It seems somewhat fitting that a show of unity, and protest against a governing body, would begin here in New England. It also seems a bit fitting that the team which represents our own American Revolution, would be at the forefront of such an action. Seeing a group of players, from two separate teams, unite after a cup final is something very special and unprecedented.
At the conclusion of last nights Superliga Final, in Foxboro Massachusetts, both teams stayed on the pitch and exchanged jerseys. To football supporters, the tradition of jersey sharing has become very normal. However, the practice has almost never been done after a one-off match, especially in a final. This led to a very interesting scene, as Revolution players were celebrating their victory in Houston Dynamo orange. Player to player on the Revs were adorned in the bright orange jersey, and the whole situation seemed to be a bit confusing at first. It wasn't until I saw Josephs dreds, and an orange shirt on his shoulder when I realized that they were all Revolution players.
In another show of protest against SUM, when the trophy was presented, the players immediately took the cup over to it's supporters in the Fort to show their love for the fans. It seemed as though a presentation was scheduled on the podium, but was thrown for a loop when the players took to trophy and ran over to the supporters section.
Prior to the game, it was reported that the players from both teams had agreed to split the winnings for Superliga. This was done in protest to the story which came out weeks early which revealed that the winning players in Superliga would only win a fraction of the reported 1 million dollar prize. Just hours later Don Garber spoke out and squashed the action by stating that it was against the collective bargaining agreement.
Few times in players union/management disputes, in any sport, have players shown the type of level headed solidarity. Often times players unions have made rash decisions that seem only to help themselves, without any consideration for it's fans or the sport in general. What was witnessed last night was something to behold. After 110 minutes of open play football, and 16 penalty kicks the Revolution and Dynamo stood together, united for themselves, but also for its fans and the game of football. It would have been easy for either, or both teams to mail it in last night, given the small amount of financial incentive. However, what you saw was a show of pride an honor, as both teams laid everything on the line. Playing with grit, determination, and the type of nervous energy that can only happen in an important cup final.
If the players union can continue to make rational decisions as it did yesterday, then they will go a long ways to helping this sport, and to garner support from its fans. Maybe other unions in sports and society can look at this movement as something to idolize, and try to embrace. Although I may be coming off as a bit altruistic, the show of solidarity last night was a protest that worked, and should help them gather some momentum heading into the next collective bargaining agreement in two years.