They're at it again, and I wish I could report that it's really, really, ridiculously good-looking.
Not content simply to let things play out as they ought, NYCFC are getting far ahead of themselves in their efforts to cultivate club and supporter culture.
Since our inception, it has been Hudson River Blue's position that footy culture and footy mythos don't become encoded via forcing the issue, despite the generally antsy desire to do so. Here are the HRB Commandments on this account:
- Club and supporter culture become official only with the sober passage of time. Pick any grand ol' team the world over-- their traditions didn't take hold due to a relatively narrow band of fan votes.
- Tifo responsibilities rest with the supporters alone. A club shouldn't make a banner and try pass it off as tifo.
- Unless you're Kobe Bryant, you are not allowed to give yourself a nickname.
That brings us to this week's fan survey from the interactive CITY VOICE online service, in which they asked for a nickname for its "12th Man":
One or two of these aren't terrible, but what sticks out here the most, besides the clear violation of every one of the HRB Commandments?
If we're going for a balls-out Zoolander reference – you'd have A HARD-ASS TIME convincing me that whoever posted this for CITY VOICE didn't see the comically obvious Stiller connection – how about a few of these nickname possibilities?
- "The Piano Key Neckties" -- Will Ferrell's diabolical Mugatu's claim to fame was inventing the original design
- "The Ballsteins" -- Ben Stiller's father, Jerry, portrayed modeling mogul Maury Ballstein in the film, who ends up saving the day with the help of a Zip disk. Yes, this stuff practically writes itself.
- "The Zip Disks" -- (See "Ballsteins, The")
- "The Orange Mocha Frappuccinos" -- Before all of his roommates die in a gasoline fire, Derek & co. treat themselves to the dubious limited-time offering at Starbucks. Delicious and exotic, just like New York.
- "Magnum" -- Not only does the film make it clear that Derek's "Magnum" face far surpasses "Blue Steel," but there's a solid association with Dirty Harry as well.
- "The Derek Zoolander Supporters' Section for Fans of a Team that Can't Conduct Outreach Good and Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good, Too"
We laugh, but this is a potentially damaging, definitely embarrassing development with no conceivable endgame in sight. I'm all for empowering the fans and making them feel like their voices are heard, especially to make up for lost time, but this isn't a vote on our favorite designs for the captain's armband. The overly hands-on curating from NYCFC on the nickname issue --likewise on the subject of goal celebrations, as included in a previous survey -- reflects a lack of experience and tact. Is this the best foot to put forward?
Think about it this way-- would New York Red Bulls fans tolerate this kind of funny business? Don't bet on it.
In the meantime, New York City fans should expect more of this worrisome jumping-of-the-gun from the new club. There will always be kinks to work out, but much of the current outreach effort is awfully unfortunate, and eye-rollingly so. My advice to the club is the same advice football coaches give to their players who might be considering a touchdown dance upon scoring:
Act like you've been there before.
Stay tuned to Hudson River Blue Steel for the very best in CITY VOICE hilarity.