Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Salute To The Army

I’ve avoided two subjects on the blog for the most part: politics and sports. I’ve got plenty of political opinion, and a bit of it will surface soon, but today I want to touch on sports.

I’m a flag waving, scarf wearing, foul mouthed member of Timbers Army (there’s no initiation, nor membership roll. Show up, sing, sign up for stuff). Now most of you are in the know about Portland Timbers Football Club (that’s AKA soccer) here in town. It’s our local professional team. They play at PGE Park to ever increasing crowds. But some of my visitors may not have any knowledge about this squad.

There’s also this band of misfits called Timbers Army (The TA). They’re the thousands of nutters who stand in the north end of the stadium and sing and chant and carry on with noise in abundance for the entire match. While this phenomenon is not unique to the sport it’s pretty darn rare in the USA. They have a message board where they organize and discuss the team and get together even in the offseason.

But what really sets the TA apart is their abundance of civic pride. They tend to view Portland as their home. I don’t mean hometown when I write that. I mean HOME. Portland is what connects them. What creates the bonds. What creates the family.

Today one of the TA’s own told the story of his brother dying recently. He wrote passionately and achingly about their time together at PGE Park with the army. How it fostered a closeness that he valued. The army does this. It creates bonds where there previously were barriers. The TA really steps up when one of its own is hurting. Financially. Emotionally. Spiritually. It is an amazing group of people.

It’s hard to believe that it started with seven or eight guys and some buckets and loud mouths seven years ago. But what it’s grown into is something you have to see to believe. And you can become a part of it. Show up. Stand, Sing. Done.


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