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S.O.B. - The S Stands for Silence

Photo: Posted by the Sons of Ben social media team on 7/6/24.

As I mentioned in a recent article, I haven't had much time for the Union lately. Typically, I write up a Match Preview on Saturday mornings, but my day-to-day has become chaotic. With that said, the social media outburst from the Union fans caught my attention, and I knew I had to make time to write something.

The Union have plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and each week they find new ways to lose. Rightfully so, the fans are fed up. We are watching other clubs as they improve their roster and spend to compete, while we are selling our best striker, loaning out players, and trotting out Union II starters onto our bench. It's laughable and embarassing. So, what do fans do in a time like this? We protest and make our voices heard. We call to our Leaders in the Sons of Ben to be that voice and show the ownership that we've had enough. Unfortunately, our Supporters Group presented their idea today and didn't get the response they were hoping for.

First, the SOB posted a poorly designed and hard to read graphic discussing their plan. It is the cover of this article, but for convenience, I've shared it below. Yes, take out your glasses and magnifying glass, because I couldn't read it either.

The fans not only voiced their displeasure about the message, but about the hard-to-read design they chose to publish. In good ole friendly fashion, the SOB twitter account posted a sassy little tweet with a PDF file to help those who were struggling. Although this tweet has since been deleted (I wonder why), a second tweet with the same document was shared. I've also provided that tweet below.

Finally, Jared, the Head Capo for the Sons of Ben, laid out the plan for fans to follow. I've shared his full message below, but in short: Fans are to stay silent for 5 minutes.

Yes, 5 minutes. 5 minutes of silence to encapsulate months and years of frustration. 5 minutes that will really "stick it to the man". Needless to say, fans are UPSET. They're upset because it's not enough. Now, from knowing Sons of Ben members involved in this decision (and all decisions), I know there's a lot that goes into any form of act. The Sons of Ben want to maintain a positive relationship with the club, but it doesn't really feel like that's a two way street anymore, does it? Ownership, but mainly Sugarman, has lost the support of many fans. If he and the owners will not spend, then sell the team to someone who will. We are sick of pouring our hard earned money into a club that doesn't want to spend on themselves. Next, how about Union Yards? The organization shifted the Sons of Ben out of their long-standing parking lot, and then opened up a fancy bar to compete with them. Again I ask, is this relationship a two-way street? It doesn't seem like it to me, and many fans would agree.

To go back to my original point: it's not enough. If you follow me on Twitter (Mbarrera1323), you may have seen my Thread regarding the Sons of Ben and The River End. I'll share it below so as to not repeat myself, but the point I make is that this fanbase isn't loud enough to begin with. There have been several matches where the River End is silent, and 5 minutes of silence will go mostly unnoticed. We aren't like Cincinnati or LAFC who have a roaring Supporter's section for 90 minutes. Instead, we have a small collection of trying capos, and a large collection of fans who stand quietly. A large collection of fans who don't know or like the chants, and who are only in TRE because it's cheaper.

So, what's the solution? I'm not entirely sure, but the plan in place today is far from it. The Members of the Sons of Ben can't be afraid of the consequences. They can't be afraid of upsetting the Club or players. They have the upperhand when it's all said and done. They are the group that started this franchise and they have every right to voice their displeasure. Furthermore, they are the voice of the fans. Today, dozens of fans stated that the "protest" wasn't good enough, and instead of listening, the Elected Members of the SOB fired back with attitude and will continue with their plan. This protest will likely be ignored by the Club, and will be unseen by the surrounding sections who won't even be in their seats yet by the time the silence is over.

The reality is, silence is not the answer. Even if the staidum is sold out, and 19,000 people sat quietly for 90 minutes, Sugarman still gets what he wanted. Tickets, concessions, and merchandise being sold, regardless of how well the team is playing, or how much he spends on the roster.

Today, we have a rivalry match. The stadium will be filled and ready for a competitive game. As of 2023, the Sons of Ben had roughly 1700-2000 members (I do not know the 2024 numbers yet). Today, they have a chance to shift that number. They can continue with their 5 minutes of silence and ignore the disgruntled fans, and in turn, potentially lose members who are unsatisfied with the Supporter's group and their inability to be heard. They can also change their approach, create chants against ownership, or present a tifo and signs that can be seen by fans, Sugarman, and the League. This is their chance to rally the fans together and do something drastic, just like they did in 2015. There's a reason why we all remember this photo so fondly.

Photo: Barry Evans and via Brotherly Game.

I love the Union. I may be a "member of the media", but I am a fan first, and have been since 2012. Fans ask the media to call out the Club when they aren't performing as they should. The same should be done with the Sons of Ben. I am speaking for some when I say that we want more to be done today. Maybe this might ruffle some feathers, but change can only come from accountability and communication.

Ad Finem Fidelis - Faithful to the End

Mike Barrera

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