Fans' View

Fan’s View: Through different eyes

Photo: Daniel Studio

This kicks off my fifth season of writing Fan’s View posts. Over the years, PSP has entertained me, informed and educated me, and many times proven to be cathartic. I’m continually grateful to still have this opportunity to share my thoughts and interact with everyone who reads and participates in this great site. It also marks my ninth season as a season ticket holder, across a handful of different locations over the years, to escape the sun, adjust my number of seats, and/or to save a couple of bucks.

My experience and viewpoints regarding the Union, and probably my writing too, have shifted over time due to a mix of significant changes in my personal life and a visceral reaction to the tribulations of investing so much time, energy, and money into a team that seems to be stuck in neutral.

Shifting Perspective

NOTE: a quick warning that this sub-section will have little to do with soccer, so please skip ahead to the next section if you’d like.

My life has shifted quite a bit in recent years, to the point where my contributor bio is woefully outdated! (I’ll edit that soon; I think). I just got married this past Saturday, on a perfect Spring day, to an amazing and beautiful woman, in a really special place. My son and daughter featured very prominently in our day – one I really wish I could go back and enjoy for even just a few more hours. This past weekend capped off a growth-filled, transformational time for me, and I really do see many things differently as a result. These happier times followed several years of really challenging and anxious ones, and I’ve done a lot of reflecting on that journey. Tough times truly do have a way of forcing you to change and get to work on building a better version of yourself.

You learn it’s okay to prioritize yourself more, which for me meant getting outside more and getting some exercise (still not enough of course), playing men’s league soccer again, getting back into coaching kids again (mostly basketball now), and recognizing it’s okay to speak up for what I want or need more often. It’s opening yourself up to new experiences. You learn to focus on what’s truly important. Most importantly, it’s allowing yourself to open up to other people and really connect in a way that’s genuine and real.

What’s my point? And what does any of this have to do with the Union or soccer? Mainly that points of view change, and the environment around us changes. That seeing things through a different lens can be incredibly refreshing. That changes in our environment, changes in attitude, and changes in our interactions with others can reframe how we see things. I recently experienced this in an amazing way at what was otherwise a pretty dreadful Union loss.

Seeing the Game Differently

I have three tickets to all Union homes games, and my son had the opportunity to bring one of his best friends to the Orlando City game about 10 days ago. It was fairly last minute, but his buddy was good to go, and we managed to get there in time to play a few games of cornhole and have a brief tailgate. The game itself was unbelievable frustrating – the Union came out looking lively the first 10 minutes, but never really threatening for the better part of 90 minutes. To a nine-year season ticket holder, with an increasing number of scheduling conflicts and a steadily increasing case of Union-induced apathy, the experience was numbing. I love this team and really enjoy sharing the game day experience with my son, but how much more can we all handle?

The amazing part of this particular game day experience was a gift from my son’s friend, and one which he had no idea he had even given. It turns out it was his very first Union game. He was amazed and in awe of so many aspects of the day! The stadium, the view from our seats, the speed, strength, and skill of the players on the field. I’m sure the ice cream helped too.

There was more than one occasion where he turned to my son and me and, with a big smile on his face, exclaimed “I’ve got goosebumps!” This transformed the entire experience for us. Misery and apathy was replaced with all of the things a 9-year old would enjoy at a first game. The sheer joy and wonderment he exuded brought this battered and beaten down Union fan right back to 2010, when we couldn’t believe we had a professional soccer team in our backyard, and the possibilities were endless.

We loaded up on pizza, barbecue, and ice cream. We hit the Union store to help him pick out a t-shirt, he got a picture with Keegan Rosenberry (his favorite Union player), and we made sure he left with a certificate commemorating his first game.

I find myself in this odd spot now when it comes to the Union. I support them, and expect that I always will. Yet I do feel like I’ve emotionally distanced myself from them, as some sort of sports fan defense mechanism to manage the suffering. I’m nostalgic, and hate the idea of giving it up altogether, but missing a game doesn’t hurt as much as it once did, and selling my tickets off for a small fraction of the price is something I’ve come to accept. Seeing and experiencing the sheer joy of my son’s friend attending his first game doesn’t magically make everything better, but man did it feel good for one game, to view things so differently.

