#BelieveInGaston And The Power of Positivity
The #BelieveInGaston trending moment last week was a rare occurrence; self made optimism and unfettered enthusiasm in sports fandom. The joy is evident in the fact I used the word unfettered. If any of the passion from last season had waned, you wouldn’t know it based on the insatiable appetite for rumors and signings, and that now famous hashtag. It was in a void of breaking news where young and old, obnoxious and mellow, pessimist and optimist came together. I spoke with Joseph Même , architect of #BelieveInGaston about that memorable day and night.
Early Sunday morning (1/19) word started spreading to The Post’s beat writer Même and others; Gaston was interested in FC Cincinnati, but it was much more complicated than that. The deal wasn’t dead, and FCC GM Gerard Nijkamp had put Gaston and his representatives on a 24 hour clock; after which the team would need to move on. The club was hoping for positivity, not backlash, to help inch Gaston closer to a decision. Unfortunately, the lack of updates and assumed blame on Gaston’s agent Paco Casal had cast a dark cloud over the entire saga.
“I had noticed some pretty negative stuff floating around about how people were tired of waiting on Gaston. Some even said things about him "acting like a diva" or that they didn't want his ego. Some even claimed that they don't want him here if he doesn't WANT to be here.” remembers our own Joseph Même.
He continued, “I knew that, once given the notion that a positive attitude may be beneficial to their club, fans would jump at my call for positivity. I could never have anticipated the magnitude of the response we got.”
With the call put out, people online immediately started selling Gaston on why Cincinnati was the right choice for him. Some were tongue in cheek, some adorably sincere, and all with the same goal: get Gaston. Eventually the tweets began to add up, with the hashtag now trending in Cincinnati.
"I've been in and out of Social Media work in my career... I've been to the mountaintop of the Reddit front page..." Même tells The Post.
"Most of my successes come from reading the situation and the audience in just the right way, at just the right time. This one though... it was different."
"#BelieveInGastón began around Noon on a Sunday. It had been two days since my car accident and I was posted up in bed, hazy-minded from a mix of a concussion and a bit of Vicodin. It was nothing short of an out-of-body experience for me..."
Tweets begat tweets, and the numbers grew into the thousands. There was a profound lack of cynicism that became contagious. National pundits like MLS Extra Time host Andrew Wiebe couldn’t help but jump into the fold.
"The surge of tweets in response to this call for faith was immense. I sat in awe as the number of tweets continued to rise by the hundreds." added Joseph Même.
The rare dissenting voice came from a stray fan in Columbus (“how embarrassing that you have to beg”) and even some PSV fans in the Netherlands (“haha they think they’re getting Messi, or something”). What those and others not connected to FC Cincinnati failed to realize, was that it wasn’t about one player. Gaston was the avatar for the collective will of the fans to push this team towards respectability. Push the team towards attractive soccer.
"I was proud of their followers: Family, friends, acquaintances. The surge of positivity that I as but a spark was able to ignite within our large yet often-hostile and dejected fan-base was the best I've felt about our team and the community around it in over a year."
"... the real value in the whole experience turned out to be that we weren't really believing in Gastón. We discovered that we believe in ourselves. We believe that as a community, we can make an impact and we can join together for something bigger than one or a few of us. #BelieveInGastón has shown me, a lowly meme-maker/beat reporter, that there really is an opportunity every day for FC Cincinnati's fans to be great to and with one another."
The 24 hour deadline came and went. #BelieveInGaston had climbed as high as #2 trending in Cincinnati. From an outsiders POV, the fans were left in the same spot they'd always been in. For those that lived it however, nothing would ever be the same.