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When apathy hits a supporter base

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The upcoming four-game home stretch will either give hope or allow the dreaded apathy set in.

John A. Babiak - @Photog_JohnB

In any sports organization, when emotions are still in play (whether it’s outright support or outright hate), you have hope because fans are still engaged. But when apathy sets in? That organization is in serious trouble.

And our Colorado Rapids are at serious risk for having an apathetic fanbase.

There was a reprieve two Saturdays ago when the Rapids' fast wingers exposed the slowness of the San Jose Earthquakes in a 3-0 shelling at DSGP. The 4-4-2, many thought, was what would turn the corner for the season. Many of us had hope that (1) Coach Pablo Mastroeni would finally adjust as needed to provide more offense, and (2) having two strikers upfront would provide at least more chances, and at most more goals.

In this double game week, a 3-0 destruction at the hands of the Chicago Schweinsteigers (aka the Chicago Fire) and a 2-1 loss to the surging Philadelphia Union put many of the hopes of Rapids fan on simmer. Granted, the Chicago Fire have speed and polish that the Rapids don't have yet. But the Union match? Calvert went from hero to goat (not GOAT, but goat) with two quick yellow cards. Blame the refs all you want, Rapids fans, but Calvert made a careless mistake by coming back onto the field before the ref allowed it.

Apathy comes from two portions in the Greek: 'a' meaning 'without,' and 'pathos,' meaning 'suffering' or 'feeling.' It's a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Apathy replaces hope when hope vacates the building. An an apathetic supporter group and fanbase is the last thing this club needs.

Riding Out the Philosophy Change

My favorite basketball player of all time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had this written of him early in his career: "No man is an island, but Kareem gave it a shot." In the same way, we've always heard, "A leopard doesn't change his spots," but Mastroeni seems willing to give it a shot this year.

Rapids fans need not be reminded that Mastroeni was a defensive stalwart. He brought that same defensive mindset to the Rapids. Now, to his credit, he realizes that an offensive shift is needed in order to compete. He made the shift and it will take time to get used to operating in this system.

The San Jose game at home gave the Rapids fans hope, setting aside the oncoming apathy for the moment. Now, the Rapids have four straight home games:

  • 5/27 against Sporting Kansas City (7 pm), who lead the West with 22 points (6-3-4).
  • 6/3 against the Columbus Crew (7 pm), who stand fifth in the East with 19 points (6-6-1).
  • 6/17 against the Portland Timbers (7:30 pm), fifth in the West with 18 points (5-4-3).
  • 6/21 against the LA Galaxy (7:00 pm), now seventh in the West with 14 points (4-5-2).

The Rapids can gain points from any one of these teams. Think about it: the Rapids beat San Jose 3-0, who then turned around and beat FC Dallas 1-0. Anything can happen on any given day. After all, those very same San Jose Earthquakes just beat Dallas today (in Frisco).

It must be said: if the Rapids emerge from this four-game home stretch with less than, say, 8-10 points or less (two wins, two draws or three wins, one draw)? Then hope leaves, apathy sets in, and the Rapids organization is seriously behind the eight ball with supporters.

How important do you think this four-game stand is for the Rapids?