Soccer….Family Style


Be Classy, Soccer Fans
November 10, 2016, 4:35 pm
Filed under: FIFA, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,
I wrote this blog post back in June, and I kept finding reasons not to publish it. As you’ll read in this post, I find it exhausting to be the one-woman clearing house for everything that’s wrong with soccer supporter culture, particularly related to American Outlaws. But today I feel like it HAS to be said. It scares me to go into US vs Mexico on the heels of a political campaign that was so contenious regarding women and immigrants. The way women (and minorities and immigrants) are treated matters to me, particularly in the soccer community. I’m asking all of you to do better for our collective soccer family.

*****

Last night I got the worst news, but at least it came from a friend. Here’s what was posted to my Facebook Timeline:

20160616_134412

Vindication is nice, but at the price of even one more woman’s suffering, it’s also horrible. The flood of emotion I felt staring at this post is pretty indescribable. So sad to hear that another woman was hurt. So relieved AO was FINALLY talking about it. Vindicated that even one person remembered that I talked about this so long ago. Let’s rewind…

In 2013, I reported to AO National in writing that at an AO LA Night Before an AO member who I had photos of had touched my breasts inappropriately and other women at the party had negative experiences with men, and that as a chapter leader, I felt it was important that we deal with the rise of sexism within AO in the interest of protecting all our members. I was told that if anything had really happened, I should have called the police. Which is pretty much THE WORST way an organization could respond to such a report. AO confirmed this was their response in the article by Fusion published March 2015.

I shared the letter I wrote to AO with a Facebook group of all women, asking them to please share their stories. What was meant as fact finding was seen as an attack on AO. I never wanted to attack AO. I was a chapter leader who felt deeply connected to my #AOFamily, but I’m also a mother, and I didn’t want anyone hurting another woman at an AO party, and I thought it was an important discussion to have in 2013. AO was growing fast, and I thought thing could mushroom out of control if we didn’t confront it. My attempts to start that discussion were taken by many as treasonous, and ever since then, I have faced an almost constant barrage of harassment from AO members and sympathizers.

  • A man in chapter leadership of AO Knoxville created Twitter accounts to harass me and release personal information about me. I reported it to AO National and never heard that they did anything to even speak to him, let alone public or private discipline.
  • Supporters from KC seem to have a particular taste for harassing me, one of them even approached my son at a game to try to intimidate him. Again, no response from AO, but I was able to get support from stadium ops in KC so I could feel safe bringing my kids there.
  • I attended the AO party in Canada last Summer after ensuring it was legal to bring my kids to the venue. This was the first event with #AOWatch, and @USAGunnerWalsh tweeted an image of my child at the bar and suggested we call DHS about there being a baby in a bar (which was really a restaurant, and she was in no harm, but hey! Like that matters to a Twitter troll). At this point, I’d lost all faith in AO and their watch, but a friend reported the incident for me with my permission. Neither he nor I ever heard from AO National.

That’s far from all the harassment I faced, but it’s the high points. When I wrote my memoir of following US Soccer for two decades and published it in 2014 my anti-Tanya hate peaked with accusations that I was trying to get rich off soccer fans (writing!! The path to the millionaire life!….said no one ever). It was not that I was hoping to get rich. I wrote a book about my love of soccer and soccer supporters, and I genuinely thought it was so closely tied to AO’s mission, that chapters could use my book in their recruitment (some did and had great events). When I asked National to support the book and back me up, they responded that they get hundreds of requests per year and they can’t support everyone. Really? Hundreds of requests from long time chapter leaders who have written in support of you in crisis? Once I reported my negative experience, I was persona non grata with AO, making it painful for me to read the now hypocritical #AOFamily hashtag ever again. But never quite so much as when I clicked the link posted on my FB and read this:

Screenshot_20160616-145017

That title. I was so happy they were FINALLY standing up for someone. You see, I’ve become the clearinghouse for everything that is wrong with AO. YOU MAY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ONE NEGATIVE THING WITH AO, because in reality, there are so many amazing, wonderful people in AO. But bad things happen, even at AO events. Given the publicity of my story, I’m now the person that gets sent every wrong thing AO does.

