Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Power of Silence

The insult to the core fanbase of our club from management’s disrespect towards the Open Cup warrants strong measures.  We need to communicate to the front office how much the competition means to us.  The unified statement from the leadership of the three main supporters clubs was much needed and powerfully phrased.  However, the path of action in support of the ideas conveyed must be questioned.  Silence from supporters is a most drastic measure that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I’m sure it hasn’t been, but after having given it much thought, I’m choosing to break my silence on this issue and ask for reconsideration.  

In this context, protest is urgent and necessary but silence is errant.  That there will be a moment of silence before kickoff in consideration of the victims of yesterday’s violence in Oslo and Utøya ought to prompt reflection on the true value of silence at a major sporting event.  How can silence for the shame in Chicago dare compete, to follow, thoughts for the lives lost so horribly in Norway?
The intended audience for the show of supportus interruptus is a small number of people who can just as easily hear the message delivered loud and clear through unified chant and song from the South Ward.  Silence in the South Ward in the first half will merely undermine the performance of our first-team, so desperately in need of all the help they will need to survive the most hellish of conditions. 
I’m trying to imagine what it would be like if we score in the first interval and the “OUR HOME YOUR HELL” isn’t unfurled.  The heat will be felt by the players regardless of what levels of noise will be heard from the fans.  But silence from the most vocal of sides will insult players and, perhaps as a consequence, negate home field advantage.  And how will fans in the other four stands understand why?
Supporters should support and opt for silence only in the most extreme of situations, such as what New England fans have faced from Foxboro security.  Silence for a few moments to Support the Fort would be a show of solidarity that makes sense.  But a crucial half without the atmosphere in the South Ward might well prove most counterproductive. 
We should also ask ourselves how seriously we took the Open Cup local derby.  Would more attendees have sent a message of value more effectively than measures taken when what’s done is done? 
I’ve spoken with enough friends who think silence in the first half a bold but necessary measure that I was willing to abstain from more publicly voicing my disapproval.  But the pregame memorial silence renders the possibility of protest silence to follow silly and sophomoric. 
I’ll be in the North Bank and once the whistle blows at kickoff, I won’t be silent. 


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