Friday, September 10, 2010 |
Being a Philadelphia Union season ticket holder, I received an email from team President Tom Veit this evening. Most of it, clearing up some issues which had arisen regarding security and flow of foot traffic, was warmly received. I welcome that sort of communication between the brass and the fanbase. It shows they're aware of the problems that exist and are working to remedy them.
Near the end, however, he touches on what has become a flashpoint: the use of profanity in chants and songs, playing the well-worn "family friendly" card. While boosting our egos, he tells us that swearing is a no-no, because "inappropriate language echoes throughout the stadium, and more importantly, across the television waves."
You don't want to hear "You Suck, Asshole" on television? Why don't you have the networks remove the microphones placed in front of our section? We're not singing for ESPN's benefit. We sing for ourselves and the 11 guys out there in blue and gold. Let the people at home listen to Kyle Martino's insights.
It's not like the Union has marketed itself as a family-friendly organization. From the time the team was merely an empty lot and a website, multiple members of the front office have gone on record with their delight at the Sons of Ben being rowdy, loud, and intimidating.
And it's worked. Every other team that has come here has praised the atmosphere, and the Philly players love it (Don't believe me? Look at our away record). And yet somehow we're too effective.
Our reputation didn't keep the front office from parading the Sons of Ben around like show ponies at every opportunity, did it? The pre-season ad campaigns featured not Danny Mwanga or Sebastien Le Toux, but the Sons of Ben. It's okay for us to buy our tickets and help them sell even more, and to pay 20 bucks for parking and eight bucks for a beer, but heaven forbid we say "asshole?" We can get shown off at events like the SuperDraft and on TV and on the side of the stadium, but he gets to pick and choose what aspects of supporter culture he likes?
The league has seen what family friendly gets. It gets you half empty stadiums and the spot on the evening news after high school sports. In good years, you'll fill that stadium up with the kids and parents and casual fans. In the lean ones, you'll thank the soccer gods your season ticket people have the Sons of Ben. Half the other teams in the league would kill for the intensity of the River End. Veit is trying to neuter it.
He says the Union isn't trying to censor Philadelphia fans. Yet he offers just one solution to the problem: "Stop it, because I said so."