KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Sounders fans livid new sponsor won’t perform abortion, needless child gender surgery

Jan 23, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm
Sounders Providence...
The Seattle Sounders FC announced a new partnership with Providence Health & Services, which the Sounders front office says is “centered upon driving meaningful impact in the area of youth mental health and wellness.” But the fan base isn't happy. (Screenshot from Seattle Sounders FC)
(Screenshot from Seattle Sounders FC)

A small but irascible group of Sounders FC fans are livid as the team’s new sponsor doesn’t provide abortion services or needless gender reassignment surgery on children.

The team announced a new partnership with Providence Health & Services, which the Sounders front office said is, “centered upon driving meaningful impact in the area of youth mental health and wellness.”

But to a fan base whose lives hinge on what their favorite club believes, it was a slap in the face. Emerald City Supporters (ECS), an independent fan club, penned an open letter dramatically declaring, “We’re hurt. We’re disappointed. We’re f****** frustrated.”

The reaction of the club’s political activist fan base is borne out of arrogance. They think the club would not exist if not for their fan section, thus believing the Sounders must adopt every political view they hold. It’s irrational and, of course, childish. But the Sounders management did this to themselves by constantly caving to the recalcitrant group of irrational, tantrum-throwing children and embracing political views it had no business embracing.

The backlash against the Sounders

Though the partnership with Providence is about mental health and serving youth, to the base of radical Leftist fans, it meant a betrayal. Providence is a Catholic, non-profit health system in a region filled with left-wingers who discriminate against most religions, all in the name of tolerance. Fans expressed their anger on Twitter.

Fan Steve said it was a “Big L for this club.” Another fan named Sara claimed, “I was really excited to have a local FC to support, but partnering with anti-choice providers is an absolute deal-breaker for me.” Lorie declared this a “terrible look,” while Anna asked, “How can the team say it is pro-women, pro-trans rights, and pro-LGBTQIA+ with this anti-choice organization on the front of its jerseys?”

In its open letter, ECS asked the Sounders, “So what happened to our shared values? Was it all just lip service to keep taking our money?” The answer is yes, which is why this is a self-inflicted wound by the club.

Sounders tell fan base that they’ll cave with pressure

It’s unclear how the Sounders front office will react. But the club put itself in a tough spot when it decided to pander to this rabid fan base, even at the expense of its players and staff who don’t all subscribe to far-left political views. (For the record, I was the pre- and post-game host for the team when they were on KIRO Newsradio. In my experience, they were always fine with my political views; some agreed, others didn’t, but never said anything until they left the station, allowing them to more freely criticize me to earn points with the fan base.)

The Sounders originally did the right thing in declaring an Antifa political flag off limits for the fan section at the stadium. A group of Antifa-enablers (or Antifa members) waved an Iron Front flag to show support for violent rioters and terrorists who were destroying property and trying to murder police officers during the Black Lives Matter riots and rallies.

At the time, ECS leaders Shawn Wheeler and Tom Biro pretended Antifa members were fighting fascists and the overwhelmingly affluent, white, progressive fan club portrayed themselves as literal White Knights attempting to fight for the marginalized and oppressed. But it was merely a way to justify the violence against police.

After a walk out, the Sounders front office and Major League Soccer relented and allowed the hateful symbol to be proudly displayed. The MLS fan base, particularly on either coast, has a dangerous love affair with fascism masquerading as freedom fighters.

Sounders front office is politics-first

The team has not been afraid to shy away from taking political stances. Though sports clubs generally stay away from overt politics in order to avoid alienating a fan base, the Sounders embraced ideological positions to keep its left-wing fan base happy at the expense of growing its fan footprint in the Pacific Northwest.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, making abortion a state’s rights issue, the team and players spoke out. The club offered a specious and superficial bumper sticker statement, claiming “reproductive rights are human rights.” Goalkeeper Stefan Frei responded to the ruling claiming that, “sometimes it feels like we’re 100 years in the past.” Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

When defender Xavier Arreaga spoke out against gender identity indoctrination against kids, head coach Brian Schmetzer went on the attack, chastising his player publicly for having a political position he disagrees with. Though Schmetzer misinterpreted Arreaga’s position — or at least the position expressed in a comic he shared on Instagram — it didn’t stop the coach from sending him to their version of a re-education camp.

“A lot of people were hurt by that Instagram post, and they have a right to be hurt. And Xavi apologized. And when he comes back, I will have a good conversation with him. Okay, try and help him out. And then we also, within the club, have a really good social, you know, equity network, and he’ll sit down with them and talk things through. And just make sure he understands that what he said wasn’t correct,” Schmetzer said at the time.

So, now what? Everyone will likely come off poorly

Critics aren’t even wholly accurate in their condemnation of Providence, which does cover so-called “gender-affirming care.” But to the left-wing fan base, a liberal soccer fan from the suburbs knows better than medical professionals when it comes to surgically altering a patient’s body. Providence does not, however, provide or refer patients for abortion services. This is the health system’s legal right, even if it upsets a fan base forgetting that one can get an abortion in Seattle as conveniently as they can get a cup of coffee.

But what’s next for the Sounders and ECS?

The front office may choose to react to the outcry, offering platitudes about its commitment to inclusion and women’s rights. It’s not like Providence is the only healthcare provider. But perhaps Sounders FC mostly ignores the outcry, which is driven more out of arrogance and boredom than it is some principled position.

Millions in revenue to a team struggling to grow, coming off a terrible 2022 season, seems rather integral to the team’s future. But if they stick with Providence, they’ll be showing a fan base that they’re actually a business, not a social justice club.

What will ECS do? They might boycott a game or two, but their lives are defined by their support for the team. They literally will have nothing else to do on gamedays if they don’t show up. They’ll likely attend games in older jerseys (we’ll see if they stick to last year’s hideous Zulily jerseys, which was worthy of a boycott on design alone), defiantly wave signs and flags declaring their White Knight status, but keep cheering on players with Providence logos on their chests.

But if they do that, they’ll signal their values are just for show, a way to earn social currency in an echo chamber that rewards self-flagellating wokeness.

The only way to stay true to their so-called values is if the Sounders ditch Providence, or ECS members ditch the Sounders. Or they can both be hypocrites, shut up about politics from now on, and actually enjoy the sport like the rest of us.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Sounders fans livid new sponsor won’t perform abortion, needless child gender surgery