Monday, March 24, 2014

Give it all 'ya got and bring in all your ships, wing abreast...

"There are many moments for ruthless action - what is often called ruthless - what may in many circumstances be only clarity, seeing clearly what there is to be done and doing it, directly, quickly, awake, looking at it..."

Anthony Precourt and the Columbus Crew have "parted ways" with Mark McCullers, as many of you, if not most, know by now. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as new owners, almost inevitably, clean house. The timescale has been relatively short since Precourt has been in charge, but he's fired a head coach (Robert Warzycha), hired a head coach and Sporting Director (Gregg Berhalter) and now "parted ways" with the club's President (Mark McCullers).

Make no mistake, McCullers had to go. He failed to achieve, or surpass, the ten thousand season ticket holder threshold. He failed to deliver a stadium sponsor. And, most recently was the face of a seemingly very bad, from a public relations standpoint (at the very least), television broadcast deal. The outrage from this latest transgression has abated but is still felt through the outlet of social media.

"What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans, man? That he had wisdom? Bullshit, man!"

There is no doubt that Mark McCullers did a whole lot of good work while he was a part of the Black and Gold family. But failing to deliver on these three items, which are HUGE for any club, would be the death knell for any club President. And so it was with McCullers. At the end of the day, he was not going to be a part of Anthony Precourt, and Precourt Sports Ventures, plans of making the Columbus Crew not only profitable, but respectable.

"Well, you see, Willard, in this war, things get confused out there. Power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to be God. Because there's a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irration, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature."

The issue that oozes its way to the forefront of your cerebral cortex is the fact that the supporters, hardcore and casual alike, have been taken for granted for too many years. They were the fodder upon which future projections were made. Raise ticket prices, sit in your seats, no swearing and absolutely no smoke bombs... rules, rules, rules...

Whatever happened to the enjoyment of being a part of a family? Oh sure, the commercials on television last year hyped-up the "family" angle. But in reality, it was never further from the truth. Do this, don't do that, and as sure as the sun rises in the East every morning, don't make waves.

"Well, he wasn't a bad officer, I guess. He loved his boys, and he felt safe with 'em. He was just one of those guys with that weird light around him. He just knew he wasn't gonna get so much as a scratch here."

This may be Anthony Precourt's first venture into the world of being a sports club owner, but he seems to know, and more importantly listen to, the supporters and what they are craving. Make no mistake, this is a business. He will treat it as such. But, From what I've seen since he acquired the club last July, he's genuinely interested in what the supporters have to say and feel about a club they've bled Black and Gold for, now approaching twenty years of sweat and toil. 

He's a businessman that also happens to have, at times, a "frat boy" sensibility of being one of the guys who just so happens to own the team. He's "hip" but not a hipster. He wants the supporters to be even more proud of the fact that they are fans of the Black and Gold. He wants to make it"cooler" for everybody. 

Last august, less than a month after becoming the new owner, he made the rounds of local Crew supporter establishments and quaffed some frosty beverages with the faithful. He listened. He asked questions. But most of all, he was seen as being one of them.

"No, no, we go together... on the boat! We came this far, so we go together. All the way! We'll take you up there, we'll go with you... but on the boat! Okay?"

Anthony Precourt has made sweeping changes since taking the reins of the Crew. Of that, there is no doubt. Will the changes that he has made make a difference? On the surface, the answer has to be an unequivocal "yes". But, it remains to be seen if the ultimate goals of relevancy and success become the fruits of his labors.

At the end of the day, Precourt seems to be saying "we're in this together. I'll lead the way, as long as you follow in my footsteps." Ultimately, is that such a bad position to be in?

As for the title of this little jaunt through the weirdness, time to get you kids educated on a classic. And yes, I can see Anthony Precourt playing the part of Colonel Kilgore...

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