“Anonymous said…”“No self-respecting Portlander will EVER cheer for Seattle Sounders. They may attend a match to watch Beckham or root against Seattle with the opposing fans. The Timbers have a strong identity in Portland and the very heated rivalry goes back to NASL days.”
I lifted that from the comments on du Nord’s main post from yesterday. Call the screed below a reaction to several lines of thinking in that comment: what it is to be “a self-respecting Portlander,” what it is to be a soccer fan, and so on. This post has been a long time coming, something I’ve sat on because I didn’t want to listen to any kind of aftermath. The bile contained in it grows from swallowing the irritation of reading the silly shit inherent in the “true supporter” mentality.
Contrary to anonymous’ comment, I’m a self-respecting Portlander and I will be cheering for the MLS Seattle Sounders. And I’ll be cheering for the Timbers. Different teams, different divisions: let’s drop the sad pretense we’re dealing with Liverpool and Everton.
Maybe I should describe myself as a “self-loathing Portlander.” The thing is, I’ve lived in both Seattle and Portland and wound up in Portland because I like it better…or I used to. Time was, I had more fun in Portland, the beer was cheaper, and, for a while anyway, the people who lived here seemed a whole lot less into themselves and less eager to celebrate their choices. They lived here and got on with it. The beer is still cheaper, but the rest has changed. One indicator for that: “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers; if you have to keep reminding yourself to “be weird,” chances are you’re entirely normal, in spite of your “creative class” job.
Yeah, I’m also a transplant. Big deal. I’m guessing “anonymous” and a damn big chunk of the Timbers Army are transplants as well. Have I measured that? Nope. Just running the averages: a huge general transplant percentage in Portland probably equals a huge general transplant percentage in the Timbers Army. What’s my point? I don’t get how people get so hopped up on their “Portlandness,” how they embrace it so fervently when, like me, they’re transplants. I’ve lived in the wet side of the Northwest since 1989, excluding a four-year sojourn to the East Coast – and I’ve never had the urge actually mate with my city. Maybe these people want and/or expect more from their city. And, here especially, there’s this suffocating sense of Portland, once a city, now an identity.
The truly mysterious thing to me: not a whole lot really separates the two cities – certainly, the people don’t. I used to think Portland occupied a higher rung in Yuppie Hell, but I think it’s starting to drift down the rungs to meet Seattle. The fans do seem to hate each other – and I can only call that a mystery. That’s not to say, the rivalry isn’t fun – it is – but to take it seriously…I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a function of that weird inferiority complex Portland has always seemed to cart around, this ridiculous chip on its shoulder about being the “junior city.” I saw much the same thing between Boston and NYC when I lived in the former – and, yeah, I do find my preference for “second cities” a little peculiar…probably grows from a general desire for being outside the loop. Maybe it’s simple misanthropy.
With all that off my chest – whew! (and I’m waiting on the angry rebuttals) – the main thing is, I agree with most of what Portland fans seem to want. If an MLS club comes to Portland, they should play in PGE Park or another downtown facility – check. The Timbers’ Army sings at games and they liven up PGE Park – and I appreciate that, down to the foul language it foists on my kids (better learn it there than somewhere unsavory, I figure). And based on what I’ve seen, they’re a more boisterous supporters group than Seattle’s – check, so far as I find that interesting or important (not far). I should like a Portland soccer team more than a Seattle one – check.
So, I’m a card-carrying Portland fan…except for that whole thing about hating Seattle. I’ll readily root for a Seattle team provided, 1) they don’t play in the same division as a Portland team, and, 2) they’re not playing against the Timbers in whatever capacity. But week in, week out, what the fuck does it matter that I pull for a Seattle MLS team? In what way does this diminish a Portland team? When, or even if, an MLS team moves to Seattle, I’ll keep going to Portland Timbers’ games; when they meet in the U.S. Open Cup – assuming that tournament doesn’t go poof under the current pressures – I’ll pull even harder to Portland over Seattle. If Portland gets an MLS team, great, I’ll keep pulling for Portland…unless I move…then, who knows what?
Clearly, I can just ignore what anonymous wrote and just get on my life, right? So, why do I let it get up my ass? I don’t know. I guess it’s just the strong-arm, almost Bushian thinking anonymous’ statement and “true fandom” too often embodies: if you’re not with us, you’re with the enemy. Maybe I can’t stand being told what to think when what I’m being told is asinine. We’re talking about watching a bunch of dudes playing a game. They’re not our personal friends, we don’t have to pay Seattle tribute when we lose, they don’t charge down from the North and steal our virgins. They win or we win; both sets of fans go home and get drunk.
Filed under: expansion, Major League Soccer, Portland Timbers, Seattle, Seattle Sounders | 42 Comments »