A girl gets roofied at an AO event in Portland and National does nothing. Message Tanya.

AO events fall short of family friendly. Message Tanya.

AO screws up a tifo in Chicago? Message Tanya (OK, that one was funny…but I didn’t share it because I really want us all to get along).

You may never have a negative experience at AO, but I hear about everyone’s bad days. It’s toxic on top of toxic for me. So imagine my rage as I read “Standing Up…”

“The safety of all our family, particularly our female members is paramount. This is the way it has always been. This is the way it will continue to be.

Even one incident is too many. Which is why we chose to address this immediately. Every member deserves to feel safe at our events.”

The way it has always been? Um, no. At best, it was the way you wanted it, but it’s not the way it’s been.

Address this immediately? I’ll let a comment from AO’s own page cover this one.

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When something like this happens to a woman, we should not have to wait for AO to get their messaging right. We should be informed immediately and updated as the situation develops.

This is a good start. I’ll say what I wish AO had said. To this woman, and every woman (or man) who has had a bad experience at an AO event, I am with you. I know the pain and betrayal of bad things happening within your AOFamily. I know how hard it is to keep doing the things you love when it just brings you back to a hurt place. I love you, and I am here for you. I am so deeply sorry this happened to you, and I’ll continue to do everything I can to keep it from happening to anyone ever again.

My defense of AO is to say that I’m not going to take the “told you so” bait. One experience is too much. The fact that their post should have come ANY TIME over the past three and a half years should not detract from the fact that they are doing it now. AO National are the soccer nerds who suddenly found themselves at the cool kids’ table, and they didn’t know how to deal with this stuff, but they’re learning, and we should give them the support to create the best possible environment for all soccer supporters.

Full disclosure, I left American Outlaws after my experience at the Canada World Cup. I just couldn’t stand by any longer. I am now working on building Sammers SC. At some in the past three years, Korey Donahoo said something about how AO couldn’t be everything for everyone. We are a big enough soccer family that there should be multiple groups. I want to be a part of that diversity, with no hard feelings to AO. I was Sam’s Army, I was AO, and now I’m Sammers SC…it’s all supporting US Soccer, and that’s what’s important.

It is my hope that we can meet in the bar of our choice in an environment that’s a positive experience for all, then join forces in the stands to create the best possible environment for our teams.

***

 



