Greetings from the confines of my comfortable apartment located somewhere between a corn field and a plot of land covered by cows.
While we’re already moving towards November at a rapid pace, a small part of me is still trying to wrap my head around the past year of absolute insanity. I think at this point, in the women’s soccer world, from my perspective I’ve seen just about anything and everything that could be encompassed within the confines of this specific sport.
However, instead of rambling on the past, thinking of the odd story itself, the primary thought in this message is a simple thought that I had while heading down the highway: Club vs Nation
One of my harsh lessons that I’ve learned this past year is that some people will call the sport football and others will call it soccer; that’s just the way life works, and I am not destined to even attempt at changing it. It’ll always be soccer in my mind, it’ll always be advertised as such in the United States, and believe it or not…accepting this realization has assisted in me being able to sleep at night.
With that said, there is something along these lines that still eats at me. The word club.
I’m just not a fan of it; never have been, but lately it’s really been eating at me. The terminology of club just gives me the wrong appearance, and the wrong thought [I swear I’m the only one that thinks this, even my wife looked at me strangely about the topic].
When I hear club I immediately think of two things:
- No girls allowed
In each example, the thought is simple. Whenever the term club is used it gives off a sense of entitlement and exclusivity. Meaning, that not everyone can be part the club but only a select few who:
- Know the right people
- Pay the right amount of money
- Conduct the correct amount of works
The reality is, from the original context, a club isn’t designed for everyone.
Someone will be left out.
I think that’s where the “cringe factor” steps in for me. I’m not sure, maybe I’m that cheesy, but I can’t necessarily rationalize why anyone should be ‘left out’ of a global game. Goodness, let’s use my experience in Guatemala last summer as an example. The overwhelming majority of that country despises Real Madrid; I mean hates that program. This is primarily due to the political and financial influence of the club. It’s a belief that Real isn’t necessarily a ‘every day person’ kind club. On the flip side Guatemalan’s are insanely dedicated to Barcelona; they live and breathe that program. Their dedication lies with the program that they believe reaches outside of the normal realm of soccer fans. It goes beyond the dollar, and directly to the heart. They believe, even thousands of miles away, that they belong to something greater.
When I take the information from Guatemala and explore the strange ideology that is American soccer, I see similar levels or lines forming. People are taking sides, and soccer in the United States, whether we wish to admit it or not is made up of a bunch of “have” and “have-not’s”. You’re either a part of the club or you’re not [especially when the club comes at a price].
More of this concept was witnessed today while I was speaking to the president of a local recreation soccer organization. This program is located nearly fifty miles north of the Kansas City, Missouri metro area. It would include a town that is, indeed, surrounded by cornfield and where American football is a religion; not a thought. To put this club mindset into perspective; there hasn’t been a premier program that has taken the time to reach out to this organization to assist with training, coaching, or anything of the like. Why? I don’t know, but I do know one of the reasons: lack of return on investments. In a world where a standard youth system seasonal fee can stretch easily between $2,000 and $4,000 (USD) per player; there are players within this recreational group that have scholarships because their family can’t afford the $50 a season fee. Yes, $50 (USD) a season, and people can’t afford that.
Would they ever be welcomed into a club?
Again, I don’t know the exact answer, only the opinion that’s formed in my head. The likelihood is that if there was a set perimeter to meet to be accepted; even I would most definitely be turned away.
Along with this random thought [OPINION], one would have to ask the question,
If you don’t like the concept of a club, then what would you do that’s different?
I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to complain/criticize a train of thought that is commonly practiced; you should have your own alternative ready for display.
This would be the case of introducing a different term: nation.
Understand that I get it, I really do, there are programs internationally and domestically that thoroughly love to use the “F.C.” next to their name. That’s cool and fine; something I’d never do with our program, but to each their own of course. Really, I cry out about the word club more out of the American soccer practice within the public than the actual terminology itself. The same can be said about introducing the term nation. I’m not naming the organization Kansas City Shock Nation [though that is kind of cool], but don’t think for a moment that I wouldn’t refer to our fan base, our followers, our community as the Shock Nation.
Perhaps it is my political tendencies getting the best of me, but the term nation, at least from my end of the pond, represents a unification of everyone, from every walk of life. Equality of the fact that all people should be given the opportunity to be great. That doesn’t necessarily mean that one should always follow the standard procedures of technicalities and tradition. Example; what happens if I’m speaking at a gala for all the season ticket holds of the Kansas City Shock. Do I wear a suit and tie? Why? Do I wear jeans? A sleeveless t-shirt? Tattoos? Where are the rules that dictate how individuals should work and operate along the confinements of soccer? Does the Kansas City Shock sell scarves? No. Why? We play in the summer! It doesn’t make sense when the same loyalty can be displayed through tanks, hats, and other apparel that fit the unique structure of the environment that we exist in.
Couldn’t a program do the same when understanding the fan base? If I were to term the phrase Shock Nation instead of Shock F.C. or F.C. Northland (random I know) could it reach out on a term that is more familiar to more people with the central area of our marketing grasp? These are questions I ask because I believe that we’re at a time where standard ideologies of times past should be challenged. It was already challenged when women’s soccer was introduced at a premier and professional level. Why not take it to a new level with its stage of evolution.
Where are the rules that state how an organization must operate? Show me the information that states that Nike and Adidas are the supreme rulers of all things trendy, explain to me why argyle is even remotely humored as being fashionable, and will someone PLEASE define why a team that plays in 105 degree heat is selling scarves to the public at $20-$30 a piece? Why? What’s the point? The customers, fans, many of them in my next woods don’t understand and don’t care. Yes, there are large pockets of followers within the confines of Kansas City that attach themselves to the way of the European model, but the program I was visiting today? The only scarves they have are camouflage, worn during November while they’re out in the wilderness during deer season. It isn’t attractive to them, so instead of trying to educate them in the ways that once were, why not adjust our model to what they understand as what is?
Club’s will forever be a part of the unique soccer culture in both the United States as well with the rest of the world; I respect this. However, among the pressure that ensues on what the ‘standard program’ is expected to do in order to fill the role of a community form of entertainment…well…myself and the Kansas City Shock will take the road less traveled.
There will be beer, American made. There will be cowboy hats, steampunk, and random fashion attempt that make no sense. There won’t be scarves, but they’ll be DUB music throughout our fans ears. We will be loud, we will be known, we’ll rewrite the rules and carry on.
To the pioneers that paved the way for programs like ours to be successful here and abroad; I tip my hat to you in humble humility. However, please forgive me if I put the simple notion, term, word club to rest in our program. In turn, with that allowance I invite you, each of you, regardless of your background, understanding, and knowledge of the beautiful game. I encourage to raise your glass, tip your hat, and lay your scarves aside.
We’re no longer a club, we’re no longer a product of entertainment. We are the Kansas City Shock, and each one of you, your body and soul, represents something new. A rebirth of new ideas and thoughts; you are welcome to be a part of this nation.
P.S. Check out my constant ramblings on Twitter (@CoachDaugherty) along with the constant adventures of the Kansas City Shock (@KansasCityShock)!