En las buenas y las malas

Lindsay Una #cf97 Fire Supporters

via Lindsay Eanet of Second City Social Club

In most years, supporting the Chicago Fire is an escape for my wife and our friends and I, where we can channel whatever’s bothering us into singing until our throats go raw, planning elaborate tailgates for our friends & even traveling across oceans to cheer on the Men in Red. It was something to look forward to.

Lindsay Una #cf97 Fire Supporters

But this season, like everything else, the ugliness of the greater world is reflected in the sports team we love—racial profiling, leadership that shirks accountability, transparency & good-faith negotiation & a failure to address real problems in any meaningful or sustainable way. As a result, we haven’t set foot inside Toyota Park since June, and are not renewing our season tickets (petition here). What was once silly fun is now frustrating & infuriating &, yes, inevitably politicized. (Nothing is ever just about sports.)

But what’s remarkable to me is that the good & redemptive in the world right now is also reflected in the Fire supporter community’s response to various administrative failings.

Groups with different support praxes & opinions have come together to show up for each other & unite behind their fellow supporters affected by the vague, discriminatory ban of Section 101. La Banda de Sector Latino is still making music & generating electric energy wherever they watch their club.

People are still building community & doing good—Marty’s #FireForFood fundraiser crushed its goal and raised thousands for hungry Chicagoans in need. Our (Second City Social Club’s) own partnership with Logan’s Squares through #SupportYourLocal & #GivingForGoals supported all kinds of great local causes. Jake & Phil launched Black Fires, a new group to build community, visibility & culture among Black soccer supporters in our city. And there are people like Nicole who still tirelessly show up & try to make shit happen en las buenas y las malas. Mad Javier is still in the North Lot ready with enough carnitas to feed a small army & a cooler of piña coladas to wash it down.

There is so much love & support in this small but mad community, even in the worst of it, & I’m proud to see what the people in it have accomplished this year, & will continue to do. It’s a reminder that there are reasons not to give up on whatever this is, even when the future feels uncertain.

I joke a lot about how the world is a trashfire & how the Fire are dead to us, but that’s only somewhat true. Even in the worst of times, there are still people organizing & building & bringing coolers full of piña coladas. There are still good things worth saving & reasons to act, whether it’s for your silly sports team or something much nobler, or much more urgent. Keep going. En las buenas y las malas.

I most likely won’t be at Toyota Park for the season closer this Sunday, but big love to everyone demanding better of this club in the manner they see fit. Vámos Chicago.

The Burning Black Fire

Written by Director of Communications, Jake Payne

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.

Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire defender) and Jake Payne (Section 8 Chicago’s 2018 Director of Communications)

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.

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