We overuse the word “Hero” in modern society, but I think we need to talk about what makes a person one.

A hero is someone who is willing to take a stand when the easiest course of action is simply staying silent. A hero is decisive when others are unwilling to risk being wrong. A hero is bold, someone who bravely strikes out when fear of failure paralyzes those around him. A hero is willing to take the criticism and fend off the doubters along the way; because a true goddamn hero understands that a righteous outcome is its own reward.

Think about people in our own society who that description applies to: Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Joe Rogan.

Now add a new name to that list: Anthony. Motherfucking. Precourt.

I want everyone to go back in time with me to 2017, an ancient era where WAP was still a racial slur and only luchadors or people going to Comic Con wore masks. In that year, Anthony M. Precourt bravely stepped out from the shadows of his dingy, shoddily constructed owners suite by the interstate at MAPFRE stadium and made the bold declaration that the Columbus Crew were going to move; one of the original MLS franchises was trading their hard hats for cowboy hats and heading to Austin, Texas.

There was an immediate outcry from dozens and dozens of aggrieved Crew fans, most of whom had naively assumed that since no one in Columbus had ever cared about the Crew that “having an engaged fan-base” wasn’t really a requirement to keep an MLS franchise in town. It became the one of the biggest questions in Columbus (behind only “Who do the Buckeyes play this weekend?”): “Why would you move a sports team to Austin?”

And, at least on paper, their question seemed legit.

The only two things most people know about Austin are:

⦁ It’s the home of the chronically underachieving University of Texas Longhorns, and

⦁ Anyone with $75 and a credit score of 550 can open an upscale taco shop somewhere in town.

It certainly isn’t the first place you think of when you think “Professional Sports.” Austin currently has exactly 0 major league teams and, specific to soccer, has never had success as a USL market (their last team, the Austin Aztex, folded in 2016 after averaging fewer fans than the Richmond Kickers per match). The city hadn’t even bothered to participate in the fucked-up reality show that was MLS Expansion-a-Palooza. And, if you aren’t willing to hand-deliver an expansion proposal in an AstroTurf-covered book or humiliate yourself by standing around and waiting to cheer for a billionaire’s private jet showing up with the MLS commissioner inside, do you even WANT soccer in your town? It seemed absurd to even consider Austin as a destination for the Crew.

That isn’t to say there weren’t arguments to make in Austin’s favor, though.  It is, inexplicably, a Top-30 metro area by population (owing mostly to a staggering 30% population increase in recent years – you could offer people free houses plus a cure for COVID and still struggle to get a 30% population growth in most parts of the country). It’s located in Texas, which means all the Whataburger you can eat and easy access to Elon Musk’s Mars rockets if you need a quick relocation off planet (an option looking better and better by the fucking second). Demographically, it has the large Latino population that MLS likes to pretend would be interested in watching their league instead of LigaMX. And, it trails only Asheville, NC in fedora-wearing hipsters per capita, which seems to make it an ideal spot for a counter-culture sport like soccer has historically been.

You know by now how the story ends up going. Anthony Precourt was a punching bag and a running joke. Memes were posted. Op Eds were written tearing the man down. And, back in Columbus (where empty bleachers still outnumbered actual Crew fans), work was done to save the Crew. And, while all of the yellow bumblebee-looking weirdos in central Ohio were burning the man in effigy, Precourt was calmly working away down in Austin. Now, we see what he’s been up to – in the middle of a fucking pandemic, his Austin FC club has sold out of season tickets, selling 15,000+ before a single player has been signed.

15,000, mind you, is more tickets than the 14,856 the “saved” Columbus Crew averaged at their 2019 home matches.

To top it all off, Precourt is a model owner off the field. You know who didn’t get jerked off at a strip mall massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida? Anthony Precourt. You know who didn’t run a team with a racist mascot for decades and get himself embroiled in a scandal over sexual harassment and prostituting cheerleaders for sponsors? Anthony Precourt. You know who hasn’t closed his team facilities down in a racist rage because his players had the audacity to have an opinion on things? Yup – Anthony Precourt. Sports owners are, almost universally, awful people. They’re like if the worst aspects of your grandparents suddenly got rich and took control of something you care about. If they aren’t declaring “Jeans Day” in the office so they can demand female employees turn around and show off their backsides, they’re showing off their Nazi armbands to reporters and talking about all the good shit Hitler did in the beginning. The best thing an owner can ever do is shut up and not make news for being a fuckup. You know who didn’t make a peep of news for being a fuck-up in 2020? Anthony Motherfucking Precourt.

Hell, Precourt might have landed the best dunk in history on Crew SC when his promotional images for the new Austin FC stadium casually included background photos of Djiby scoring his header against them in the Open Cup for FC Cincinnati.

This is a long way of saying that it’s time we gave Anthony Precourt the titles he has earned by his performance: Hero. (We would also accept “genius” and “trendsetter” for the purposes of this article).

While everyone out there was laughing or fishing for likes and RTs calling him an asshole, Precourt was doing that work. He’ll be rocking out in a brand new stadium (under construction and set to be completed in time for the 2021 season assuming COVID-20 doesn’t come and wipe the human race out) in front of sold out crowds in a place with no winter weather and no state income tax. And there were people SERIOUSLY suggesting he should have stayed in Columbus? Ridiculous. The only mistake Precourt has made here was not making this move when he first bought the Crew.

So cheers to you, Anthony. We’ll be the bigger people and say what the ungrateful peasants in Columbus won’t: You were right all along.