MONDAY FUNDAY FUNBLAST: The Spoonmen of Cincy
The Monday Funday Funblast — Monday, November 11th 2021
We’re back after a short hiatus (I know this will shock you, but your boy the Chief here doesn’t get paid for writing this column and *does* get paid for other stuff that occasionally need his full attention) and ready to dispense more takes! Did you miss it? Of course you did! So — onward!
SPOON (ft. ALANIS MORISETTE)
There’s really no sugar coating this one — the Anthony Precourt Wooden Spoon will officially reside in Cincinnati for yet another season. Cincinnati, by virtue of the dick-stomping they took at the hands of Nashville midweek (and then topped with the shit-sculpture cherry in Philly), is guaranteed to finish last overall on the MLS Table for the third straight year (though, as The Post’s Joseph Meme notes, since the Independent Supporters Council elected not to award the Wooden Spoon last season, this technically brings Cincinnati’s total two straight spoons in a row). Within minutes of the game going final, FC Twitter had taken to adding the spoon emoji to their profile names, using the word “spoon” in posts, etc.
At this point, we might as well embrace what’s happening and push the ISC to rename the trophy to the “Jeff Berding Wooden Spoon.” It’s already fucking stupid that the Wooden Spoon is named after Anthony Precourt. As we proved, conclusively, last year, Anthony Precourt did absolutely nothing wrong and successfully traded a mediocre MLS club for one in an exponentially better city, with exponentially better fans and a way cooler celebrity endorser. Nobody fucking likes Columbus — it’s a boring midwestern truck stop with absolutely no culture to speak of where the most exciting thing to happen recently has been a washed football coach getting an over-the-pants dick rubbing by some 22 year old strange in public. Precourt moving his operations to Austin was one of the biggest dubs in MLS history, and he should be fucking celebrated for it. The only reason his name is on that trophy is because a bunch of fucking Hardos at the ISC decided it would be a “sick burn” and maybe earn them some street cred with the 60-70 actual people who give a shit about Crew SC. If there’s going to be a silly award for failure in MLS, maybe name it after someone who has actually failed repeatedly? Hell, we could even see if Gold Star Chili would sponsor the thing, given that their entire business (much like The FC) involves spoons being used to serve the public actual shit.
To be honest, I don’t give a fuck that The FC “won” the Spoon again this year. Modern philosophy giant Dominic Toretto once stated “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or you win by a mile, winning is winning.” A noted corollary to “Dominic’s Theorem” (as it’s known on college campuses) would also be “It don’t matter if you you lose by an inch or you lose by a mile, losing is losing.” Nowhere is this more true than MLS, where there are no considerations of draft order / draft lottery that weigh on the outcome of awful matches. The value of having the #1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft ranks somewhere between 10 Dogecoins and a coupon for a free order of Hash Browns at participating Waffle House locations. So finishing in last? No real benefit. But, is finishing in dead last really that much worse of an experience than finishing second to last? Chicago won 2 additional games and had a few more draws than we did. Would your experience as a fan of The FC have been *that* much better if we’d have turned two of those road draws into road wins over the course of an entire year? Would the Dutch Dickheads have been any less fired for coming in third to last as opposed to straight-up last place? If anything, there’s a benefit to finishing in last place because it gave you a free opportunity to see who on this team has a “Give a Shit”-o-meter that runs hot enough to take pride in avoiding the last place finish. Turns out the answer was “No one,” which tells me that every single fucking person should be on the block heading into 2022. When it was just about playing for pride, most of this team mailed it the fuck in. That’s a valuable lesson Chris Albright learned because of a dead-last place finish.
And, in a bizarre sort of way, setting the record (with asterisk, see above) for most consecutive Spoons Won may actually be a good thing in the long run. It means any eventual turnaround of The FC will be, by definition, record setting. After all, no team in history has made the playoffs / won a playoff game / won the MLS Cup after winning three consecutive spoons. Additionally, you can only truly experience joy as a sports fan when you’ve also known rock bottom. It’s why most fans of major college super programs like Ohio State, Alabama, etc. are such miserable fuckwads. They’ve known nothing but success for decades, and the spot in their sports brain/souls that used to be occupied by happiness and joy has been replaced with entitlement. It’s only after you’ve stood in darkness that you find the light blinding.
