The basic rundown is outlined pretty well on RSL Soapbox — supporter groups are being told (under the guise of being asked) to shape up or ship out by the RSL management and the MLS. If they don’t, various sanctions will be imposed that will make things for the supporters groups, well, suck. The letter has been uploaded to Google here but the RSL blog has most of the text verbatim here.
You know what doesn’t matter? Shouting “You suck asshole” at the opposing goalkeeper in an effort to psyche them out during a goal kick. The only reason a significant portion of the stadium does it is because it’s universal (we’re not the only ones who do this chant, you know), and it’s easy (it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s being said). For the record, I’ve never done the “You suck asshole” nor have I even just done “You suck” but that doesn’t matter either, because everyone (whether they are in a supporters group or not) needs to cut it out — partially because we were asked to and partially because if we don’t, our SGs lives will…suck (no drums, no flags, no smoke — basically all those things that make soccer games so interesting to watch both in person and on television).
It seems ironic to me that some of the sanctions being proposed include things that make the game more interesting to watch on TV, the things that separate soccer from other American sports. But I digress. This isn’t about the YSA thing or why we should stop doing it. Because the reason — or reasons — are simple: it’s stupid, it’s offensive, I don’t want to be responsible for, say, Salt City United to not be able to bring their Wreck Everything flag, and because, frankly, it’s untrue.
Dan Kennedy is arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the league. He just happens to play for one of the worst teams in the league. On any given team, you have one guy sitting in the goal. Compare that to 2-3 forwards, 3-4 defenders and anywhere between 3-5 midfielders. There’s a lot of other positions to go around, but — like the Highlander — there can be only one goalkeeper. This means that to play at goal in professional soccer, you need to be pretty freaking good. And I came to this realization watching some of the reserves matches against USL-Pro teams and the US Open Cup matches against USL-Pro and NASL teams. Those keepers…they’re pretty damn good. So saying “you suck” to a goalkeeper? It’s stupid. I have tons of respect for GKs, even those on teams I dislike.
You know what really sucks? The refereeing in last night’s game.
Which is why the crowd — who, let’s be honest, did a damn good job of refraining from the YSA chants — switched to “Ref, you suck”. Now, the problem here is that any incarnation of a “you suck” chant is fair game according to the letter sent to the supporter groups, even if it wasn’t on the note (pictured above) that was left on the seats. In fact, the MLS is saying that any chant that features vulgarity needs to be put to a stop (and there are some Salt City United and Rogue Cavaliers chants that are pretty racy). So, two steps forward and two steps back, as far as that goes, I guess. I’m not sure where the RSL front office and the MLS will see last night’s game in terms of the lack of “you suck” chants. But the fact is the refereeing did suck (even Kries referenced “strange” calls), and you can’t control everything. Chanting “a rope/a tree/let’s hang the referee” — while it would be allowed — isn’t any better in terms of what it’s saying than “you suck”, but according to what we’ve been told, that would be acceptable since it doesn’t include any curse words.
Thanks for that.
RSL President Bill Manning was on the radio talking about YSA yesterday and, to my mind, was pretty condescending about the whole thing. “We have a pretty big counterculture here,” he said, as if this explains anything. But he also said that we can come up with something better. And we can. And I’ll be there screaming “Goooooooooo REAL SALT LAKE” for goal kicks from here on out — that’s one I can get behind. But you can’t just say “don’t do anything offensive” at a sporting event and expect 20,000 to bow down and say “okay”. My only hope is that if we do make a concerted effort to eliminate YSA, that the league doesn’t still come back and say “well, you didn’t get rid of everything, so we’re going to do what we did in New England and start arresting people and sending them out of the game.” Because I’m sure that would go over well with the black-clad folks on the other end of the pitch.