—by Ben Stern
I know why I stand here.
It was just last week, whilst watching highlights from Mexico and Germany, that I thought my biggest concern going into this Friday night’s game was whether or not I would listen to those behind me yelling “FLAG DOWN!!!” Don’t we all show up hours upon hours early so that we have the right to jump and clap and sing for the entire match? Isn’t that the point of being a supporter? I found myself feeling quite angsty and entitled that I should be able to support my soccer team as boisterously as possible.
...and then the tragic MAX incident occurred.
And I remembered all the times, whether on SCUSA or on Twitter or in the terraces, when people demanded that the 107IST and Timbers Army stand for soccer support, and NOTHING more. I think of the arguments over who is offended by which chants and who stood where first and why we don’t sing for players.
None of these things matter right now. The soccer doesn’t matter right now. I’m not even sure that it ever really did?
I stand with the Timbers Army because I know there are thousands of people who would do the exact same thing as Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, Rick Best, and Micah David-Cole Fletcher. I stand with the TA because we agree on love and the quality of human life. I stand with the TA because I know that this Friday night is not simply a chance for the Timbers to get revenge on San Jose… or gain 3 points in the table… or solve our depth issues or discipline or defense… all I can think about is getting into that stadium Friday night and telling complete strangers and vaguely familiar faces that I love them. All I can think about is being with those thousands of Portlanders who will also want to weep and break down and build each other back up. All I can think of is how WE need this experience of rooting on a soccer club so that we can somehow express our cries for compassion and equality and humanity and the loss of our local heroes.
Friday night’s game should be the loudest of the season. Regardless of how the Timbers play, we all need this healing experience with the thousands of friends who are also standing for the same things. From the capo stands through the 100s and into the upper 2’s, don’t settle by holding anything in. Use this amazing outlet that we’ve been given and let it all out.
What act of love will you bring to Friday night? Respect the refs a little more by NOT screaming “F-U-REF?” Buy someone a beer? Make a donation? Speak to and treat strangers with dignity and respect?
What if we all committed to one act of love for the man who loves us back? Diego Valeri envelops all the ideals of love and respect and equality that our club and supporters stand for. What if we ALL sang for the man who wishes he could sing for us? I’m not suggesting any one Valeri chant… but I am demanding that when you hear one, you pick it up and scream it at the top of your lungs. Remember why you stand in the Timbers Army. Valeri stands here too.
I’d encourage you to also consider signing up for and attending Saturday’s “Booked! Club” discussion on Nick Davidson’s FC St. Pauli book “Pirates, Punks & Politics: Falling in Love with a Radical Football Club,” as it will be relevant to what you’ve just read.
Nie Wieder Faschismus!
I really do love you all.