Hope and Change

There's an old saying that describes trial juries as consisting of 12 people who weren't smart enough to figure out how to avoid jury duty.

With that in mind, welcome to today's column from Mr. Stupid.

In todays' highly charged and politicized American society most people would prefer to be called a seal-clubbing, wife beating, necrophiliac pedophile serial murderer than to have someone call you a "racist".

Thus, after the clash between the Boston Breakers and Atlanta Beat - won, as you surely know, by the Breakers 2-0 on the strength of Boston striker Kelly Smiths' 8th and 9th goals on the campaign (the first one coming a mere 52 seconds into the match) - when the Beats' Hope Solo, Worlds' Greatest Female Goalkeeper© claimed that she had been the target of abuse tinged with "racism" flung by patrons in the Breakers' supporters' section - called The Dock - it caused something of a kerfuffle.

Which Solo, no stranger to controversy, must surely have intended and expected, given that she didn't just arrive in this country from ten years on Pluto.

Twittering (Tweeting? Twitting? I'm never really sure) at @HopeSolo she rambled on about how (cue Mr. T voice) science has proven that when there's on-field contact taller players always get called for the fouls, fool (close Mr. T) - it would be churlish to note here that Ms. Solo, at 5'9" is a good bit taller than the average WPS player, so I'll just note it in passing - she then went on to toss out her own version of the Mohawk Grenade, to wit:

"To all the Boston fans and especially the young kids that I didn't sign autographs for I'm sorry. I will not stand for an organization who can so blatantly disrespect the athletes that come to play. Perhaps the WPS or Boston themselves can finally take a stance to the profanity, racism and crude remarks that are made by their so called 'fan club.'

"To the true fans, I hope to catch you at the next game. Thanks for your support and love for the game."

Now for those of you with a somewhat parochial view of WPS and thus a hard time envisioning a slobbering, unhinged supporters section resembling the drunks at, say, a Spurs match, hurling unspeakable abuse at an Arsenal keeper, let me assure you that you're not alone.

For the record, said supporters' group known as The Riptide immediately responded via THIER WEBSITE:

First, and most importantly, no one on the Dock said anything remotely racist. There was also little in the way of profanity or crude remarks - the worst thing I heard was "you suck", which is fairly mild fare for a soccer match. We firmly believe that all of our chants and songs were nothing but good-natured heckling, which most opponents have no problem putting up with (including Ms. Solo, when her team wins). We have great respect for Hope Solo as an athlete and are among her biggest fans when she's playing for the U.S., but when she is the opponent, we are going to treat her like we do all other opponents.

It's fine if Hope Solo doesn't like us. It's fine if she lets us get into her head and upset her during games. It's not fine that she accused us of racism, and we won't stand for it. We ask that she either explain her remarks or retract them.

For a fan response, you can't do better than notd BigSoccer maven REVS FAN 1, who POSTED THIS STINGING, UNEQUIVOCAL REPLY:

Nothing out of order was said....Hope is a crazy person plain and simple....Maybe she wants to hear only the voices of 10 year old girls that scream for Mia when the Freedom aren't even in town?....


After interviewing fans, players, security personnel and team employees, it seems clear that a few individual fans shouted comments towards the field that crossed the line from traditional heckling to abusive language that is neither respectful of the players, nor appropriate for the family friendly entertainment environment that the Breakers pride themselves on.

It goes on to say that - are you sitting down? - they're going to be sending out more mouthbreathing $7.25 an hour stadium security rent-a-douchebags to help supervise the evil ponytailed thugs down in The Dock, a response which, of course, rings a distinct bell with pretty much every MLS supporters' group, but maybe they'll have better luck this time.

Of course, if Breakers security is handled by the creeps at CSC, there'll be bloody hand-to-hand fighting and soaring firebombs inside of a month. They have an absolute talent for the fine art of taking a bad situation and making it 300 time worse.

A year ago, Andy Crossley, a Breaker's FO executive, made some comments to a New York Times reporter which caused something of a stir.

He was quoted as saying that the WPS needed to "break out of the ghetto" of being seen as a sort of "Chuck E Cheeses'". He was roundly criticized - some of it, I'm sad to say, because of writers who misunderstood his use of the term "ghetto" - but, frankly, I think he's right.

Like it or not, the customer base for sports - ALL sports - in the US is primarily male. If you're going to try and create a few hundred thousand adult female professional sports fanatics who'll buy season tickets and watch a lot of games on TV you're living in dreamland.

And you're not going to attract anything like a sizeable male customer base by running - well, a Chucky Cheese for little girls in club uniforms.

Now obviously nobody is in favor of people hurling racial abuse or gross scatological chants around - even if you're the worlds' biggest bigot and/or dirtbag you understand that if nothing else it's bad for business - but at the same time having people singing the Barney Song isn't going to sell many tickets and save her job.

Then all you have to do is convince Hope Solo that complaining about heckling is a good way to ensure that you're going to hear a lot more of it, using Twitter to whine about it is a really bad, unprofessional way to handle it and all things considered it might very well help save her job.