Before I get too far into this, I need to mention that I am a graduate student at Utah State University. I like what I do, and I love the field I want to work in, so I chose to pursue this degree.
When I talk about the office, I mean 10 or so cubicles in one big office that are occupied by people absolutely sick of me talking about Real Salt Lake. And why should they welcome it? Each Monday is a mystery to them—will I be happy, sad, miserable, ecstatic? I don’t mean to make myself sound more important than I am, maybe they don’t care at all—but I imagine this may be how some of you all feel in your respective work environments. We seek out soccer fans like lost puppies searching desperately for a permanent home, and if it doesn’t happen organically, anyone who politely asks, “how was your weekend?” falls victim to our emotions and airing of grievances.
“I mean, seriously! Look again! What the hell was he thinking with that pass?! Shoot the ball!”
“I tell you, Charles, that goal was magical. It embodies something that I feel we always want to see as RSL fans, but we were never really sure if we had the players to do it, and then Savarino comes in and does it! I don’t think anyone in those stands had ever seen something so beautiful. I’ve watched it 5 times… Rusnak’s too! Hey, Kelly! Have you seen this goal?!”
They watch and they listen because they care about us, but they don’t really care about the game or RSL. Not yet, anyway. So, when I found myself explaining that we were “finally above the red line,” I learned that I had to explain what that entailed. And after I explained that, it only seemed fair to describe that it’s still temporary. We are above now, and that’s great, but who knows what next week or next month will bring. A simple question “how was your weekend?” turns into a 30 minute explanation because soccer and RSL matters to us, and we matter to our co-workers.
When I started graduate school last year, I struggled to get acclimated to the amount of work and level of professionalism that was expected of me. Like a rookie or expansion team, I had to rely on others to help me reach these high expectations. I still remember one conversation I had last year. “It’s not about excelling or exceeding expectations like before. We just have to survive. If we can survive this week, we can survive this month, and this year, and next, and before long, we will have it.”
My co-workers understand a little more about soccer each week, and there is no doubt that it’s the same for some readers. Sometimes, not often, but enough to recognize it, they help put things into perspective for me. So, I feel like I need to turn to the fans now and say this, lest we forget—MLS as a whole, and especially the Western Conference, is about survival. Making it week after week, month after month, until one team lifts the Cup. Teams don’t have to excel or exceed expectations, they just need to survive. Although it’s important to know that it isn’t forever, hold onto this weekend as a sign of our survival. Lift your head and wear your crest and walk into work showing everyone you pass Savarino’s goal because we aren’t dead yet. Not by a long shot.