#StarsForAll blog posts Democracy in Sports Editorials

Stars For All

February 23rd, 2017

By Stephanie Steiner

Sounders: You will have a star. Our team earned it, we will all be able to celebrate that championship authentically regardless of our size or gender. You matter. The star matters. We have been heard.

#StarsForAll: hashtag, battle cry, and quite frankly a no-brainer. Now we’re closer to it being a reality.

In a joint Press Release made just minutes ago, it was announced that stars may be applied post-purchase to our Sounders gear. I have no idea where the team stores are going to be able to source dump trucks full of stars, but I wish them Godspeed. Sounders: please be patient. They have only known this for hours. Any stars applied to jerseys in the next few weeks are miracles.  Give them time.

Our list of champions extends beyond the field, and beyond the locker room.  Our Front Office has been championing our #StarsForAll cause for months (minus the hashtag). In 2015, someone at MLS made the decision that only authentic jerseys would receive stars. We don’t agree with this this decision. Members of our front office did not agree with this decision and pursued it relentlessly. Doug Orweiler, Taylor Graham and several others are warriors.

Yesterday morning we started sending teasers to let you know we were all in for the #StarsForAll battle.

Battle might not be the best way to describe it – but we had a multi-step, multi-club, multi-month plan of action that we had just begun.  The first step was the declaration, the second was a letter sent via FedEx to MLS Headquarters.  Steps three through twenty-seven would have involved all of you – but it looks like we might not need them. The post-purchase star application for Sounders is MLS’s short-term solution.

We look forward to the longer term plan from MLS and are deeply grateful for the short term solution provided for Sounders. Now we wait for MLS to reveal its next steps: we were never in this for only our Club. Our letter clearly declares that we believe all fans of all championship Clubs deserve stars. It is our hope that all Clubs can learn their solutions expeditiously.

#StarsForAll #YouWillHearUs



When Will You Limit Supporter Groups on Alliance Council?

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

The question I’m asked most frequently since becoming President of the Alliance Council is, “So are you finally going to set a limit on the number of supporter group people who can participate?”

The short answer is “Nope.” The much longer explanation is worth your time, I hope you’ll grant me the courtesy:

Firstly, it’s not up to me, nor should it be.  For the Council to make any changes such as limiting the participation of any particular type of person or group of people, we’d have to create the language, discuss it, and vote it into effect.  It wouldn’t be up to any one person.

Yes – the Alliance Council is made up of quite a few people who are also part of supporter groups.  That’s accurate.  People who are involved in Seattle’s soccer community are exactly that:  involved.  The Alliance Council needs people who can make commitments and keep them.  We need people who know how to stay organized and get things done.  Many of those people are organized and get things done for other groups – it’s true:  supporter groups are part of them, but also charities, soccer clubs, PTAs, neighborhood associations, and the Sounders Community Trust.  But people only get bent out of shape about supporter groups.

I think the reason some people have issue with “supporter group people” is that the person in question has made a negative mental association with the idea of “supporter group people.” I did it too. Back in 2010, when I learned about the Alliance Council, and later when people were getting elected, I was irritated that nearly everyone on the council was from the south end of the stadium. Then when their profiles were added to the website – I was really ticked off.  Everyone was young!  Insult was sufficiently added to injury.  What kind of garbage was this? I was so mad it took me almost two years to get the ability to vote (long story – some other time), and then I got myself elected – there was no way those young, good looking, jumpy-ass singing people were any good at representing me.

