Photo: Earl Gardner
There’s been a righteous push over the last year for fans and teams to lead the way in killing off the well-known goal-kick expletive that echoes whenever a Mexican team plays.
While the homophobic slur has crept into MLS usage, the slightly less offensive, MLS-entrenched YSA chant is held in similarly low regard. Most of the measures that have been proposed to deal with offensive chants, while well-intentioned, are hammers in search of a nail. They take the Debbie Downer “policy or penalty” approach.
But you can’t legislate these things out of existence because, if you did, you’d have to eject entire sections for chanting “Hey ref, suck my balls,” or for singing the X-rated version of “No One Likes Us.”
There is a much better approach and my brothers, sisters and erstwhile nieces, nephews and grandkids in the Sons of Ben are uniquely positioned to set a national, MLS-wide trend: Tactical Chants that accomplish a purpose.
True story: Cliff of Union Despair/Union Bible/Darth Harvey, his brother and I were once at a minor league baseball game, sitting behind home plate, and we took it upon ourselves to render a visiting team’s batter impotent. At first, when he came to bat, we would time a yell right after the pitcher released the ball and it seemed to work. Then we started getting creative with some well-crafted jibes. Finally, as he comes to bat in the 9th inning with 2 out and the tying run on base, CUD/UB/DH and his brother started singing out: “We’re dancing around in your head.” With the count 3 & 2, I shouted out “Last Pitch.” It was game over. Poor sap never had a chance.
Now consider the homophobic or YSA slurs. What do they accomplish? Do you think that anyone on the field, much less the opposing goalkeeper is hurt, or offended, or distracted or disrupted in the action of sending a goalkick downfield?
It’s a waste of verbal energy. The mawkish bellow might satisfy some primal urge of the semi-inebriated to denigrate someone’s personhood. But from a tactical sense, it’s just plain stupid. Heck, it’s even expected.
Instead, a well-timed, percussive bellow (think Icelandic), universally issued two steps before a GK or Corner Kicker strikes the ball, especially from the River End, might distract the kicker enough to throw him off. Or, instead of YSA, everyone could yell “LOOK OUT!!!” just before the GK kicks. Capos could easily coordinate the yell.
Or maybe a rhythmic, subliminal chant as the kicker prepares to address the ball:
“You’re gonna miss the ball, you’re gonna miss the ball, You’ll slip and fall and have to crawl. You’re gonna to miss the ball.”
You could even alternate all three tactical yells, chants, or add more for variety.
Or instead of booing the corner kicker, which everybody does and all opposing teams expect, get the whole River End laughing derisively.
Do the unexpected, the original. Be purposeful and tactical. Dance around in our opponents’ heads. With enough of these verbal tactics at the ready, profanity will be unnecessary, if not wholly eliminated.
The SOB’s can take the lead and show everyone how supporters can make a tactical difference during the game. SOB Capos: Take after our patron Ben – be inventive and tactical.
Author’s note: This article was written before the Union’s recent run of subpar form. It should be noted that the YSA chant has been almost inaudible at Talen so far this year, and that speaks well of the fans here. And the SOB capos labored mightily to rally the River End last Saturday, against all odds and reason. Kudos to them. Consider the ideas herein as tactics to be leveraged when the U become more worthy of their supporters’ ardor.