That brings us to..
WHAT IS THE SOUND OF NO FANS CLAPPING?
The hottest topic in the Garydom right doesn’t involve the team performance (spoiler: it’s shit, see above), but rather the degree of response that the fans should have to it happening. The conversation came to a boil with this tweet from Auxilia One: A Star Wars Story (along with accompanying think piece):
The basic premise of the article boils down to a single question of “What does it mean to be a ‘supporter’ of a soccer club?” And when is it appropriate, for lack of a more elegant phrasing, to drop your club and move on until the time comes as they are more “worthy” of your support?
American soccer fandom is a curious thing. It’s a sport that is rife with gatekeeping behavior born out of the idea of soccer as a counterculture movement, where people who eschewed traditional American sports revelry could bask in their own sense of worldly superiority. It was, in many ways, the punk rock of American sports culture — stuffed to the gills with people into it for the scene as much as they were the product. Emulating what is done overseas went hand-in-hand with this; it’s difficult to loudly peacock your disdain for all things “ignorant American” if you’re also behaving in the manner of an ignorant American. Thus was born the ridiculous Eurocentric soccer culture of North America, where the platonic ideal of support was the stands at Old Trafford or Anfield and seas of middle-class white people singing made up nursery rhyme-esque songs to the tune of “Sloop John B” and “Lord of the Dance” while wearing fucking wool knit scarves in the dead of summer. It was designed, from jump, to be performative in nature. To this day, the overwhelming majority of supporters culture in MLS remains people cosplaying as working-class Brits.
I’m going to preface every comment that comes after this with a thought: You are free to do whatever the hell you want with your time and your money. You’re also free to do whatever it is that brings you happiness and, conversely, do whatever you want to remove things that make you unhappy from your life. If FC Cincinnati isn’t worth the stress, the cost, or the unhappiness to you personally, I understand that. Much like your QANON-spouting racist uncle, it’s OK (and even a little healthy) to uninvited the FC from your life if you need it. No hard feelings.
I would suggest, however, that if you’re going to spend all this time embracing the Eurocentric (or, really, world-centric, since a lot of this isn’t just European in nature) nature of soccer support, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of it you want to pantomime. You don’t get to sing “I’m Cincy ’Til I Die” on Saturday, and then drop your season tickets on Monday morning. You also don’t get to love your club just when it’s fun or convenient to love it. The truth is this: soccer support is pain. Americans have been insulated from that fact, mostly because the vast majority of us decided to follow European Superclubs who really never know the heartbreak of losing seasons or relegation threats. Don’t believe me? Compare the number of Chelsea / Arsenal / Liverpool / etc. fan groups operating here in Cincinnati to the number for Swansea, Fulham, Newcastle or countless other yo-yo clubs fighting desperately for the points to stay up or go back up in a given season. This expectation of good times and noodle salad has permeated MLS culture as well, where we don’t have a great cultural North Star to show us what the fuck to do when our teams suck ass. The closest most of us will ever come to understanding what it means to follow an absolutely dire team in the EPL is watching “Sunderland ’Til I Die” on Netflix or the first season of fucking Ted Lasso.
So, we circle back to the original premise behind the Aux Cord’s original tweet? What is the proper fan response to a losing season?
Much like a shitty crypto-bro, my answer would be: Buy the dip. We’re still in the infancy phase of building the supporters culture around The FC. It may feel like an eternity has passed since that first scissor-kick goal from Sean Okoli, but think about this — Tucker Barnhart has been the Reds catcher for longer than FC Cincinnati has existed. A child born on the first FC Cincinnati MLS Matchday wouldn’t even be in fucking pre-K yet. We are an almost hilariously young club, despite the incredible highs and lows we’ve experienced in that time. The decisions we’re making, as a fanbase, are going to have long-lasting repercussions on soccer fandom in Cincinnati. Do we want to be known as the place that always turns out for club and city and that creates generational fandom — because of course you support your hometown club through thick and thin? Or do we want to be known as yet another MLS city with scores of empty seats because our attention span is directly correlated with place on the table? Are we going to be the new American soccer Mecca (where it’s unthinkable that the USMNT / USWNT would play their biggest matches elsewhere), or were we only interested in the sport when it was fun, new and easy to support? Are we a fanbase that shows our displeasure in the stadium, loudly, or chooses to other voices fill the silence we leave behind?
