Sons of Ben

First Sons of Ben open election approaching

The Sons of Ben will soon hold their first-ever open election for two positions on the groups governing board, which will bring the number of board members to 12. As Sons of Ben president Kenny Hanson told PSP in February, “Things are evolving and we’re trying to move into a different model.”

On Monday, PSP spoke to Hanson about the lead-up to the the November elections, and some of the organizational needs what the group’s board hopes to meet with the election.

“Our goal is to try to get people that have the ability to give their time and knowledge to be able to move [the Sons of Ben] forward,” Hanson said. “We hope the people that do get elected have the ability to enact change and help the organization be a better organization.”

Candidate for election to the board have been invited to submit bios — the deadline is Tuesday at midnight — and those bios are available for viewing on the Sons of Ben website (some recently submitted bios are not yet up on the site). In October, candidates will have the opportunity to present themselves to the group’s membership in an open meeting where they will answer questions from a moderator as well as from the membership. Hanson said the date of the meeting will be determined after he has consulted with the candidates to determine their availability, something which in itself is probably a good indicator of whether a candidate has the time necessary to commit toward being an effective board member .

“It’s something that absolutely has to happen,” Hanson said of the candidates’ open meeting with the membership. “If I put three dates out there and someone says, ‘I can’t make any of them,’ I may say the board might not be a good spot for you. The board is definitely time consuming and the one thing we need is help. As our membership grows, as we get more involved with local charities and parts of the community, we need more people to help out.

“Obviously, different individuals are going to have different time responsibilities,” Hanson explained. “The expectation is not that someone’s going to spend as much time as I do on a weekly basis, but that’s also not to say the person is going to come in and they get to vote on stuff and that’s what the board means.”

The invitation for candidates to submit bios emphasized, “One key element of the bio that will be focused on will be service.” And, as Hanson explained, what a candidate would be doing if elected “depends on their expertise.” But he also made clear that the board could use some expert help with two fundamental areas that are essential to the success of any organization.

As Hanson put it, “In a perfect world, we would have someone in PR and communications, and we would have a treasurer.”

The need for a treasurer is particularly strong because, at present, Hanson and SoB vice president Lorenzo Rivera are handling things like finances and taxes, which means they aren’t spending time on other areas that require their attention.

“An accountant, a CPA, a tax expert — anybody like that would be ideal,” Hanson said. “Right now, we don’t have anybody who has that background that has put their name forward. If we have someone like that, I would certainly encourage our members to vote for someone who had that background. All of our roles are replaceable. Finding someone who can manage your finances is very hard to replace.”

The key to a truly democratic election involves both competition between several candidates as well as engaged participation from the electorate.

“We want our membership to be able to have a say in who’s leading the organization, and who has the ability to vote for things in the organization,” Hanson said. “But at the same time, those individuals need to be able to have that time commitment and have that knowledge of the process.”

The emphasis on the time commitment necessary to be an effective board member makes sense; from the pregame tailgate, to tifo, organizing travel to away games, not to mention the organization’s many charitable efforts, all involve a  tremendous amount of work both in planning and execution. Such time demands can take a toll on people with already busy professional and personal lives.

“The truth of the matter is that there are only two people on the current board of ten that have been on the board for more than two years,” Hanson explained. “So, 80 percent of the board has been there two years or less. You hear from people that it needs to change or it needs to change over. Well, it’s changed over.”

The election of two new board members, both the process of the election itself and the members’ place on the board after the election, will only bolster the continuing evolution of the Sons of Ben.


  1. In addition to the administrative things, I’d like to see some changes to the game day atmosphere. Some of these have definitely been mentioned before.
    1) A commitment to new songs. Not songs taken from other teams that are just new to the Union. I mean actual new songs. There are thousands of people in the Sons of Ben. Somebody out there has to have a good idea. Have contests for new songs and chants. Offer prizes for the winners. MLS supporters all sing the same songs with the team names changed. Hell we don’t even do the zolo chant for corners and free kicks anymore. I just hear people chanting “every corner is a goal”, which is both dumb and demonstrably false. Let’s find a unique identity. Sing Streets of Philadelphia for all I care. At least it would be all ours.
    2) Speaking of unique songs, fix Four Leaf Clover or ditch it. Simple fix: speed up the first time through and use the drums. It sounds like a freaking dirge, people can’t keep in time, and it’s not fun. Seriously, people can’t keep time as a general rule. Remember that when coming up with songs.
    3) Get organized. There are some easy fixes in there. For example, repeat a chant 3 times if it’s long and 4-5 times if it’s really short…and then move on! When you repeat it 10 times, song dies as people stop singing. And don’t let there be down time as everyone debates the next song. Just have a list printed out or something. A harder fix would be to find a way to get cappos somewhere in the sections outside the direct center of the supporters section. The farther you get from center the less people are singing. And the ones who are singing aren’t in sync with the middle. Cappos would fix that, even if they have to be volunteers from the front row.
    4) Get more people more involved even if it’s only minimal. Every game a tifo gets pulled out, I hear lots of people asking what it is. Same goes for new songs. And that’s in the supporters section. That’s a problem. People need to know what’s happening so they feel ownership of the group and the team. Print flyers. Have people pass it along as you enter the section. Do something. It really feels like a lot of people are in the supporters section but have no idea what the Sons of Ben are up to.

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