June 14, 2007

To Be a Fan or To Be a Fanboy

...that is the question.

Can a fan not criticize their team?

Can a fan not point out reasonable flaws in their team?

Can a fan have a difference of opinion with fellow fans?

I'm starting to wonder, based off the reactions from some "anonymous" fans around here. Look, the essential part of being a fan is to care about the team. The Cupcake-makers sure don't waste our time writing about things that we don't care about. I can't speak for others, but I've been disappointed with the product that's been put on the field at the RE/MAX this season. With the roster that's been put in place, I feel results should be better. I felt the same way last season after the team failed to make the playoffs.

The common response is, "You're not there everyday, you don't know what is going on with injuries, etc." That's right, I'm not at training everyday. However, if that type of information is not being released, it's not my fault that I don't know. If I was the coach, I'd be the first one in the Director of Media Relations' office, demanding that the press release go out to get the heat off of me. Trust me, I've been there before, I know how that goes. But please, go ahead, tell me I don't know what I'm talking about because I haven't "done anything" in soccer. Anyone who knows my résumé would disagree.

If you become a professional coach, you have to be prepared for criticism. That goes along with the job. Hell, if you become a youth coach, you're going to get criticized. There's always someone who would do things differently, for better or for worse. These criticisms are not personal attacks, they are criticisms of the job being done and the product that is being put on the field. I'm sure that there's plenty of coaches who failed that would be great to share a beer with and watch a game. That doesn't mean that because they're a great guy that they should be on the sidelines running the team, does it? It's not a popularity contest, it's a professional sports league and games have to be won.

Just because the traditional media in Atlanta doesn't care enough to report on the team doesn't make you immune. Get Estadio or Contraataque translated for you sometime. The Hispanic press here in Atlanta are not big fans of the current staff, that's for sure. I'm sure they don't know what they're talking about though, right?

Let's look at the results. Through 58 games in the current coaching tenure in Atlanta, the overall record is 21-29-8 (W-L-D) and there have been zero playoff appearances.

Please explain to me any possible way that can be considered a success. Please explain to me how a record like that does not open yourself up to criticism. Please explain how fans can't get frustrated when you win three of your last fourteen games last season and fall out of what looked like a sure playoff spot. Please defend losses of scores like 7-1 and 6-1 on the road and a 5-1 Open Cup loss at home to a PDL team, are these results not bad enough to upset fans?

It's okay to expect good things to come from your team. It's also okay to be disappointed when the results aren't up to snuff. It's okay to cheer, beat on the drums, and chant to support the team. It's also okay to show your disappointment when someone isn't putting forth the effort or quality the job requires. You don't work for the team, they don't pay you (you pay them, remember?), you don't have to state the "company line" and say everything's okay when it obviously isn't.

It's not a compliment to be called a fanboy. Unfortunately, that's what some of America's soccer fans turn into at times. The defensiveness that is so evident in some soccer people in the US is something that is a huge issue with the non-soccer fans. It's great ammunition for the Jim Rome's of the world.

Look, I want a successful team here in Atlanta. I want to enjoy going to the stadium to watch the local team. I want to be entertained. I'd say that's a fair trade for my time and money. The 36% winning percentage and 1.22 points per game over 58 games isn't really what I'm looking for. I think the empty seats show I'm not alone. It's been generally agreed that this is the most talented roster for an Atlanta professional soccer team since 1995 (A-League runner-up). Is a 4-4-3 record a good return on that investment? You tell me...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an anonymous fanboy (Actually, I'm D from the DCenters, but let's just go with Anonymous for the moment) and I think it's wrong for you to ever criticize anything ever. Being a supporter means being the equivalent of a jock strap, willing to take whatever balls are thrust upon us without a word of dissent. People who complain about things are evil and should be shot. In fact, if you support something, there is no excuse for ever writing anything critical about it at all. I mean, if one could just criticize freely, how would the Internet remain such a friendly, welcoming, civilized place.