Last Minute Travel Tips for Brazil
I’m still working on my rewards and thank yous for all the love and support I got for my book on Kickstarter, but in short, I was amazed at the generosity people showed, not just funding my project, but making it happen on May 28th was especially wonderful. My book is now for sale in the real world, on Goodreads, Amazon, and a hundred other wonderful places. Please go ask for “Passionate Soccer Love” at your local bookstore, or at Beaverdale Books if you’re in central Iowa, or you can order paperback, hardcover, or e-book direct from the publisher at this link.
I wanted to post my travel group’s tips for Brazil to share as another thank you for all the book love. Thanks to Kaela of Local Kitchen for compiling most of this list.
COMMUNICATION
Download Viber and/or WhatsApp. If you rent a phone or get a new SIM card down there, make sure to announce yourself by text before you call someone: I, for one, don’t pick up unrecognized numbers, especially if doing so is going to cost me a fortune.
LANGUAGE
In my dealings with the locals over the past couple of months, I’ve found that very few people speak any English. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a Portuguese phrase book, or spend an hour or two on Babbel or Duolingo, just to get a few basics. If you have any kind of complicated situation – like say, you need to go from the airport to Pipa with a stop at a random shopping mall for FIFA tickets in between – I recommend that you type clear and simple directions into Google Translate, then print out the instructions in Portuguese and simply hand them over to your driver, hotel clerk, tour operator, etc.
HEALTH
For any prescription meds, it’s a good idea to snap a picture of your prescription details in case of lost/stolen bags (email to yourself to a web-based email). For OTC stuff, I recommend bringing [I, Tanya, second this recommendation…having pantomimed symptoms in several countries]:
-ibuprofen (not only for the standard reasons, but it can also stop a sunburn in its tracks)
-Benadryl and/or Claritin (if you are subject to seasonal allergies)
-band-aids & travel Neosporin (everything grows in the jungle: infection is a serious concern)
-moleskin or similar if you are prone to blisters (we’ll be doing a lot of walking)
-cough drops (singing, people. singing. I always forget them and wish that I hadn’t.)
-Immodium
-Tums
-Breathe Right strips (for snorers) + earplugs (for the rest of us)
-sunblock + bug spray (I’m bringing tiny bottles of each and will replenish down there)
-Yellow Fever vaccination card (you don’t need it, unle.ss things change…so bring it).
Don’t underestimate equatorial sun. Even the natives stay out of the sun mid-day. For Northern moles like ourselves, it’s going to take some adjustment. No heat stroke or 3rd-degree sunburns, please. [Also beware foreign drinking. Don’t assume drinks have the same alcohol content you’re used to, and know you’ll get drunk faster in the heat.]
PACKING
Two words: carry. on.
You don’t need half of the stuff you toss into a bag. You probably don’t need a third of it. Pack light: no one is going to want to wait for your giant suitcase to come through baggage claim, especially after we’ve been living out of a tiny 20-inch suitcase for a week or two. But seriously: do you actually trust the brand-spanking-new Natal airport not to lose your luggage? That the 4-times-normal flight volume in Brazil is not going to result in a high proportion of screw-ups? That you’ll ever see that luggage again once it disappears? Pack light. You’ll thank me later. Whatever you may wish you had brought can be bought there. Souvenirs! [I talked with my contact in Brazil tonight, you can pick up a duffel bag in Brazil for less than $50, so if you buy stuff down there, you can pick up an extra bag to bring it home.]
Essentials: other than game-day attire and the hot weather basics, I consider a long-sleeve shirt (lightweight UPF 30 is ideal) for sun + bug protection, a single pair of long pants (same reasons), and a shade/rain hat to be the only real “essentials.” It’s probably going to rain every day  –  for maybe an hour every afternoon – probably more in Manaus. So a light raincoat is a good idea. Comfortable shoes: you never remember how much walking, standing, jumping, running, and all around foot abuse happens on one of these trips until you’re in the middle of it, wishing you had brought your favorite sneakers. Bring them. And a pair of sandals/flip flops. And that’s it.
SAFETY
For those of you who didn’t see it on Facebook, I have a friend who is married to a Brazilian and they head back at least once a year to visit family. I asked her about the safety situation – this is what she had to say.
“Rio and Sao Paulo can be pretty dangerous. We stay on the beaten path and don’t wander too far off. I’ve been there 7 times and have never had any problems. I have seen people get jumped for their bikes in Belo Horizante. Normal precautions. Do not show your wealth. I have been told keep some “mugger’s” money in your pocket. So if you get mugged they don’t get mad. Do not carry a lot of cash. The ATMs close normally around 10 pm. for safety. There are some 24 hour ATMs but they come with a big charge. If you go to a bank do not take the candy because the candy wrappers tell people that you were just at the bank. Do not walk around by yourself late at night. During the day you should be ok and in the tourist areas you should be ok. It’s really only when you go away from them you have problems. Stay away from favelas (ghettos). Ignore people when they ask for change. Even the young kids – they can be setting you up. There will be a heavy police presence and the national army! I think just being a smart traveler is the most important thing.
The more serious crimes happen in the big cities. There have been hold ups at stop lights but this is not the norm. Again, don’t play the wealthy tourist!
The driving in Brazil is CRAZY! Between cars, overloaded trucks, motorcycles, bikes, horse and carts, and people walking on the same highways it can be an interesting excursion. It really is pretty funny! Brazilians are extremely aggressive drivers. They pass going up and down the sides of mountains crossing into the opposite lanes and will not move over to avoid a crash. You have to be a defensive but yet aggressive driver always looking for your escape path. But that being said it really is fun to drive in Brazil because of the mountains and the curves. That’s why they are always amongst the world leaders for formula 1 racing!
I have found that most Brazilians are extremely welcoming and gracious. They try to speak English. They like americans. I have not been to Natal, Recife, or Manaus. I’ve heard that Natal and Recife are beautiful.
Alex says be more concerned with the mosquitos since they carry dengue, malaria. Mosquito spray is more important (especially closer to the amazon) than a gun!”
So don’t be foolish. Leave the bling at home. Try not to carry too much cash at once, and carry it in separate bundles – in a pocket, in your wallet, tucked into your bag, etc. Don’t park a car with any visible stuff in it that might tempt a thief. Look grubby & poor: that shouldn’t be tough for us. 🙂
One thing I always do is photocopy my passport (+ visa page) and the front & back of credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card, etc. Make two copies and stash them in two different spots that are not my wallet. My wallet was stolen in France ’98: trust me, the photocopying is a very minor pain in the ass compared to trying to cancel all of your credit cards on the fly without having any of the phone or account numbers. You could also simply snap pictures with your phone and email the files to a web-based email that you can access anywhere.
[Tanya: I also recommend taking photos of your World Cup tickets as soon as they are in your hands. Our tickets were stolen in ’98, and the first thing the police wanted to know was our section, row, and seat number.]
Emergency Numbers in Brazil
National Emergency Services Telephone
Medical Emergency (ambulância) Tel: 192
Fire Service (Corpo de Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Federal Police (Polícia Federal) Tel: 194
Website
Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal) Tel: 191
State Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária do Estado) Tel: 198
São Paulo Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 197
Website
São Paulo Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 190
Website
Rio de Janeiro Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 197
Website
Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 190
Website
Sea Rescue (Salvamento Marítimo) Tel: (21) 2104 6119
email
Website

