Boycotts, Real Fan Syndrome and Revolutionary Thinking.

If you regularly follow New England Revolution discussions on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and even Big Soccer you are likely aware that a boycott of the Revs is under way and looking to pick up steam.  “I’m heartbroken that it’s gotten to this point, but we can no longer financially validate the way the organization conducts its business,” said Boycott the Revs organizer Mike Marshall. “In the past few years, the Revolution have been passed by nearly every other club in MLS both on and off the field. If the Krafts won’t demand fundamental changes in the way the franchise is run, then we will.”

Among the demands of the boycott are, replacing Mike Burns as GM, enhancing communication between ownership and fans, making Gillette more soccer friendly, and improved relations between fans and security.  Honestly I can’t really argue with any of these, in fact I support almost all of them. 

The leaders of the Riders and Rebellion will likely tell you that improved relations between security and fans are already in effect.  After the Fortgate debacle of last year meetings between the Riders, Rebellion, TeamOps and the team were instituted prior to every home game.  This season, I have noticed much less of a TeamOps presence in the Fort, but there haven’t really been any major issues to test this new found relationship, that’s a good thing, but until then it remains untested.  This is all well and good for the Fort but there are many fans around the stadium who have issues with TeamOps and this does not help them.

Mike Burns needs to go.  I don’t feel the need to justify this statement. I’ve been harping on this for the past 2 years and quite frankly I’m sick of going into the details… this should have been done a long time ago.

Communication between ownership and fans would be a great step in letting them actually hear what the people who give them money think, and for them to give us some insight into the way the view the team.  Improved communication could go a long way to improve confidence within the fanbase in the ownership, on the flipside though it could further the lack of confidence many have in ownership.

Gillette Stadium, despite Jonathan Kraft’s assurance to the contrary, is not a great place for soccer, but for now it’s all we got. There is no sign that we exist, that we matter, that anyone in KSG is proud that we are part of their family. Signs of our existence are removed during Patriots games and other special events… is it really that hard to see why many feel as if we are second (or even third now to Umass) class citizens? The little things can make a huge difference in how the team and gameday experience is perceived.  Things like video ad boards, and box goals do matter and leave an impression of professionalism and seriousness of the team to the rest of the soccer world.  The boycott asks for no football lines until Patriots pre-season, I will say that in the past few years there has been improvement here, however I do not think it is too much to ask to say no lines at all for any Revolution game.  If Seattle can do it why can’t we?

