“Every -ist and every -ism thrown my way.” Rayo OKC and the internet badlands.
What a piece of work is a man.
Of all the achievements in the history of humanity, the invention of the internet must rank up there near the top. The facilitation of communication, the free exchange of ideas and thoughts, the dissemination of knowledge, all at your fingertips. However, I can’t help but feel that maybe humanity would have been better served had Tim Berners Lee not thought “Oh, hang on, what if we connected all the computers in the world together in an easily workable system, a web perhaps?” and instead had thought, “Oh, hang on, I feel like having a bit of a sit down this afternoon. I’ll get the kettle on. Wonder what’s on TV?”
The internet, and specifically the anonymity it provides has created a monster. A cess pool of the basest traits of humanity, where rumor, accusation, gossip and outright lies can don the cloak of “fact” and walk freely amongst us. As my life coach would say: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Online political discourse is bad enough, but that is a high stakes game with money and power on the line; you kind of expect it to come with the territory. When the debate turns to second division local soccer it is downright insane.
So the majority owners of Rayo OKC stepped in recently and assumed direct control of the club. Was there a coup d’état? Did they execute anyone in the center circle? Did they paint all the signs over in Spanish? Did they even, as some are suggesting, take a wonderful, smooth running, perfect bastion of soccer excellence, and destroy it? No they didn’t. The club had problems, as all clubs do, and they have an opinion as to how to fix those problems in the quickest and most beneficial way. This isn’t a reflection on the previous management, this is, and you might want to prepare your world to be rocked here: HOW BUSINESS WORKS.
Of course I understand that some people are not happy. The previous management have very deep ties to the local community and a track record of success in various ventures. Many of the previous staff were just starting their professional careers and this is presumably a blow to their ambitions. I sincerely hope they can shake it off and go on to bigger and better things. Believe it or not, the new management would be the first to concede that maybe they didn’t handle the transition for the staff as well as they could have. But this is an at-will employment state. Nobody is guaranteed a job. No friendship connection should entitle you to a paycheck or buy your loyalty to a business. No track record is a guarantee of long term stability with an employer.
The self-ordained experts on social media, the ones who are texting and directly messaging me constantly with some new “fact” that they heard from their highly placed source who walks the dog of the lady who baked the cake for the son of the owner’s cousin at her wedding three years ago, who are gossiping and back biting behind the veil of anonymity, should consider what they say more carefully.
Because, Lord knows, most people aren’t going to look at the track records, skills or experience of the new management, here are some things to try instead:
When you want to criticize Rayo OKC replace their name with “My local team” and say the sentence out loud. Do you sound like a dick? If so, probably best not to post it for the world to see.
When you want to criticize Alberto Gallego, replace his name with “guy who moved here on a moment’s notice to try and help the club I love.” How does that sound to your ears now?
When you want to criticize the “Spanish,” replace that with “majority owners.” Do you sound less xenophobic now? To those who are publicly criticizing the owners for being Spanish I would also say this: the web you are using to do this was created by an Englishman.
Consider it another way if it helps. When Sandridge Energy laid off a large number of their workers over the past 18 months, did people go online and start rooting for them to fail? “Yeah, that Sandridge! I hope they go bust. I’ll just support Chesapeake; they are better anyway.” No, they didn’t. Because people would have thought they were lunatics.
When we have an ice storm and half the power lines in the state come down, do people go on twitter and post “Huh! Who do these Louisiana linemen think they are? Coming here, working all these hours to help our Oklahoma linemen get the power back on! We want local linemen or we will just sit in the dark!”
I went to a restaurant once and asked for a Coke. They said “Is Pepsi ok?” Instead of saying “sure, no problem,” or “Ok, I’ll have tea instead,” I did what any rational social media commentator would do. I immediately set my head on fire and live streamed it for the world to see in the hope that one day my grandchildren, yet unborn, would grow up, look through the family archives and see just how passionate I was about one particular sugary beverage because I know someone who works there. “Give me Coke or give me death!” I shouted as the flames danced around my crown, safe in the knowledge that I would never ever be embarrassed to be seen as the sort of person who did this. No, wait, I didn’t do that did I? Because I’m a sane human.
I am not for a moment claiming that the previous management and staff didn’t achieve amazing things; they most certainly did. Nor am I laboring under the assumption that the new management will wave a magic wand and lead us to domination of the NASL. What I am claiming is that writing posts pulling for the club to fail based on half-truths, personal vendetta’s, other people’s tweets, and what particular square foot on the surface of the earth some of them may have been born on, is embarrassing for the person who posts it, the state, the game of soccer that we all claim to love, and a grave disservice to the common good.
If you feel that the owners have done something wrong, you believe their vision to move forward is incorrect, you think local management is better by definition or you just don’t want Rayo OKC to exist because you don’t like them; that’s ok. I don’t have an issue with any of those statements or beliefs. But if you believe the best use of your time is to publicly judge them on three weeks’ work, while forgetting some things you yourself espoused three weeks and one day ago, then you are doing yourself a disservice. Those things that were said before, things like “the club is still so young,” “It’s just getting started,” “any club needs time to build a fan base and bed in to the community.” Remember them? Well to throw them aside and adopt a “The Spanish have had 20 minutes, why are we not league champions yet. See, I told you they were incompetent!” is just simple hypocrisy. If you genuinely feel that the actions of the owners have meant that you cannot in good conscience support the team anymore, then don’t. Nobody will judge you for standing on a principle. But if you devote yourself to pulling the club down, what exactly are you hoping to achieve?
The only way a team, business, group, organization, call it what you will, can ever be successful is with the support and patronage of the fans. Whatever form Rayo OKC takes, it will stand or fall on local support, and that is as true today as it was on the day the club was first announced.
Drive the new management away if you will, try to send the majority owners packing with their fancy ideas and funny names! But remember the fans of the club, the ones who buy the tickets and shirts. The ones who go on social media and follow the club. The ones who are excited that they can see professional soccer in this city. The ones who are so grateful for a couple of hours every weekend that they can root for the home team, chant and sing, throw some banter and forget about the hardships that so many in our state are currently suffering. Those fans? They are your friends and neighbors. Those thousands of workers laid off here in the past few years, you know a few of them I’m sure. You might even be one of them. Maybe they care about the club for reasons you haven’t considered? Your enthusiastic attempt to drive away someone you disagree with is hurting your fellow Oklahomans in more ways than you can possibly imagine.
I can’t go back in time to a chilly afternoon and see if Tim Berners Lee feels like setting down his pencil for a bit and heading off to the park for kick about instead of inventing the Web, but sometimes I wish I could.