 

You can add your travel tips in the comments. Please go buy my book and enjoy reading it between matches, and thanks for all the support bringing it to fruition! Safe travels to everyone following their teams in Brazil this Summer, especially all you Yanks!



Calling All American Outlaws! Please Help Spread the “Passionate Soccer Love” Word!

Fellow American Outlaws,

I am releasing a book about supporter culture in the U.S. at the night before the June 1 Send Off match, and I’m asking for your help getting the word out about it. In return, I have a new tool to help grow your chapter. I wrote “Passionate Soccer Love” as a memoir of my love of US Soccer and the happiness I’ve found experiencing the explosion of growth in American supporter culture. I expected it to be well loved among soccer supporters (and it has been among my chapter members who got to read the preview). What I didn’t expect is the reaction among people with no connection to soccer. You don’t need to take my word for it. I’ve posted the feedback I’ve gotten so far on the book here.

Over the past three years, I’ve read chapters of my book in different writers groups and I worked with two editors who have no connection to soccer. Almost all of my non-soccer readers have started following soccer. My 70+ year old editor with no previous interest in soccer was discussing an article he’d read about Klinsmann’s 30 man roster. He said “I don’t even fully understand the words I’m saying, but I’m REALLY interested in this World Cup.” While I wrote the book to be readable to people who don’t know soccer, I didn’t expect it to have such a powerful effect on people.

Help me share my book and I’ll help your chapter spread the love of soccer. I need Kickstarter backers (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081588443/passionate-soccer-love-publishing-and-book-tour), you’ll need events after the World Cup to sustain the buzz created by the Cup. I have a couple ideas on how to make that happen:

Option 1: Have your chapter back one of the options to have me do an in-person or virtual book signing. I’ve lowered the prices on those events thanks to some private backing in an effort to make these events more reasonable.

Option 2: Share the Kickstarter with your chapter members and ask them to back the project with your chapter # tagged in the price. For instance, someone in my chapter (Des Moines #38) wanted to back at the $30 level, they would back for $30.38. I’ll do a virtual book signing for every chapter with at least 5 paper books copies backed. If you’d rather me come in person, we can work out an event for expenses only.

Option 3: You don’t need another event on your calendar, but you’re willing to share just for the good karma. Also very much appreciated.

Option 4: Reply with your better idea. I’m open to what you think works best for your chapter.

