I very vividly remember a time during the tailgate of a Chicago Fire game where I was standing in line for some tacos. I turned around when someone said “HEY” really loudly and I turned to see a white and black guy smiling at me.
The white guy said,”Look there’s the other black fan!”
The black fan and I laughed about it, shook hands, and that was about it. I don’t even think we got each other’s name.
Why did that short moment stick with me?
I love the Chicago Fire and the community that surrounds it. Some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met have been at Fire games. However, it doesn’t change that there was more truth than a joke in that statement. In my time of being a Fire fan, I’ve only met three other black fans in an entire stadium of people. It’s disappointing considering how global the game is and how much soccer is apart of so many different cultures. It might be hard to understand why this is a big deal. That’s something maybe we as a country don’t do enough of, understanding. So it might help to understand how the current fan atmosphere can make it difficult for other black fans.
It’s similar to being an away fan, where you are constantly aware that you’re different, but you have pride that’s shared with the people around you. Except for us, there are not many people to share that pride within the supporters sections. I feel that Chicago has a huge opportunity to help that pride be celebrated with the Fire in a way that other leagues can’t, no other sport has the celebration of pride and culture like soccer. You can see it on constant display in banners and two poles, involving black fans in the celebration would mean the world and would be another way of preserving a culture. The city of Chicago is already so segregated, neighborhoods changing by the month, people’s cultures vanishing or being underappreciated, crystallizing that black culture into a supporters history that has proven to withstand time gives another chance to keep what is there. You can see that in the Polish influences that are ever present in Chicago Fire culture, and for other teams German and British influence. Sector Latino celebrates their own culture. I really haven’t seen that celebration anywhere for black fans.
This week, the Section 8 Chicago community suffered a heartbreaking loss. We have sadly lost a long-time Chicago Fire supporter, Armando Chapa, who was friends with countless other Fire fans.
We also sorrowfully received news that Fire supporter Suzanne Ryan lost her son Lochlainn Ryan this week. Suzanne has brought kindness and warmth to our community, and our love and sympathy is with her.
This is not the first time our community has faced adversity. We, of course, come together in good times, but what is more notable is how we unite when one of our own faces tragedy. Nicole Hack (S8C Director of Communications 2015-16) speaks of her own experience when facing the loss of her father, “The support and love I received from the Section 8 Chicago community since 2010 when my dad passed has been refreshing. I’m forever thankful for the comfort other Fire supporters (my Fire fam) shared with my family and me over the years.”
As we remember Armando and Lochlainn, we also remember those we have lost before them – Dan Parry, Brandon Kitchens, Euan McLean, Al Hack, Lauren Bovis, and others. Like the support the Hack family received, we hope that we can provide similar care to those who are currently grieving over the loss of a loved one.
During this heartbreaking time, we stand together. We embrace those who need us. We will always rise above.
“Shame. Shame. Shame.” For followers of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, those words recall the scene of Cersei Lannister’s walk of atonement. But on May 13, when the Chicago Fire hosted the Seattle Sounders, those in attendance sporting neon green apparel found themselves being the ones shamed.
If you happened to be at Saturday’s tailgate, you probably saw a bearded individual dressed as what looked like a nun following around Seattle away supporters, ringing a bell, and chanting “shame” at them. Their crime? Being a Sounders fan, of course.
A long-time Fire supporter took it upon himself to don Game of Thrones-inspired apparel and recreate the scene at Toyota Park. That is, publicly shaming those wearing the opposing colors. And few were safe from being shamed for their decision to support the Sounders side. Needless to say, Fire fans and followers of HBO’s hit show alike reveled in the display. And after the Fire beat Seattle 4-1, well, it can be assumed Sounders fans had to feel some post-match shame.
It may be April, but as fans, we know the grind to make the playoffs in MLS. I’ve long hated the Revolution. It was a rivalry built out of failures by the Fire. Knocked out by the Revs 3 straight years, 2005-2007, in the playoffs was heartbreaking. I was lucky enough to witness the 2007 match in New England with a group of 30. Taylor Twellman’s bicycle kick happened right in front of us to secure the winner. Paolo Wanchope’s leap over the Revs bench to get a ball out of bounds for a throw in also happened right in front of us. I reckon it was the most inspired thing he did while wearing a Fire jersey.
The Fire got their revenge in 2008 winning on aggregate 3-0 in Eastern Conference semi-finals, but the game really sticks out for me is the second leg of the 2009 Eastern Conference semi-finals. Down 2-1 after the first leg, the Fire came up with a truly famous victory.
Last year’s U.S. Open Cup semi-final loss in New England re-ignited that rivalry for myself. 50 of us travelled out to Foxborough on Tuesday night to watch the Fire lose, and for some it was their 4th time watching the Fire get eliminated in a competition in New England. It was my second time.
I fucking hate the Revolution, plain and simple. I hope to see new and old faces out there on Saturday. Grab your tickets here.