That was rude.
I feel a little weird coming back to this after my diatribe on chanting and fan culture posted no more than a week ago. Interestingly enough a lot of the whispers of rumors that many of us had heard about the possibility of sanctions being handed down to RSL, our Supporters Groups, and fans in general were confirmed yesterday in the form of a letter to RSL fans from the club and MLS.
The reactions to this letter have hit on every note of the scale. A brief search of the #YSA or #RSL tags on twitter will lead to laughs and amounts of utter frustration that I am sure a doctor does not recommend, depending on your point of view.
Let's talk a little about the background of the infamous YOU SUCK ASSHOLE (YSA) chant.
Fair warning, I have loved this chant for years. My friends and I have participated at both home and away matches since I started attending matches years ago. I am and have been, and I'm not ashamed of it, part of the problem. Since I can remember there have been 3 chants, at first in Rice Eccles, and now in Rio Tinto, that the majority of fans have been able to grab a hold of and really get force behind. Ole! Ole! Ole! Real Salt Lake! is a personal favorite. Ref you suck! Seems to be catching on recently, but that one is just awesome, and You suck asshole!
YSA has been heard since the earliest days after every single away team goal kick and is meant to intimidate the goalie into screwing up his kick......I guess........ Nothing is more intimidating than informing a professional athlete that he sucks and is an asshole, or even better, sucks it. But there we are, with boisterous voices, every single game, telling Perkins, Hall, Cannon, and others that they suck, or suck it.
So what is the problem? Why is it that the league and the team are now asking us to get a handle on this chant, even to the point of outright elimination? There are a couple of reasons that have been shared with me recently and I wanted to get them out there into the interweb so those that truly care can read/share/digest them and hopefully that will bring some light to it. I'll be honest. I am biased, and I will do my best to delve into both sides of the arguments after the reasons.
1. People are complaining
This one I find interesting, though entirely valid. Every single game, without fail, there are complaints regarding the language in the stands and specifically the YSA chant. Whether or not you agree that we should clean up our language and move away from YSA the fact that there are complaints is a motivating factor. If you own a business and you feel that many people are staying away from, or ceasing to buy what you are selling, you will assess that and address it as you see fit.
2. Playing a factor in a larger television deal.
We hear all the time how we want the league to grow and be seen on a wider scale. A very large factor in that is TV viewership. What TV censors view as foul or objectionable language occurring in EVERY MLS match could have a potential influence on future TV deals MLS might be involved in.
3. League initiative
MLS as a business and as the overseer and regulator of first division soccer in the US and Canada has decided to make this an issue. They are taking a stand on this type of behavior in an effort to make games more attractive to everyone.
4. Team initiative
Let's face it. We live in a rather conservative area of the country. Like it or not it would be infinitely stupid to not attempt to cater to your largest subset of potential fan demographics.
The very interesting thing to me has been the fan reaction to this proposed, and now mandatory, change at the stadium.
Well, there's copious amounts of hearsay and rumor spreading going on amongst the various supporters groups. If you ask around you'll hear things like "it's the man keeping us down" and the like. Apparently if we don't use YSA at matches any more there will be a systematic crackdown on all supporter activity that will lead to the noise level at Rio Tinto becoming something similar to say, a high school girls lacrosse game?
I don't really understand this argument at all. But then again, I'm not a conspiracy theorist or that attached to the chant in the first place.
You also hear that if people don't like or can't stand something as "harmless" as YSA then they shouldn't be there and we don't really want them there anyway.
From the other side the arguments are similar. The big one that most are standing on is that the YSA chant is un-original, played out. We should expect better from ourselves and our team deserves better.
The other that has been the most interesting to me is that these people echo the sentiment of the YSA supporters, in that, if people can't let go of the chant and get on board with something a bit more creative then they aren't the type of fan that we want at the RioT and we don't want them there anyway.
So, now my thoughts.
Like I said earlier, I am guilty of using this chant EVERY game for the past few years, both home and away, and much worse at away matches. Oddly, I fall on the "We can do better" side of this argument. Why can't we? What good is it to stand up to the club we all love and say "you know what, you're wrong about this chant!! I will yell ASSHOLE til the day I die!". Really? That's the battle we're going to fight as supporters? There are a million other things that we could be asking for or arguing about. How about some unity on other chants? Larger Capo stands? Flares? Bullhorns? Money for TIFO? Nope. The battleground is the word ASSHOLE.
I don't get it.
The other thing that I don't quite understand is why it got to this point. Discussions have been had for years about a collaborative effort to move past this chant and on to something "better". The RSL FO has always been the type to make suggestions rather than demands. Light encouragement and an attempt at collaboration was made for a substantial amount of time before the "threat letter" was sent yesterday. What did they get in return? Well, obviously, not what they had hoped. The lack of cooperation is what has lead us here.
Here is a place that I don't think any of us want to be. Stuck literally between two polar opposite opinions and being forced to attempt to influence 20,000 people immediately. If we don't change we will be sanctioned, we will lose privileges, we won't be able to travel, essentially we'll be put in fan Hell. Do you want that? Really? Is this the worth the fight and potential consequences? Why not come up with something better and make the stadium more unified? Why not make an effort to cooperate with the league and the team in the hopes that a stronger relationship there will benefit us in the future? That's what this is. Stand alone or stand together. Unite as a fan base, team, AND league for the betterment of everything we want RSL to be.
I'm in. Are you?