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When Green Dissent is Preferred over a Burgundy Apathy

Diehard Rapids fans and possibly the Rapids Front Office may be offended and defensive over the protests and dissent from the fans. But, hey, that beats apathy, right?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
dis·sent
dəˈsent/
verb
  1. 1.
    hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed.

ap·a·thy
ˈapəTHē/
noun
  1. lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

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As a leader, one of the toughest parts is hearing and dealing with criticism.  As a leader, you can't avoid it as long as you're living and breathing.  If you try something, someone gripes.  If you don't try something, someone else gripes.  One of the most liberating concepts that I embraced was that, since someone will always take umbrage with what you're doing, then be liberated and do the best that you do with what you know, and obtain the proper wisdom from someone who may have travelled the path you're on.

In more than one instance, we've heard about how the Colorado Rapids Front Office has problem with dissent, which (as the definition above already notes) means to "hold or express opinions that are at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially expressed."  The fan forum showed what was officially expressed--and many disagreed. We have seen in the past at how the Front Office has reacted to public criticism, either dismissing said criticism or banning, cutting off, or even firing those who expressed the most innocuous of comments (see the issue with Chris Bianchi's dismissal).

So, now with this organized boycott (fueled by either well-guided or misguided focus and direction), we at least see conversations coming to a fine point about what all is happening with the decision makers and what makes them tick.  Surely we cannot know all that comes into play, but if any of the mumblings are true about the blocking or banning or shunning of dissenters regarding direction or play on the pitch, we have a serious issue.  For green dissent is far better than burgundy apathy.

Leaders must face facts that they will face dissenters.  But isn't dissent far better than apathy ("lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern")?  Isn't caring about the problems of a club one loves far better than not caring and moving on to something or someone else?

One of the most egregious attitudes a leader of any organization can have is one that ostracizes fans who are concerned and voice their opinion. For, again, what's the other option?  To have those fans not care at all.

In C.S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters, Uncle Screwtape (a demon) briefs his nephew Wormwood about what to do in tempting people.  He tells him that the objective is not to make people wicked, but indifferent.  He then says, "
'I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people. Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with people who do not care.'"

Whether you hold to any religious beliefs or not, which would you rather have, a spouse that raised her voice in dissent over your actions, or a spouse who didn't care enough to voice dissent in the first place?  Maybe I'm an odd duck, but I'll tell you where I am on the matter.  If your spouse didn't care, she wouldn't share his/her feelings on the matter.

However you believe the KSEOut boycott movement is well-guided or misguided, or even if you're enacting your own personal boycott (staying away from games, not re-upping on your season tickets, not buying merchandise, etc.), you are likely doing so because you care, because it hurts to see an organization you love struggle--but also to know that there's a chance (a chance) that the decision makers of said club won't hear any dissent.

Every piece of criticism, regardless of the source and regardless of how its delivered, has some nugget of truth found in it. If we bubble ourselves in and refuse to hear all criticism, then the only voices we'll hear are our own and those who agree with us.  But we see those issues in Washington now, don't we?  Republicans only listen to conservative speakers, Democrats only listen to the ones who tow the party line as well.  And what do you have?  A certifiable dumpster fire in Washington with no one listening to each other, shutting down what opponents are saying even before you hear them out.

Mike Myatt of Forbes magazine opened a helpful article with this paragraph--we'd all do well to heed what he's saying:

While some may be impressed with how well you speak, the right people will be impressed with how well you listen. Great leaders are great listeners, and therefore my message today is a simple one – talk less and listen more. The best leaders are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening. Take a moment and reflect back on any great leader who comes to mind…you’ll find they are very adept at reading between the lines. The best leaders possess the uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, or heard.
Rapids Front Office, please make it clear that you're willing to listen to all fans, dissenters and homers alike.  Otherwise, you will risk not having as many fans to listen to because apathy has set in.  As long as there's dissent during the lean times, there's hope because you have fans that care.