Supporting it is our life's essence.

I want to share my passion and make everyone understand what it is about. 

Fan Vs Supporter - What's The Difference? 
I'm not saying that one is better than the other, just that there is an important difference.
What is the difference between the two?
Well, it's in the words. A fan likes something, a supporter actively supports it. A regular fan wouldn't drive 8 hours to support the Colorado Rapids in the freezing temperatures of Salt Lake City.
What do Supporters do differently?
Passion. Dedication. Loyalty.
Take a club like Club America-Mexico City for example. They have by far the most fans in Mexico, but only a small group of true Supporters. The fans buy lots of merchandise and visit the home matches, and usually refer to the team, not the club. The fan idolizes players, but often knows little about the club's history. When a club doesn't do well, more and more seats will be empty, whereas the section of the Supporters is as full as ever.
The Mindset
A Supporter loves the club, not the team and its players. Those are mercenaries who do not identify with the club and will transfer as soon as more money is offered.
To a Supporter, it's all about the club, not the team.
A fan sees this as a hobby or casual entertainment. But Supporters take it seriously. No matter where or when the club plays, or how important the match is, the Supporter is there. A lot of times this means sacrificing other aspects of his/her life - work, school, family, and friends. That's because words like loyalty and honor still have meaning. A Supporter will defend the club's name if necessary, without getting it into trouble.
To the Supporter the club is a lifestyle.
The Supporter supports the team throughout the entire match, regardless of the score or the performance. Because the team needs the support the most when things are not going well. That is not to say that displeasure can't be voiced. But the support of the team always comes first.
Simply singing or shouting is not enough. Every word uttered and every song sung has to be filled with all of the Supporter's energy and passion. Even if the players on the field don't care, it is done for the club's honor and for the Supporter's entire honor.
Sing until your lungs burn and you are ready to puke.
Supporters look at everything the club does objectively and is not afraid to be critical. It is up them to protect the club's values and integrity and to carry them on with their actions.
Should a decision of the club clashes with the Supporter's believes, but benefits the club in the long run, the Supporter has to put his/her own interest aside.
Everything the Supporter does have to be in the club's best interest.
All of these traits are vital. I have known people who went to every Club America match, but didn't support. There were those who sang passionately, but only cherry-picked a few matches a year, exactly the same here in Denver with the Colorado Rapids.
Unfortunately there seems to be a pre-meditated disconnection going on against the Supporters here. The Colorado Rapids FO wants to replace us with customers who will shell out money without asking questions or criticizing.
Rest assured that Legion 5280 will continue its passion and loyalty to the Club, regardless…

David Fagoaga on behalf of Legion 5280

If you ever wanted to know what the difference is between a fan and a supporter is, read David's words. It describes the plight of many of us better than anything I've read in a while. Keep up the fight, Legion 5280.
Meanwhile, Brian Libby weighs in on changes to the MC for JumpTown, and his thoughts as an architecture fan. While I've disagreed with him on many points, his main tenants that the Timbers and Beavers need good homes for themselves makes sense, and in my mind, the MC always made the most sense for baseball. While the overall concept of revamping the MC intrigues me, my frustration at baseball not having a home which in turn might affect the MLS/Timbers initiative clouds whatever benefit I might see in this whole Jumptown initiative. I hope I'm wrong and this all gets resolved, but until then, I'm remaining skeptical until I see the bottom line and full costs.


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