………we pause this middle-aged-woman tirade for a truth-in-advertising commercial break: I am now a paid-in-full member of every single supporter group which will have me……

Why such a change of heart?  Well, I met them.  The real them, I didn’t just stick to my idea of them.  I paid for memberships in every group out of respect for the commitments they make to the community at large, not just the soccer community. I also joined because the membership payments are the mechanism by which I can contribute financial support for the awesome tifo work that I love in the stadium and the charitable work that the SGs promote. I am not going to contribute my time to those endeavors – to that I am resigned. But I have a little bit of money I can give, so to that end, I will give. But as far as my attitude shift regarding “those supporter group people on council:” the Alliance Council is made up of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, singles, and married people.  Some people are experiencing divorces, some already have.  Some have diagnoses to deal with, some already have.  Some are transitioning jobs, some are done with those transitions. Some are executives, some are laborers, some are unemployed and there is everything in between.  We might actually be over-representing parents as our population shifts away from parenting. We could use some better racial integration, we would benefit from members of the LGBTQ community, and we could use the perspective of some folks in their sixties and seventies. Considering that the trials and tribulations of a normal life will not stop for anyone who chooses to join the Alliance Council, we really need the Council to be about twice the size that it is currently so that we can all cover for each other when the going gets tough – because it will. But mostly what we need are people who will commit to getting a little bit done, and then stick with their commitments.

So now here I am in my third year with the Alliance Council.  I don’t see how we can represent the voice of any particular group or every type of person by limiting participation of another.  I believe the only way for anyone to be heard is to build their voice.  If you really think there are too many people from supporter groups on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself. Participate.  If you think there are too many people from the west side of the stadium on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself.  Participate.  If you think there are too many people with noses on the Alliance Council, OK. You’re absolutely right.  Every single person on the Alliance Council has a nose. Nominate yourself.  Get your 25 votes, and participate.

I’m not trying to be ridiculous, I’m not.  I’m trying to get your attention.  Since the Council was created in 2008, there have been fewer than one hundred people pass through. It’s hard to hear our group of volunteers criticized for not representing nearly 14,000 season ticket member accounts when we’re the only people stepping up to do it. We need people to participate and contribute meaningful effort, and that includes you.  I haven’t voted yet – will you run?

Democracy in Sports Editorials

Democracy in Sports: the Meaning Behind the Words

May 3, 2015

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

In February of this year, Alliance Council was invited to SSFC headquarters to meet with Adrian Hanauer and to be introduced to our new General Manager and President of Soccer, Garth Lagerwey for the first time.  During the evening’s conversation, Mr. Hanauer introduced the topic of the General Manager Vote and asked us to collect our thoughts and make a recommendation on the right thing to do regarding the timing of the vote.  In reading the Charter, we realized the ambiguity of the language included there.  So here we are, only two and a half years following Adrian Hanauer’s landslide vote of “confidence,” facing questions we weren’t expecting so soon, if at all:  Is it the right thing to do for the Club to hold a GM Vote every four years on a set schedule no matter what?  Could it interfere with the Club’s ability to hire the best General Manager possible, if the candidate would be facing a vote within a very short time of accepting the position? If the candidate is the best and confident in their abilities, would that scheduled vote even matter to the person? What is the Alliance actually expecting or wanting?

At the March Council meeting three weeks later, we created a work group to take on the task of debating the conversation surrounding the GM Vote topic, collecting ideas and opinions, and we took those to the general council meeting in April.  After that conversation, the ideas grew and the extended list was shared with our SSFC Liaison, Taylor Graham at the end of April – and the ideas grew even further.  It is easy to see how each time we add a different perspective to the conversation, new ideas emerge as to how to solve the same challenges and our opportunities to satisfy our Alliance members get better and far more interesting.

Our challenge has been to get to the Alliance at large.  In the coming weeks, you will see these questions in social media.  Please take the time to answer them in the comment sections of that media format, or send us a direct message:

Democracy in Sports:  What does it mean to you?

  • What would “Democracy in Sports” need to provide such that the Season Ticket Members could influence the direction of the Club?
  • In a perfect world, what does “Democracy in Sports” mean to you?  How would it function?
  • With regard to General Manger Vote of Confidence – No Confidence, do you believe a new General Manager should have a minimum amount of time to prove him/herself in the position before facing a vote?  If so, how much?
  • In the context of “Democracy in Sports,” what can be done to make this your Club and not just a product you are consuming?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  Go Sounders!