I will not be joining in or lending my support to the Revs Boycott.  I applaud Mike Marshall for what he is doing, but I think he is in over his head and has not done enough preparation prior to moving forward.  As of the time of writing there are 21 likes to the Facebook page, 21 Twitter followers, and 34 total signatures to the petition.  The Revs Boycott has not come close to a critical mass of supporters yet has already moved froward with press releases to local media, and sent certified letters to the Krafts basically saying they represent a movement of fans who are fed up.  There is no consistent feel or branding to the campaign, there are borrowed images and not even a real website.  These are important things to show that you are serious.  Also personally I’m less than pleased at the use of the “Support The Fort” image as the profile picture for the revs boycott twitter.  I was heavily involved in the Black Sunday/Support The Fort walkout, that’s our image and represents the hard work we did to make that happen. Those of us that organized that, are not part of this.
A boycott is a pretty serious move to make, and I understand the feelings that go with the choice to boycott, however it is a step too far. A radical move will only serve to, well, radicalize people. Black Sunday had all kinds of detractors, some saying it was too much, some saying it was not enough.  We though about going to the extreme and then we took a step back and found a middle ground that got more people willing to be involved and alienated less.  I think you are in the right place when you have people telling you it’s too much or too little.  I haven’t heard anyone say that the boycott is too little, but plenty saying it is too much.
A better move in my opinion is a third party supporters movement similar to the Manchester United Supporters Trust (cue Fort Trust joke here…) and engage in a media campaign. Speak to the issues, why they are issues and quite frankly make the Krafts look bad while maintaining a professional and respectful dialogue.  If people wish to boycott, let them and speak to that, but also give an avenue to those who do not want to boycott to become involved in pushing for change with you.
I don’t think the boycott will get the numbers it needs to make a difference. I see there being a pretty evenly cut divide between the supporters groups, with one bristling against it and those involved and another sort of being indifferent towards it.  Then there is your average fan… I think as far as regular fans and STH holders the Revs are at a stasis of rock bottom, there is not much of a pool of people to attract. I don’t think numbers can or will go much lower than they are now… but hey the Revs have a great renewal rate!  There are plenty of people who have left the team, the boycott needs to find those people and get them involved, but they left quietly for a reason.  I think the boycott will be hard pressed to find these people and convince them to get involved in boycotting a product that they stopped caring about or having a connection to a long time ago. Granted there are people, friends of mine even, who have been silently boycotting or are joining in, but I think the boycott will only attract those freshly leaving their financial support of the team.
Despite my criticism of the boycott I commend anyone who sees something that they care about being mistreated, neglected, attacked, etc. and taking the initiative to stand up and say something… it takes balls. I wish Mike Marshall and those boycotting the best of luck.  Personally going to games and being loud in the Fort is my release, it’s important to me and something that helps me de-stress from normal life, even if the Revs stress me out on their own.  I implore those taking part in the boycott to not do so quietly. Signing an internet petition and not going to games means nothing if you don’t really get involved in the boycott. You will not be missed by the organization, they will not care that you are gone, hell many of the fans will feel the same way.  Sitting on your hands and doing nothing will ensure failure for your boycott. Mike can not do this by himself, if you really care about the team and feel a boycott is your only option, help Mike and help your other boycotters to make this work… otherwise do you really care all that much or are you going to use the boycott as an excuse?
I feel that I am an expert in the field of the claim that I am about to make…
You “Real Fan” people are major fucking assholes… and I pride myself on being a bit of an asshole… but hell you could teach me a thing or two.
Who the fuck are you to tell someone that they are not a real fan or what a real fan is? You’re a nobody and you make yourself look like a fucking moron the second you trot that ‘real fan’ or similar line out.
Let’s be honest… the real fan thing is an internet tough guy line of BS.  There are a few regulars and when they’ve been called out on it they generally avoid the in person discussion… I know, I’ve tried. If you can’t say it to someones face you shouldn’t be saying it online… your dick isn’t really as big as you think it is.
Listen there are arrogant assholes on both sides of the Rev fan spectrum, however the ultra positives seem militant in their need to go after those with differing opinions.
I guess it’s wrong to have an opinion.
I guess it’s wrong to speak your mind.
I guess it wrong to ask questions.
I guess it’s wrong to do anything but blindly follow.
I guess it’s wrong to support these values that our country’s forefathers had when the felt the need to fight for independence from Britain and start a revolution. (see what I did there…)
Our team is named for Revolution, the American Revolution, it honors the history of those who stood up for what they believe in, made a stand and fought for what they believed to be right. Those suffering from “Real Fan Syndrome” need to take a look at themselves and the bigger picture. You have a right to not agree with someones opinion but they have a right to have and to speak about it. Attempt to stifle those who disagree with you all you want… but that sounds pretty un-American and un-Revolutionary to me.
My support for the team is just that… support for the team… the 11 guys on the field playing for us.  My criticism of the ownership, FO and the off the field elements of the New England Revolution are directly tied to support for the team.  The complaints that many have made over and over and over again are made in the interest of improving support for the team, both from fans and organizationally.  People want changes made because they believe it will directly or indirectly support those 11 guys on the field.  Those who are critical are just as much a supporter of the team as anyone else. Stop treating them like they aren’t.

4 thoughts on “Boycotts, Real Fan Syndrome and Revolutionary Thinking.

  1. Anyone who follows the team in any way (even those participating in the boycott) are real fans because they obviously want change. Who doesn't at this point? If someone wants to be overly critical, more power to you. If someone wants to boycott, more power to you. If someone wants to act like nothing is wrong with the organization, more power to you.

    I strive for a day we are all singing/chanting in unison as supporters and respect each other. The arguments on twitter (I've seen them and don't participate in them) are borderline childish. I understand debates will happen among supporters and that is healthy but name calling and swearing at each other like children is a bit pathetic.

    I advise those who are against the boycott to just let it happen. I don't personally think anything will come of it, but some people need to have better things to do than rant about how detrimental a boycott is. The players aren't going to walk into an empty stadium on Saturday (there's a joke about Gillette in that statement) the team made a shit ton of promotions so it'll probably be a good crowd. The boycott won't be noticed, I think and everyone will go about their lives. So please people just chill out, it's been a tough year but we've seen worse.

  2. Last home game as I was walking out of the stadium across the parking lot, a girl in a car leaned out of her window and asked “what's going on?”… she was at Patriot Place FFS – probably going to a movie – but She, as well as the three other people in the car, had NO IDEA that there was a Revs game on. SAD SAD SAD.

  3. Very fair article, Brian. I'd just like to respond to a couple of items.

    1. I plead guilty to the use of the “Support the Fort” logo. To be honest, it was more thoughtless on my part than anything else. I didn't mean to offend anyone, and as of today, I'm not using it any more.

    2. In retrospect, I also probably launched before I was really ready. I'm not a professional boycotter by any stretch of the imagination. And I agree about the need for a consistent theme/logo/look. At the time, I thought it was more important to get off the ground and develop that stuff later on. In retrospect, that might have been a strategic mistake.

    3. I don't hold any ill will towards those Revs fans who don't wish to join the boycott. I can't put myself in anyone else's shoes. Personally, I think I've reached the point where I've just had enough. If you or anyone else isn't to that point, then that's fine. (Although, I think if there's not fundamental business changes, we'll pretty much all get there eventually.)

    4. Not sure if the “real fan” commentary was directed towards me or not, but just to be clear, in no way am I insinuating that I'm more of a fan than anyone else, boycott or no boycott.

    Thanks for cheap publicity. :)

    I enjoy the site. Keep it up.

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