The soccer stories are all about stadium incidents, and the ones that aren't are tedious retrospectives on Beckham's first year in America. There must be some missing blonde out there somewhere, can't the media go chase one and stop bumming me out?
Still, this reaction, from a board that I can't entirely recall whether or not is verboten around these parts, had the best possible graphic:
(To give credit where credit is due, the picture did NOT come from a garlic sack, if you catch my drift.)
Bill of course had what I'm pretty sure is the definitive take on the Columbus situation. I'm sure there is a way to tell the story that isn't, like, 100% truthfully in favor of the Crew supporters here, but Dobbs Almighty. Global search and replace "Yankees" and "Red Sox" or "Ohio State" and "Michigan" or hell, even your local high school football rivalry, and picture a group of 30 visiting fans frolicking towards the home team's fans.
In fact, forget the rivalry factor. If 100 or so Seattle Freaking Mariners fans hopped up on goofballs decided to pull a stunt like that in an interleague game against the Brewers, what do you suppose the reaction would be? Congratulations, you've just put more thought into this than most of, and I cringe at using this expression, the "mainstream media." The Associated Press article, which I am both too proud and too lazy to link to, was completely atrocious:
Yeah, I'm gonna take Bill's word for it that the West Ham fans weren't in the northeast corner because that's where the best view was. Why, I would go so far as to imagine that if we're going to be dense enough to assume that hostile chants lead to and/or justify violence, that it's conceivable that the same fans who went to the Crew supporters section might not have done so in complete silence.
Although, and maybe I'm in full-on Elvis Costello "I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused" mode here, but I got a smirk out of this:
Thanks, for a minute I thought Dube was a red-headed Norwegian.
And that might not have been the biggest stadium security breakdown of the week, let alone the year. There's something about a stadium security guy flipping off a camera that doesn't instill confidence. And while our pals in the Empire Supporters Club are given to jolly antics and high-spirited skylarking which can be misconstrued by passersby, it seems like their accounts of NJSEA overreaction should be taken a lot more seriously than, well, the usual drunk fan angry at being tossed from the stadium. Unless there's a lot more to the crowdsurfing story than has been let on. Perhaps the NJSEA were mortally offended that the ESC hung their banners upside-down.
Now, I wasn't there, and I don't have all the facts. Maybe the ESC had defied UN Security Council resolutions, and had restarted their uranium enrichment program. But this seems to be as bad as my previous worst experience with stadium security, when San Jose police went into the midfield sections swinging truncheons because visiting fans wouldn't sit down. But at least the SJPD only hit the home team's fans by accident.
So, in the words of Neil Lennon, what is to be done?
1. Better-trained security answerable to the team's front office, not to an outside agency. This is expensive, especially in games where security pretty much needs to have a badge and a gun to make an impression.
2. Supporters must make a financial impact with the front office. A bloc of fans all buying tickets in advance gets noticed much more quickly and politely than people who buy day-to-day. At the other extreme, a big empty section also gets noticed. Whichever is right for your group depends on the situation, of course.
3. This doesn't seem to be operative for any event that happened over the weekend, but - police your own. When Legion 1908 leaves en masse for games at a time because one guy is told to please not commit crimes? The opposite of that, basically. You know I love you, and you're among friends here, but your credibility as an American hardcore soccer supporter in the eyes of Authority...even Authority who actually run American soccer teams...starts off at zero. A lot of times, it stays there.
I bring up the Beckham retrospectives because what happened in New Jersey and Columbus can be traced back to the sudden increase in popularity that he's brought. These are growing pains, just like we learned in the 90's that the American soccer fanbase had grown to a size where it wasn't such a wonderful idea to schedule games against Mexico in the Los Angeles Coliseum.