I have yet to figure out how to add a byline to photo, let it be stated though that the beautiful photo above is from G. Newman Lowrance/Kansas City Wizards. If you are looking for a great photographer, click on his name to go to his website. You may also click the photo above to see a larger version. Thanks for the use of your photo.
I’ve been watching a few conversations play out recently in the comments here and on other sites. Some are self proclaimed “die-hards” who have decided that it is their job to determine who and what kind of fan is wanted at the games. The exact phrase was, “If you don’t want to drive the 15 minutes to get from your house in Olathe, we don’t want you anyway.” This was in response to another fan who is not part of the inner circle of Cauldron members expressing that he thinks Olathe/Overland Park would be a better location for the stadium. While CM and others are free to have any opinion they wish it got me thinking about a larger issue. Are KC Wizards “die-hards” the heart of the team or are the merely a pain in the butt? Do they draw people into the team or drive people away?
On the one hand it is the so called, “die-hards” who bring an amazing atmosphere of chanting and flags and confetti to the games each week. They log on to online forums and discuss the team all year long even when the biggest news is rumors of new players and what the new jerseys might look like. These are fans who will be at almost every game of the season including pre-season and Open Cup. My experience this past season is that their is a sense of passion for the game seen in the Argentines who marched in to the matches a few minutes late each game and filled the home side with genuine passion for the Wizards as they rhythmically bang drums and chant in a way I’ve never seen before. This along with the Cauldron weirdos who wear scarfs in the summer great hats and paint helps create an atmosphere of excitement from whistle to whistle. This sort of activity is seen in die-hard groups across MLS and increasingly in KC as well. But if what the die-hards bring to the game day experience were the only thing at stake I would not be asking the question in the title, Die-hards, heart of team or pain in the butt?
What I am thinking about is what the front office thinks of this often helpful, but high maintenance group of fans. I think the Cauldron has many good qualities as mentioned above. In my conversations with one of the founders, Sam, I can see that he is really all about the Wizards and that many others are as well. I also believe deep down that given a little change of attitude by a few jerks this group could be the community ambassadors of the Wizards wherever they live. However, currently many (not all) are simply whinny pains in the butt. I feel I am constantly reading someone complaining about the location of the cauldron, or the price of tickets to sit in the cauldron or them wanting know why the FO makes any decision without first consulting each member of Cauldron as though the FO were in business to build the biggest supporters group in the league rather than make money and win championships. In a sense, a group created to passionately support the team has turned its focus to passionately support itself and for this reason I can’t help, but think it has become a pain in the FO’s butt like someone struggling to keep his high maintenance girlfriend happy all the time. So what am I suggesting?
First I imagine many of you will get ticked off at me and tell me how stupid this site is and how you will never read it again followed by an explanation of how you wouldn’t let me join the Cauldron. Once you get that out of your system let me suggest a few things.
1. Put the team before the Cauldron. What I mean is quite asking for discounts simply because you are “die-hards.” Your money helps the team. Get there and chant, create the atmosphere, but make it genuine and organic like the Argentines. Love the team, love the game and quit whining about how the FO has treated you so poorly and needs to have everything approved by the Cauldron.
2. Quit being such jerks. When someone shares an opinion don’t jump all over him. They are obviously fans if they are posting on a blog that covers nothing but the Wizards. The key to MLS and the Wizards making it long term is to break into main stream culture. What I mean is for people who aren’t weirdos to love the team and follow the team and come to games and bring their families and friends. But who wants to bring anyone to hangout with a bunch of jerks. So simply stop being a jerk, this doesn’t apply to all. Let me add, the Dynamo have created an environment where crazies and normal people mix together with the crazies talking suburbanite fans into putting on paint and it has paid off as they have such a good time many return having been converted as crazies.
3. Take part in building the brand. Get out to community events, fund raisers, etc. Use your talents to create Wizards themed things. Good at graphics? make wallpapers, good a photography, take pictures and make them available to people to print. Good are painting? Paint something. Music your thing? Write a chant, make a fun song about the team/players. Can you write? Do so, I’ve made it clear in the past that I wish this blog to be community minded meaning, if you don’t want to start your own blog, but have something to say every so often submit it and I’ll post it here. Do stupid things that help promote the team. If you are good at finding news, I’d love to have someone post links to Wizards related news here on a regular basis. If that interest you, when you get over being ticked off let me let me know.
Finally, I am aware this is a complaint about complaining, guess I’m a hypocrite, but I mean for it to be constructive. To improve a group that has the potential to truly be The Heart of the Team.