When the Kickstarter funds, I’ll do a drawing for a free signed copy among all chapters who participated as an extra thank you for your help getting the word out. I know the EASports event was great for our chapter for bringing in a whole new group of people, and I hope my book will allow having an event you can post at your local library or bookshop will do the same. If you need help writing the post or a tweet about the book, or if you have other questions, you can reach me at YourSocksHaveHoles at gmail.com.

 

Unite and Strengthen,

Tanya Keith

P.S. If you have a soccer team or other organization and you’d like to tailor an event like this for your group, please email me and we’ll get it set up!

P.P.S. Here’s a couple sample chapters for you to get you fired up

Sample Chapter 1

Sample Chapter 11



Columbus, Night Before
September 10, 2013, 3:43 am
Filed under: Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

My car got towed tonight. I’ve never been towed before, in twenty plus years, and I must tell you, it pretty much sucks. Particularly when there were no posted signs that I was parked in a tow zone, and the impound fee was $135.00 cash. Are you kidding me, Columbus? So I took photos of the completely faded out sign that once said “Tow Zone” and began to plot my revenge on all parties involved. Fortunately, I took a break to call my husband.

Here’s the cool thing about my husband: not only is he totally cool with me taking off a day early so I can hang out with all these crazy soccer fans here while he stays home to work an extra day and get the kids one more day of school, he’s also pretty great in a crisis. I texted: “My car was towed. $135. I’m pissed.” He wrote back “WTF?” I emailed a photo of the bogus sign, then called him. Now, he could have made me feel bad about not being more careful, (although seriously, the signage was TERRIBLE) or other things I’m sure husbands do every day of the week when their wives get towed.

But he didn’t. He asked “Well, how was the rest of your day?” I said “I dunno, it was good.” He pressed, “Tell me what happened.” So I told him about driving with our friend Ryan from AO Iowa City, and how we went to the pep rally and had got to see so many old friends. I told him that I finally got to meet Frankie Hejduk, one of my all time favorite players, and how cool Frankie was to talk to, in addition to his crazy antics on the stage with Allen Hopkins and Brian McBride. While in Seattle this Summer, we’d hung out with Allen and realized that one of his good friends from high school was one of our good friends from college. Somehow, knowing he was Sarah’s friend made it all the more silly for me, watching him try to get Hejduk to stop telling stories long enough to move the program along. And McBride, every time I looked at him, it was like a time machine back to the 2002 World Cup, watching him blow our minds with what the US might achieve. So cool to hear him speak, and watching him laughing with Frankie, standing up front with my Riot Girls Amy and Trista.

Then I told him about seeing Monty, Kaela, Andy, John, Tai, and so many others of our friends from the Korea and other trips at the first meetup of Sammers SC. Monty is starting Sammers SC as a new supporter club for grown ups. I don’t know where it will go, but they were tweeting about walkers and canes, but we’ll still out sing you at @SammersSC today, and that kinda cracked me up. Plus, I love seeing those guys.

Next, I told Doug, I went to the AO party, which was insanely packed and loud, but also full of all sorts of people I was excited to see. I got to introduce one of the AO LA guys who gave me a ride to AO Rally, to one of my favorite guys in his new state of residence, Minnesota. Neal, a Minnesota 1st Volunteer and traveling supporter, gave Richard some ideas on where he could watch games, and then they began discussing my honorary memberships in Minnesota 1st and AO LA, while a few friends from AO RVA walked by (another one of my honorary chapters).

I went outside and got a hug from Alexi Lalas, said hello to Grant Wahl, and talked to John Harkes. Rob Stone was there, and was very excited that I was from the Des Moines, Iowa chapter. He talked with me about Iowa vs Iowa State game that he’s covering next week. Charles Boehm came up to me, and said he liked my blog (is there anything better than I writer you like saying they like your writing? I don’t think so).

Then, to top it all off, as Rob Stone was walking out, he saw me, said “Des Moines,” hugged me, and said “You’re beautiful.”

Wait….scratch that. Because THEN, to top all that, Fran and Max showed up at my hotel as I was writing this post in the atrium. They brought ribs, which they got through some contrived story of how they helped a guy with a broken down rib truck. Max and I shared the ribs while we talked about AO, politics, and supporter culture. Such an excellent end to what was really a great day.