I get that we live in a hellworld where it’s hard to think 30 days ahead, much less 30 years, but what kind of club do you want your grandkids to see (assuming no one eats another goddamn mammal in Wuhan this winter)? Do you want them growing up looking forward to the day where they inherit the family’s season tickets? Where the fandom and passion for the club is passed down through the family and summers are spent walking to matches through the West End? Where they learn the songs from the Bailey before they even know their A-B-Cs? Because that’s what it’s like in the places we all, allegedly, want to be like. Support is a guarantee because the club is more than the current owner, the current manager, or the current players. It’s something you love, even when it doesn’t love you back, because of what it means to be part of something bigger than you — something you can share with the scores of other fans who have gone before you and who are yet to come. That’s what we’re trying to build in Cincinnati (and, really, in America as a whole). If you wanna hop off that ride in Year 6, I won’t stop you. But, I’d suggest, you’re really missing the point of all this if you do.
We missed a few items while on hiatus, so we’ll do a few rapid-fire items here in lieu of a third segment.
* GEEKING OUT OVER PRICES: Was there a dumber fucking unforced error than The FC setting a price floor on selling your tickets on seat geek? Especially right before season ticket renewals were set to begin? If you want to sell a fucking ticket to the match, you should always have that right. If you want to give it away for $3 to buy a cheese coney for yourself, that’s your god fucking given right as a Cincinnatian. Tickets to these matches are less than worthless right now, and I’d rather a new fan or a fan who might not be able to afford tickets at full price get a chance to see TQL Stadium than an empty seat exist just to prove some fucking point about valuation.
* ROLLING OUT THE RED CARPET FOR FIFA: Is there anyone who genuinely thinks Cincinnati, Ohio is going to get a World Cup match? This “bid” feels like a fucking scam someone is getting rich on, and the idea of bringing FIFA executives around to see Cincinnati is a goddamn joke. I can only imagine the reaction of a bunch of dipshits from Zurich as they toured the concrete monstrosity that is Paul Brown Stadium and were told “Now, imagine this with grass instead of the plastic turf with orange paint!” Don’t get me wrong, I love Cincinnati, but we are not cut out to host major international events. You can’t even get from the fucking airport to the city without renting a car or getting an Uber / Lyft due to the lack of mass transit. You really think a bunch of foreign tourists are gonna get on a goddamn TANK bus to get downtown to their hotels? Fuck that.
* NO VENDAS TUS ENTRADAS: The Bailey Facebook Page (a literal Xzibit meme of “Yo dawg, I heard you liked cesspools…”) got up in arms over the very simple suggestion that FC STHs who received USA v. MEX tickets ought not sell to Mexican fans. Which, of course it fucking did. There’s absolutely nothing racist or Xenophobic about suggesting that home team fans ought not sell their tickets to away supporters. There are many reasons for this; not the least of which is the very basic IT DESTROYS THE GODDAMN HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE. For another, Cincinnati was given this match because of our loud and passionate support for soccer. Why the fuck would you willingly undercut that to sell your tickets to non-Cincinnatians who want to come and actively fuck up the vibe? If you’re invited to a swanky black-tie / open bar party for Ronald McDonald’s birthday, you don’t bring the fucking Burger King as your +1. That’s common fucking sense. Use it.
As we approach this final match and “Fan Appreciation Day,” I’ll end by thanking everyone for reading my ramblings throughout the season. Is there any interest in this continuing? The columns will probably shorten (which, I’m sure some of your are thinking “Thank fucking God” to that one), but I’m open to continuing if there’s ideas for what you’d want to have covered? Slide into the DMs or @ me on twitter with your ideas.
None of us at The Post get paid, but we all do this because we love building out the fan culture and starting the conversations in the fanbase that keep us all sane. We couldn’t do it without you reading, clicking and sharing the content online. So thanks. We appreciate you all.
Well, we appreciate some of you. The others can fuck off. You know who you are.
THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT NEXT SEASON WITH CHRIS ALBRIGHT
It’s called “Episode 4: A New Hope.”
Anyway, that’s it for this week. See you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome.