I do not have a billion dollars in my bank account. Maybe if I did it would be able to say the sort of things that Dell Loy Hansen does with a straight face.
And while reading the comments from Mr. Hansen, one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes kept popping up in my head: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
The morning after the Milwaukee Bucks and other teams in solidarity of their action that had a chance to play said, “Nope. Not today,” Dell Loy Hansen decided this morning would be a good time to show the soccer world exactly who he is. No second-hand accounts, no subtweets needed. He came right out and said it himself.
“It’s a moment of sadness. It’s like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally.”
Words spoken not about the murder of Black men or women across the country. Words not spoken about the government putting Americans in unmarked vans. Words spoken instead during a radio show about a soccer match being called off due to those players striking to kneel in solidarity for those fighting to help end racist systems.
Mr. Hansen was so unhappy about the match being called off and the fans being unable to watch that he decided to use the people he pays $12 an hour to make his point.
“I’m sadly disappointed that we didn’t weigh the effect for $12/hour employees, who we shook hands with an hour later and said you won’t have a job here. We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future. Monday, I start having to cut 40, 50 jobs again. We would not go through the risk of inviting people back to have that kind of an outcome.”
Yes, why risk another strike when you can hold the firing of 40 to 50 people making $12 an hour up as proof it is the striking players as the real evil in all of this. Not the system that allowed you to make billions, not the racist systems that murder Black men and women for walking down the street or helping to break up a fight or just sleeping in our their homes. No, it couldn’t be those systems, it has to be the players striking and some invisible egg on your face that’s the real outrage.
Hansen created this flaming dumpster fire because he’s now decided to say the quiet parts out loud. Now that his pride (read: his wallet) has been tacked with RSL taking part in yesterday’s wildcat strike in solidarity, the jolly grandfather mask he’s put for the public is really just an angry old white man, angry because his wallet is a little bit lighter. Keep in mind his wallet is still fatter than what you or I will likely ever earn in our lifetimes, but now he because it’s “hurting” him, he now thinks he as authority to say what he really thinks, immune of any consequence.
Funny thing is, that in 2020, saying the quiet parts out loud now is starting to come with consequence.
“It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.”
Players do have some choice as to where they play. Not a lot and not enough at times but they do have some choice. And while the comments made were about MLS’ Real Salt Lake team, it is not far fetched to say NWSL players heard the words too, both currently on his roster and off of it.
Mr. Hansen said in his radio interview “I’m very, very supportive of an inclusive, fairly liberal agenda” But what they may have heard is a lot closer to “if you come to Utah, we will not support you, Black lives nor human compassion. If we sell tickets then you are going to kick balls in front of the fans no matter the personal pain, no matter the cost because if you don’t my bottom line is hurt and there is nothing more important to me than my bottom line”.
The Utah Royals are meant to play matches in just a week or two against OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC. We don’t know the dates yet, but we do know they are slated to happen. And as I read the words from Mr. Hansen — as I read his anger and see his blindspots — I do have to wonder if the players will be able to stomach putting on his crest.
During the hellscape that the year 2020 has been, nearly every Utah Royals player has come out in support of Black Lives Matter. When some are Black themselves, have Black members of their family or just have empathy for their fellow humans, how do you put on the crest of someone who is this upset about a temporary strike in support of Black Lives Matter? How do you go out there and kick balls with his club name over your heart?
I don’t have an answer for what else players should do.
I do know during the NWSL Challenge Cup players were able to opt out of the event and still get their full pay. We don’t know if that will carry to this fall series or not. But if it does then I do have to wonder if suddenly a whole lot of players who normally would be in gold decide to sit this one out. Maybe for the travel they now will be subject too but maybe also because their jersey is a lot harder to put on than it used to be.
I would like to make it clear that I do not know if this will happen and there are legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with Mr. Hansen that might cause a player to sit out. But the thought if they do sit out will always be there after his comments. After he made it so painfully clear which side of the line he stands on.
Mr. Hansen has made it clear the type of person he is. There is no reading between the lines on this one, no second-hand account, no tracking players leaving the club and wondering. Mr. Hansen said the quiet part out loud for all of us to hear.
Even if MLS or NWSL or both take over Real Salt Lake or the Utah Royals FC, this doesn’t go away in a moment. New ownership would have to both heal a lot of broken paths, deal with matches during a pandemic and the process would not be short nor sweet. And with time running out before another MLS or NWSL match is played, feelings won’t just dissipate if Mr. Hansen’s name is no longer on the checks.
Is this soccer in the United States’ version of Donald Sterling of NBA infamy? It feels like that’s where this dumpster fire is going as it seems to be developing by the hour. Clearly those that have long been in the know of the real Dell Loy Hansen have been putting up with his tomfoolery for some time, and this morning’s radio appearance may be the final straw.
If the comments aren’t the definitive moment, then surely there’s going to be the consequence of which soccer player, across MLS, NWSL, and USL wants to come play in Utah, wearing a Utah uniform as long he holds the title of Owner?