Fans' View

Fan’s View: I’m taking a break

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Is it just me, or has everyone felt a growing sense of apathy towards the Union? After the excitement and optimism of the season’s start, I think we’ve collectively been going through a Kubler-Ross progression of coming to terms with the team we have.

At first there was anger. “How could we lose to Impact!?” “You traded WHO?!”

Then came the bargaining. “If we could just fire Hack, move Amobi to midfield, buy a centerback, drop the 4-3-3, sign a striker and pave the parking lot…I’m sure we could make the playoffs.”

Recently, it’s been mostly depression. After a glimmer of redemption at Sporting Kansas City, our hopes were dragged through mud by New England and LA. “What’s the point?” “It doesn’t matter what we do, we’re going to lose.” And of course…”We [stink] so much.”

Now with the firing of Coach John Hackworth, I feel like we’ve officially given up on this season altogether. It’s almost too much for a fan to take.

Did you know that most Premier League clubs have a very high turnover rate for season ticket holders? On average, as much as a third of their membership doesn’t return the following year? I was surprised to read those numbers, given the myth that in England season tickets only become available when someone bequeaths them after death. I’m not sure what the numbers look like in MLS, but I imagine they are similar. How could this happen to such a large number of fans that seem so rabid for their team each week? Some move. Some forgo the tickets for financial reasons. But a significant portion of them just stop caring that much about their team.

As a faithful Union supporter, I’ve always envisioned that I would be a season ticket holder for life, but lately I’ve had some doubt creep in. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I haven’t visited PSP as religiously as I usually do. I haven’t re-watched a full or even condensed game. I’m not rushing home from being out to find the Union on my DVR. I wasn’t totally distraught when recent travel plans made me miss two home games. My blue and gold basement repaint is on hold.

My apathy is becoming palpable. Could this be happening to me too?

Saturday’s game against the Whitecaps was everything I could hope for from a soccer game. Beautiful weather for tailgating, good company, quality on the pitch, a come from behind lead for the home team and six goals to boot. Yet, I didn’t quite seem to take as much joy from it as I would have in the past.

There was definitely some disappointment in not seeing the “walk-off” 4th goal I was expecting, but the most disappointing realization as I drove away from the stadium was that I wasn’t that affected by the game. I should have been over the moon for the pure entertainment value. I have always said I’d rather see us draw 3-3 with exciting, attacking soccer than win 1-0 with ugly, negative tactics. After all, what am I paying my money for? I’m not taking any silverware home to my house. I’m paying to be entertained with the game I love most.

So there it was on Saturday. Probably one of the most entertaining matches I’ve ever seen, and yet I came into it apathetic and emotionally spent after a season full of disappointment. I almost didn’t even take notice of just how awesome the game was because I was so wrapped up in trying to analyze our tactics and substitutions. What the heck am I doing? I finally realized I’m losing sight of why I became a fan of the Union…because I love this game.

This is probably just what I need. A good slap in the face to remember this is just entertainment. I need to enjoy it on that level.

Now, I think I’ve entered that final Kubler-Ross stage of letting go of my preseason optimism–acceptance. I’ve come to terms with what we are; a team with above-average talent that just isn’t getting the results it deserves. I’ll try not to get too caught up in the drama of Hackworth’s exit. I’ll try to let go of my expectations of making the playoffs. I’m done holding my breath. Maybe now I can calmly sit back, enjoy the soccer and be resigned to accept whatever results come.

Thankfully, the World Cup is surreptitiously arriving to recharge my batteries and reignite the footy flame in my heart. Meanwhile the Union head into a much needed break…for them and me.

25 Comments

  1. I’m having the same doubts about season tickets. It used to be so fun, but the feeling that nothing will ever change hangs over everything.

  2. Once the person sees the Matrix, there is no going back. You know how you want the game to be played. You thought you saw the truth with this team but the truth turned out to be a fallacy and now you want out of the Matrix. All understandable. Football is life. Should of taken the Blue Pill, Scott.
    .
    and now we wait for rebirth….

  3. hobosocks says:

    I’m nowhere near there yet. I waited a long time for a professional soccer team in Philly, and it’ll take a lot more than a few bad seasons to lose my support. Being at a less than ideal Union game is still world’s better than not having a Union game to be at at all.

    Not that I’m begrudging anyone else their own feelings, just stating mine.

  4. C’mon everyone, pick up your chins! Firing Hackworth is like being re-born, we start with a new coach and familiar players. We ARE the Phoenix! Besides, the season is only half over and the east stinks. Hell, DC won something last year and they sucked! …Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?! It ain’t over until we say it’s over! Who’s with me?

    • Germans?

    • Dick Buttlewein says:

      I’m on board! Big second half of the season. The Boys(Curtain, Sorber, and Albright) will breathe some life into our squad. Dead cat bounce? No, we are now headed in the right direction. Nowak was perfect as inaugural coach because we were instantly respectable. Then after Nowak burned every bridge Hack brought it all back together and then fortified the roster last offseason. NOW we need a coach who can can put it all together. From 30,000 feet looking down we are not in that bad of shape as long as we select our next coach wisely!

    • I hope that you are right with this attitude. I get this sinking feeling that the more apt quote from Animal House is, “Hey, you [fouled] up. You trusted me.”
      I want to believe that things will improve, and will likely follow the Union through year after year, but it is for love of the game, and not because they have done anything to deserve it.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Yeah I’m happy for the break as I think it has been a bit of overload with the ups and (mostly) downs this season. But I am a lifer. This stuff happens. I’m not going to abandon the team after 5 years. No way… no how.
    .
    Also Nogueira as Neo was a great call. Haha! +1

  6. Southside Johnny says:

    Scott, I share your feelings and I believe there are many like us for a variety of reasons.

  7. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that I will ditch my fandom. Just realizing that I need to make sure I’m enjoying it and not getting too wrapped up in the negative. I still hope that I will bequeath my season tickets to my grandkids one day when I kick the bucket.

    • I didn’t mean to imply that the article suggested giving up fandom; I was just answering the question you opened with from my perspective.

  8. Wilkerson McLaser says:

    Mark my words, nothing really changes until Sak leaves too.

  9. Amazing that you put into words my exact thoughts down to every detail. Well said.

  10. james lockerbie says:

    Sak won’t leave unless bought out. He actually owns a part of the team.

  11. Shame on the Scott Pugh for even writing this article. A true fan should never even speak these words aloud, let alone write them.

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