So, I’ve still got a $135 set back, but when you consider it as collateral for the amazing experiences I had hanging out with soccer fans, players, writers, bloggers, and broadcasters, it seems like a bargain. Thanks, Mr Tanya, for pointing that out to me. (But yeah, I’m still fighting that fee in the morning). For now, thanks for making my day awesome, soccer friends.



Everybody Just Calm Down
August 28, 2013, 9:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Really people? One poorly written piece written late at night by someone too pissed off to even get comments from anyone remotely important to the story is all it takes to take #AOFamily and turn it into mass hysteria? American Outlaws posted on their chapter leader page four days ago that they were looking for capos from any chapter that would offer them up. Do you think we could wait until they respond to SB Nation’s article before losing our minds? 



AO Des Moines is Getting a Scarf, and You Gotta Have It

Des-Moines-FinalWe’ve been talking it since we founded almost three years ago, and now, thanks to the design genius duo of AODSM members Trevor Kruger (@TkCyclone) and Greg Welch (@ArtDirectorBYU), we have our final design. All we need is YOU. Order up your very own AO DSM scarf and help us meet the order minimum. We want to have them for the upcoming games in Columbus and KC, so you have ONE WEEK! We’re taking orders until 8/6/13, and then it’s off the making them! Don’t delay! (Update: We extended to 8/9 to allow our email list a few days!)

Here’s how to order: Go to our order form here. Fill out you info. Chose your payment method. Pay us.

It’s that simple. Filling out the form and not paying will not get you a scarf. Payday isn’t until Friday? It’s $20….go ask a friend. If you’re truly in crisis, let us know, and we’ll try to help, but we really need paid pre-orders. Thanks for the help making our long held AO DSM scarf dreams a reality!



Why am I Headed to Iowa City? These Guys…
July 24, 2013, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture | Tags: ,

image

I have lots to post from my last minute trip to the Gold Cup match in Maryland, but first a heads up that I’ll be in Iowa City for the Honduras match tonight. Why would I stop there, instead of rushing home to the kiddos?

Well, for one, there was a fair amount of scotch involved in catching up with my high school classmate in Pittsburgh last night, and waking up two hours earlier than 7 am wasn’t going to happen. But really it’s because when I founded AO Des Moines August 30, 2010, I put in our application that I had a goal of supporting the start of an Eastern Iowa chapter. I’d had a few people express interest in Iowa City, but it never got off the ground.

Fast forward to the USMNT game in KC last October, where we were hanging out at the after bar. I got a tap on my shoulder and turn around to find three twenty-something guys looking at me with anticipation. They said “Are you Tanya from Des Moines? We were told we had to find you.” Like they were on a pilgrimage to find me. Totally awesome.

Justin, Nick, and Jason had met one of my AO RVA friends, and when he found out they were from Iowa, he sent them o a mission to find me, and hours later, here I was. Soccer is still enough of a big small town I guess. We talked US Soccer and AO, and after I pointed out that Herc was sitting a few tables over and they met him, they swore to me…nay…to Herc, that they were starting AO Iowa City.

These guys have been working really hard, and I think they ar really close to being full chapter. So now is the time, eastern Iowans. There are chapters of AO forming in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. If you want to tell your grandkids that you were a founding member of these chapters, it’s time to join up. Go to TheAmericanOutlaws.com and click Membership. Do it now.

Then come out and watch with me in Iowa City at 6 PM. It’s gonna be a great night! See you soon!

7/25/13 Update

AO IC exceeds expectation! They have a great bar with funny bartenders, good beer, and yummy food. And I know what you might be thinking….there goes Tanya, hanging out with college kids. But this was not a crowd of rowdy college kids (although that may change come August) but a gathering of graduate students, professionals, PhD candidates…a great group of smart, funny, people. Get over there and check it out. And if you want to be on the Founding Member bandwagon, now’s the time to jump! Thanks to the three new people that signed up last night, full chapter inches ever closer in Eastern IA.




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