So now a movement is afoot regarding boycotts. Discussion pages, Twitter, and general fan chatter is overwhelmingly dismayed not simply by the performance of the club, but accelerated by the comments from the hour-long fan forum last Thursday during lunch. For some, the fan forum laid to rest concerns about how the club was moving forward, but for the most part, the general takeaway from this attempt to reach out an answer questions was met with confusion, anger, or just a simple throwing the hands up in the air.
I attempt to remain positive about the direction of the club. I always try to find the silver linings in the team's play. But, count me in the ones who, though not ready for an all-out boycott, are sympathetic to the ones who believe that it's actually come to this.
One such boycott is calling for the wearing of green as a protest is found at KSEOut.com, which simply asks, "Please wear green if you believe that, for the sake of the Colorado Rapids, KSE needs to sell the team." Their Twitter feed currently has 66 followers. In their About page, they claim that the STH Fan Forum was the last straw. Rather than merely calling for Pablo Mastroeni's ouster, they wish for a top-down house-cleaning.
What is a boycott?
I always believe that clarifying terms helps a great deal. One key definition is this: "a punitive ban that forbids relations with certain groups, cooperation with a policy, or the handling of goods." The word actually comes from a name-- C.C. Boycott, (1832–97), an English land agent in Ireland, so treated in 1880, in an attempt instigated by the Irish to get rents reduced. (Thank you, Google!) But to the definition, what I'm seeing here with KSEOut.com and others is an issue with policy. Something as innocuous as supporting the players but wearing green to refusing to buy Rapids merchandise to refusing to buy season tickets to staying away from games.
If I may editorialize: as far as boycotts go, I like the balance that this boycott provides--supporting the players, but wearing the colors to coerce change. But the fact is, more and more people have already personally boycotted the team for these very reasons. Now, some feel the need to organize and mobilize. One of my friends who is as strong a Rapids fan as exists really struggled as to whether to buy season tickets or not. Now, did the fan forum start it? No.
But it seems that the fan forum escalated the angst and ended the support. When Leadership 101 tells us that the first step of leadership is to identify reality, the fan forum for many fans spoke that the reality on the field is not the reality processed by those in leadership.
Even the novice can see that the brand of football on the pitch is not "attractive football," yet this is what we heard repeatedly. Even the novice can see that Dillon Powers is not being treated by his minutes as the face of the franchise. Even the novice can see that the spark isn't there, especially against San Jose--two teams duking it out for the cellar dwellers in the West. What happened? They wanted it badly--we didn't! You don't need to understand tactics to see this.
So do I think a boycott will work? The boycott will depend on a number of things:
- Will the leadership of the Rapids grow defensive and hunker down, cutting themselves off from any dissent from fans--or will they begin to see that the fans love the Rapids and communicate that this is indeed a Burgundy family that wants reasons to cheer? If the leadership grows defensive (which is the temptation of all leaders to take things like this personally), then this rift will grow bigger and bigger. Then who knows what the next step will be!
- Will the ones boycotting remain civil? Again, wear green and keep it clean! Being antagonistic, personal, and cruel will not change anything, and paint all Rapid fans with the same brush. No thanks! We do not want to divide the fan base between the Greens and the Burgundies. We shouldn't run down each other. We're after the same thing--a winning, stable culture that matters on and off the field.
- Will the players truly see this as still supporting them? The last thing the players need right now is to believe that the fans have turned on them! And if the players truly love Pablo and are behind him, then they may play better or, hopefully not, grow resentful to the fans and then want to leave. Boycotts must clearly show that the players wearing burgundy are appreciated!