FanPost

Some thoughts on American Outlaws, and the future of Organized National Team Support.

Jamie Sabau

Not to put too fine a point on it, but from where I sit, American Outlaws has ceased to exist as a credible and viable national-level organization. American Outlaws is now essentially a loosely-affiliated network of local chapters; those chapters being left to largely make their own decisions about how to support the US Men's and Women's national teams. What this means, of course, is there is no expectation that different chapters can and will cooperate, or even get along. While this is an unfortunate turn of events for developing a truly Unified and Strong nation-wide, organized national team Supporter Group, it will have VERY little effect on how such support will manifest at the local level.

Before I go on, let me take a moment to explain "where I sit." I have been a proud and active member of AO Seattle since late 2009, and took some pride in our local viewing events during the 2010 World Cup organized under founding AO Seattle president Colin Lamont. Most recently, I helped with creation and deployment of the tifo for the USA v Panama match, and was of course overjoyed with the tremendous show of support put together under the leadership of Shawn Wheeler, who served as AO Seattle president until he recently stepped down from that role.

With the USA v. Panama match, as well as some of my fellow AO members experiences at the Gold Cup match in Portland, it became clear that Seattle and Portland Supporters are willing and able to put aside their club rivalry to properly support the national teams. Therein lies the key, while most of us involved in AO Seattle are in fact also ECS members, the line between the two is self-evident and quite clear: Club Support is the domain of the TA and ECS, while National Team Support comes under the banner of American Outlaws. It is not very difficult to properly observe and respect this obvious distinction.

What has happened at the AO National level is beyond belated attempts at an apology. After a clear demonstration of incompetence, blog entries 3 days after the fact ring incredibly hollow. If this entire fire was indeed started by one bitter Crew "supporter" with a bone to pick and access to an SB Nation blog, then the ensuing conflagration ought to have been rather simple to contain. Instead, an alleged organization with the expressed intent to "Unite and Strengthen" only managed to alienate many once-proud AO members, and allow one of their chapter president's name to get drug through the mud for 2 weeks. What happened to Shawn Wheeler, is, by itself, enough to induce me to no longer associate me with AO as a national organization.

I do not speak for AO Seattle, but instead just write as a concerned local Supporter. I am quite sure that Seattle-area national team supporters will have no problem organizing local events under the AO Seattle name, keeping alive the clear, and necessary, distinction between club and national team support. I am quite sure that WHEN Seattle hosts the next Men's or Women's National Team match we will be able to work with other chapters to provide the level of support we have established for ourselves.

At the end of the day, I wish all AO chapters the best as we move forward - we are all supporting the same team with passion that none of us want to have questioned. From where I sit, any National Team Supporter is welcome at any future AO Seattle event.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.

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