18 Comments

  1. Thank you, Scott, and congratulations.

    I’m bringing my son to his first game on Saturday and hoping for the same kind of thing. As much as I hope he loves the experience, I hope I love the experience again because of him.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Let’s hope the result turns out better this Saturday. And don’t forget to get your son his certificate!

    • Thanks Chris! I hope your son loves it, and it’s a great experience for both of you. My son’s friend helped make this the most enjoyable game I’ve been to in a while, and gave me something positive to write about!

  2. Barb Ellis says:

    Wonderful article Scott. Proud of you and glad you are so happy these days. Go Union and FC Brandywine!

  3. Zizouisgod says:

    Nice post, Scott and congratulations to you on all of the positive things in your life. It’s great to have perspective.

    Did any part of you feel guilty about your son’s friend becoming a Union fan knowing what’s down the road for him in supporting this club? 😉

    • Thanks Zizou! I did feel a little bad about bringing him deeper into the fold, yes. But misery loves company, and good parenting is helping your kids understand the long time suffering associated with being a Philadelphia fan!

  4. Nice read. Congratulations, Scott. And yes, sometimes we do need to be sort of slapped across the face to wake up to how nice we’ve got it. I really enjoy coming to PSP each day to be informed and commiserate with my fellow Philly footy fans. That really only happens because of the Union. Yes I read non-Union items, but I come here for the Union talk, and I really enjoy it, all of it. Even the whining and complaining — maybe especially the whining and complaining, because it is justified. If I think about a world where this floundering, incompetent, maybe even apathetic franchise doesn’t exist…well, I go back to a part of life where pro-level soccer only exists on TV/Internet. So…I guess I have to still be grateful for the fact that at least we have an MLS team.

  5. Nice read, Scott. It’s easy to forget who truly wonderful it can be for a kid just to attend a real professional soccer match. I couldn’t have done the same when I was a kid. It’s great to see that magic close up. And congrats on all your recent upturns in fortune. May it continue.

  6. Ice cream makes everything better. It’s a universal law of nature.
    .
    Great piece, Scott. My daughter was 9 when we got season tickets back in 2010, and if I squint a bit I can still see those magical moments.
    .
    Congrats on the wedding, and best wishes to you and your wife for a very long, happy future.

    • John, I agree on ice cream, and the same could probably be said for a good beer before or during a game.

      My 9 year old son has attended practically every game I’ve been to since 2010, so I think he’s been beaten down too! I may need to keep bringing some of his friends along to keep the magic going.

  7. Thanks RobbyO! I’d never abandon ship altogether either, but have adjusted how much time and money I invest to a degree. This particular experience was great in opening up my eyes to some things I had taken for granted though.

  8. Amen! As my children have aged it’s become less of a family night spent together and more of a “who is going with mom”. It makes me sad.

  9. I hate what the Union have become – the butt of jokes within the fanbase itself, a shell of a franchise, an underperforming team – but I have a son due in July, and one day I hope to share the same experience you had with my son. That being said, I remind myself during the national anthem at every game that, for those 2 hours, there is really nowhere else I would rather be, because nothing else matters during that game, and no matter how much the team disappoints me I work hard all week to afford those tickets and am grateful for the opportunity. It’s all perspective, and I compartmentalize my weekly disdain for the management of the team with the hope that THAT game will be the one that breaks open the flood gates.

  10. Despite the fact that this team has brought me far more pain than enjoyment, I was honestly willing just to embrace the Union being “my club” and getting a second season ticket so I could bring my son to every game (he’s finally old enough now to make it through the late games). If the team sucks but it’s OUR team, that’s fine.
    .
    Then came the Crew news. I know everyone thinks that the Union are “too big to fail”, but if they want me to commit to them despite the product being utter and complete trash, they need to commit to us. The League (since apparently they aren’t individual teams) needs to commit to every community that these are OUR teams and they aren’t going anywhere no matter what.
    .
    If they can’t commit and start relocating teams, this is my last season having season tickets. I’m sure I’ll go to an occasional game if tickets are cheap or the weather is really nice, but I’ll save my money and watch European soccer on TV. They won’t be able to “reDupe” me again.

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