Having spent the last 48 hours or so exploding my Twitter feed asking anyone and everyone to promote the Keep D.C. United movement, I decided to to write a post about what has made me so passionate, both about this team and about the Keep D.C. United movement.
Three and a half years ago, I had never been to a soccer match. I was brought into the fold by a colleague and immediately realized that I had been missing out on something huge. For 90 minutes, I learned to live and die with every touch, every foul, and every shot. I learned to scream my heart out, even if it meant sounding like I'd been hit by a train the next day. I learned to celebrate in victory and agonize in defeat. I also learned that soccer is a great way to meet people and make lasting friendships locally, across the country, and abroad. Most of all though, I learned that soccer has a huge, passionate following comprised of great people here in the greater D.C. metropolitan area. These people not only love the club, but they love the District.
This team is more than just a club, it's a part of the D.C. identity. United brings people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all races, and brings out the true passion that lies within them. D.C. United fans cheer, make banners, sing songs, and bang drums inside the stadium. Even more amazing is the amount of charitable giving that goes on outside of the stadium. United For D.C. and United's Supporters' Groups give back countless hours and dollars to make a difference in the greater Washington area and bring the sport to new audiences. D.C. United isn't just a team, or a badge, or a stadium, or trophies. D.C. United is a holistic experience that adds a unique flavor to the District's rich cultural tapestry.
Without United, D.C. loses. D.C. loses a storied club with cheering crowds and passionate fans, but D.C. also loses money currently streaming into the local economy through parking, Metro, restaurants, bars, and (most recently) food trucks. D.C. loses the spending that United fans are currently providing to local small businesses. Even worse, D.C. loses the potential for growth presented in every city lucky enough to have professional soccer, the country's fastest-growing sport, whose attendance is outpacing both the NBA and NHL.
It's hard to have the same kind of passion when talking about another place, even if it's still Benny Olsen's Eleven. D.C. United is woven into the fabric of the city, and a United anywhere else just wouldn't have the same appeal. Even a "rebranded" United just won't have the same history and the same connection to the community.
We can make a difference, or at least I have to believe we can or I'll go insane. If you haven't yet, the Keep D.C. United movement has a petition you need to sign right now. Everyone and their brother should sign the petition; it takes about five seconds and is a good way to show broad support. Then, after you've signed the petition, you have to realize that you have taken only the first very small step in a much larger journey if you want to make a real difference. What the movement really needs is for you to take offline action by contacting the Mayor and the DC Council by phone or in person to let them know you stand with D.C. United. Emails and online petitions are great, but they’re easy for elected officials to delete and forget about. The real difference comes from having a live conversation with a real person. Keep an eye on the Keep D.C. United Facebook and Twitter for more updates and news in the coming days.
We can do this. We have the best fan base in the league with the most passionate, enthusiastic, and motivated people ready to do whatever it takes to keep our team in our city. So let's go! Vamos!
Keep D.C. United!