Sunday, February 10, 2019

On Playing Political Football In Cincinnati

If you ever wanted a lesson on the ills and faults of political and social discourse, expression, and action in America, then look no further than the latest episode surrounding building a Soccer Specific Stadium here in Cincinnati.

The details of the latest confrontation to fire up the local media, social media, and varied activists & advocates are immaterial.  Yep, you read that correctly, I am saying the details don't matter. I am sure you are shocked, but what matters is just a simple fact: in 2021 FC Cincinnati is going to begin play in a new stadium in the West End.

What is happening now with the latest episode is just noise for most of us.  Yes, if you want to know about the details of how things will happen, that is certainly understandable.  It is also understandable for people to want to influence the details of how the stadium will be built.  What is not reasonable is for people trying to change the one basic fact, the Stadium will be built.

What is ironic is that the sides to this issue have reversed from another contentious project, the Streetcar.  When that was built and continuing right up to today, its opponents, including the Mayor and his cabal, are taking actions (often through inaction) to hinder or hurt the project.  Based on my observations, many (not all) of those who support the Streetcar were opposed to building the Stadium in the West End or even at all.  So, what should be happening is that both sides should be examining how the other side's shoes feel.

We didn't get much of that this week.  We instead got knee jerk reactions online and in real life.  Local media capitalized on the controversy, but they were mostly reacting to the actions of local politicians, local arts organizations, and FC Cincinnati leaders.

My interactions saw multiple attitudes that made little sense to me.  Some local politicos (office holders and activists) sought to either wage a last ditch Quixotic effort to derail the project or at least try to damage it and the Soccer Club.  Another different, but allied, segment were some of the arts supporters, who let loose on social media with virulent viewpoints that varied from being anti-sports to anti-conservative, which sports far too often is attached (unfairly). This was just unproductive on so many levels.  For the politicos, it is just wasting powder on future struggles they could wage effectively to hold the team and the Mayor accountable to deliver on their promises.  For the arts supporters it is shooting themselves in the foot.  Alienating potential arts goers is just foolish.  Even if they think that sports fans are not arts fans (which is also foolish,) you have to want any exposure to the neighborhood that you can get.  A few thousand people hanging out in Washington Park are a marketer's ideal group to be exposed to a pre-match concert or event.

The Cincinnati Ballet gets its own separate call out.  They are in direct conflict with FC Cincinnati and are using this as a ploy to pressure the club, with their latest press release to delay a zoning vote.  The problem is that they are hurting themselves.  Along with the CAA releasing the sound report without listing the possible solutions to whatever sound issue exists at Music Hall, this attitude is not going to win over any NEW patrons and may hurt some of their existing patrons.  Sure, it appeals to their base, but unlike politics, the arts really do need a wide group of people to support them.  This makes them look elitist and to be very frank, like prima donnas.  I respect the musicianship that goes into every performance at Music Hall and this may have a noticeable effect on some performances and rehearsals, but to the average person it is not going to make sense.  The average person likely wasn't the intended audience, the donors and city officials were, but doing it such a public way doesn't help in the end.

The other side of the coin were conservative FCC supporters unleashing simplistic and divisive attacks on the arts organizations themselves and local politicians.  I say conservative FCC supporters not because they are all conservative, I am a four year season ticket holder myself, but because there is what I see as a divide amongst the political stance of the supporters. It is my observation that those who hit hardest on this were suburban and critical of city government.  That logically stems from conservative viewpoints.  This must stop. Mixing politics with anything makes it suck, and sports, especially soccer (football) are greatly damaged when politics is layered on. A noticeable section of sports fans in general act like pricks. Soccer has them, but for the first three years of the club’s existence that mentality has not dominated the discourse, like it has surrounded other big sports like baseball, basketball, and American football. I hope it remains a small group and they learn to scream at the TV and radio and not spout crap online. I won’t be holding my breath.

What I believe needs to happen now is for all city leaders (Mayor and Council) to make thoughtful decisions and then either support the project or get out of the way, like the Mayor SHOULD have done for the Streetcar. The arts supporters should focus on finding solutions, not making enemies. FCC fans should be more understanding of the effects the stadium will have on the surrounding neighborhoods, not act like entitled jerks.

I don’t expect this to happen and that really disappoints me. If people continue to take the same aggressive attitudes they invoke on national issues and apply it locally,  they are going to regret the repercussions. We need to live together and make things work. Part of that is accepting when you lose. The Mayor failed at that, opponents of the stadium are failing at that now. We need the Mayor to stop blocking the traffic study and give the Streetcar better signal flow and enforcement of blocking the tracks. The arts supporters should work on solutions to issues that might arise, like scheduling.  FCC Fans should be open minded and respectful of the people who will be living, working, and playing near the stadium. Let’s be neighbors and not enemies, at least more often than we are.

What is most awkward is that FC Cincinnati is holding an event on Monday at Music Hall. I hope everyone is on their best behavior.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

CovCath H.S. in Northern Kentucky Linked to Incident at DC Anti-Abortion Rally

Multiple news outlets are reporting (here, here, and here) evidence and accounts that a group of local students from Covington Catholic High School were involved in an incident Friday  January 18th at the March 4 Life event, an anti-abortion event in Washington, D.C.

Video exists that shows students taunting a Native American Elder who was attending an Indigenous Peoples protest against Genocide, that also was taking place in Washington, D.C.  on Friday.

Saturday morning, multiple videos went viral on Social Media.

The simple truth of it, the kids doing the taunting, while some wore "MAGA" hats, were despicable.  There is not been a full confirmation that all of those involved were from CovCath, but in the videos multiple individuals are wearing Covington Catholic clothing.

Few are defending this group of kids at this point, but more will come once parents start trying to spin things.  This should be an incident that the parents use to teach their kids and hope they can learn from it.  I think some parents will do that.  Unfortunately, some will not, and will either condone or make excuses.

Learning from one's mistakes is how we grow as people.  Parents letting their shitty kids get away with this crap and face no consequences, that is the entitlement that drives people apart.  I fear that too many of these kids learned this type of behavior from their parents and those parents think it's appropriate to be horrid and mocking to people who look different.  I hope they can learn.