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This post is also eligible for the gigantic grassroots grammar challenge!
oblige the author is back, two weeks after our first installment. Last time out, we made the case that UWS is managing this tumultous year better than anyone else in lower-league soccer. Read that article here if you missed it!
However, we now move to a higher level of soccer than smallworld generally covers: USL Championship. As many of us will already know, USLC is the second division of soccer in our American pyramid (ha).
Many of the Championship’s teams are in some fantastic markets for soccer and have some incredible fanbases. The likes of New Mexico United, Phoenix Rising, and Louisville City jump off the page in this category.
Another Championship side that has similar passion among its supporters yet gets much less recognition is Charlotte Independence. Jack’s Militia is one of the most criminally underrated supporter’s groups in America in my personal opinion (and that’s kinda what this entire series is about so fight me).
Over the past couple of months, and especially the last few weeks, they’ve gained a lot of attention for their response to a fairly provocative and frustrating owner.
But this isn’t the stereotypical instance of “cancel culture” that we’ve seen around the country, even if it looks that way at first glance.
To understand this, we need to know who Dan DiMicco is. Obviously, he’s an owner of Charlotte Independence, but outside of that, he’s a successful businessman, a huge free trade advocate, and the author of a book called “American Made.”
Simply put, he’s a Republican through and through.
And that in itself should not cause backlash from a supporter’s group who simply disagrees with its owner’s political beliefs. This, however, is not the case at all.
Enter Ben Goshorn, the *president* of the main Independence supporter’s group, Jack’s Militia. He makes it clear that he loves that club daily on Twitter. He’s loved it for quite a while since DiMicco gained ownership, and he’s been fully aware of DiMicco’s political views the entire time.
Like so many others, he’s been tolerant of opposing views from the public figure related to his club, exactly like they should have done.
Recently, though, DiMicco crossed into a line well beyond political opinion.
He’s been vocal on social media about all the wrong things and silent about those that should matter. His take on justice for black people, and that of the club, have been hardly existant. His retweets, comments, and posts have been degrading and divisive.
He’s not just outspoken about his politics. He’s outspoken against what a soccer club should be out to support: people.
And here’s where Goshorn’s involvement really comes in: he was outspoken on social media against the actions and beliefs of the owner. DiMicco, in turn, blocked his Twitter account and those of many other prominent figures in Jack’s Militia.
If you didn’t read this a few paragraphs back, HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE MAIN SUPPORTER’S GROUP and was blocked on a whim by DiMicco.
That’s just not right. It signals that DiMicco is more concerned about the financials of his club than supporting the people that make it special.
Goshorn even met personally with DiMicco to express his concerns, and to date, nothing of significance has changed as a result of that meeting.
I would entirely understand DiMicco’s perspective if he had simply expressed political views contrasting to those held by Goshorn and Jack’s Militia. But that isn’t the case.
These are social views that matter to the entire club, the entire city of Charlotte, and our nation as a whole. The notion that black lives truly do matter is one that especially can’t be condoned when you represent a soccer club.
Soccer is an agent of unity. In America, we don’t have many of those agents anymore, and Dan DiMicco is quickly starving Charlotte supporters from one of them. Goshorn, along with a myriad of others, have stated they will no longer support the Independence until changes are made, whether that looks like DiMicco selling his stake in the team or changing his ways.
The most recent Independence supporter to announce this, Adam Martin, is the person who’s said it best in my opinion. He wrote a long thread explaining his decision process and said that he took an extended time of silence on social media to collect his thoughts.
The quote that most strikes me from his thread is the following:
I’m not saying I agree with his anti-China/Antifa/BLM views. Instead I can see where someone in his position can take these views and believe that they have people’s best interest at heart. What I DON’T stand for is someone that is unwilling and stubborn to listen to others.Adam Martin, supporter of Charlotte Independence (via Twitter)
I love this so much from Adam. He takes the time to put himself in DiMicco’s shoes, hear his opinion honestly, and still comes to the conclusion that he can’t support DiMicco’s unwillingness to hear out his SG.
Hats off to Jack’s Militia, Charlotte Independence supporters as a whole, and Adam especially for the effort they’ve taken to do this right. I look forward to a day when they have an Independence club worth supporting again.
Speaking of, the Independence seem to have begun righting wrongs as an organization at the very least, even if DiMicco himself hasn’t yet. The club recently announced they’ll be supporting the efforts of Hugh Roberts, one of their players, with a fundraiser to help curb racism through local charities.
It’s a step in the right direction, but how far that step goes is another debate for another time. For now, I think it’s clear that Independence supporters aren’t just hopping on a reform bandwagon because they can. They’ve taken this process seriously and really care about this club.
And if you’ll oblige the author, this is the single most classy response to a brand/prominent person’s lack of empathy during this time of social reform.
Stay weird and support local soccer!