A sort-of research question...

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by ShipstadPilot11 on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:00 am

Personally, I love that the girls always applaud the crowd after every game (road games too?). They never forget to "thank" the crowd in this way and I find that endearing and I think it is a sign of a humble team that doesn't take the support for granted.

There was a student who was unable to be on campus last fall for personal reasons. He is a huge soccer fan and he WAS able to make it to the game at Stanford. I found out that some (I don't know how many) of the girls noticed him at the game and said hello and thanked him for coming as they were ushered to the bus after the game (the loss they had just suffered did not deter them from reaching out). In addition, I asked the girls if they would all sign one of their posters for him after I had it mounted on foam board and they were more than happy to. When my friend came back in the spring to see that poster, full of signatures and personal messages, in his room, it meant a lot to him.

This is an incredible program and I agree with everything that has been posted above.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by PilotNut on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:08 am

ShipstadPilot11 wrote:Personally, I love that the girls always applaud the crowd after every game (road games too?). They never forget to "thank" the crowd in this way and I find that endearing and I think it is a sign of a humble team that doesn't take the support for granted.

There was a student who was unable to be on campus last fall for personal reasons. He is a huge soccer fan and he WAS able to make it to the game at Stanford. I found out that some (I don't know how many) of the girls noticed him at the game and said hello and thanked him for coming as they were ushered to the bus after the game (the loss they had just suffered did not deter them from reaching out). In addition, I asked the girls if they would all sign one of their posters for him after I had it mounted on foam board and they were more than happy to. When my friend came back in the spring to see that poster, full of signatures and personal messages, in his room, it meant a lot to him.

This is an incredible program and I agree with everything that has been posted above.

This is awesome... thank you for sharing! The posts in this thread encapsulate my experience with the team... The team is approachable, they are excellent representatives of UP on and off the field, and of course they kick the snot out of most other teams. Very Happy

We are the U of P!

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by A_Fan on Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:17 pm

One other legacy from Clive that has not been mentioned is the coaching staff. He was able to spot not just on field talent, but people with the ability to carry on the program in a successful manner.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by aleppiek on Thu Sep 10, 2009 2:24 pm

Isn't it interesting how unquantifiable this question seems to be. It seems that the overwhelming response seems to be that of a touchy feely nature. There just seems to be an overwhelming emotional attachment at a community level for this team. I cant help but be reminded of the scene last year against Santa Clara was it? When Rachel with a blown ACL was put on the field in the closing minutes. What a compliment to our program that the coach of our fiercest rival would knowingly nod his head in approval to our coach. It is moments like that that stick with me, and let me know that I am supporting a quality group of people.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:09 pm

The last post, referencing Jerry Smith's nod to Garrett, reminds me of something else. I think being part of a conference of small schools with no football, but that still fields one of the top Division I women's soccer programs, plays a part. I think a lot of we fans like that.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by mattywizz on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:23 pm

GUPhantom wrote:Yes. Simply put...all credit has to go to Clive!

Well...I think a little credit needs to be given to Ana Del Bosque.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by GUPhantom on Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:33 pm

MattyWizz..

Tell me about Ana. I googled her. But honestly...don't know much about her career as a Pilot.

GO PILOTS!!!

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:09 pm

Ha ha ha...Matty could probably go on and on about her...

Let's just say if you were of a certain age she would definitely have stood out to you.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by GUPhantom on Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:42 pm

I noticed she had played with the Mexican National Team ... very athletic and hot latina? I get it! Shocked

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:04 pm

Any more questions on why people watch women's soccer. Andrew? Rolling Eyes

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by amg on Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:45 pm

Geez- You're probably aware that FIFA president Sepp Blatter proposed a variant of that argument several years ago:
http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/article/82103
Kind of funny in that Blatter is an odd guy, but mostly not smart--especially for the president of FIFA. It does kind of get to the heart of the question though; what does it take for women to be taken seriously as athletes? Lots of good answers already, so I'm kind of just re-stating in context.

I'm also realizing that Friday night's crowd will be an interesting test for some of my working hypotheses--its the first time I can remember when there is a meaningful Timbers game and a meaningful UP women's soccer game at the same time. Will one drain fans from the other?

Thanks again for the responses and ideas. Andrew.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:48 pm

I know where I will be tonight. Wink
And I know one will drain fans from the other, if only a group of 4 or so.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by purple haze on Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:15 am

Whoever chose the Timbers over the Pilots got a raw deal (as is usually the case). Timbers fell 2-1 to "lowly Austin" when they could have claimed the league title with a win.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by VillaGorilla on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:10 am

Looks like I made the right choice coming to Merlo. The Timbers have wrapped up the league title already (OK, almost) and I wasn't about to miss a duel of Top 15 teams.

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the fans aren't just soccer dads and moms, or alums, either.

Post by youngalum on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:23 am

I fell in love with soccer while a student at UP. I had never been to a soccer game before, and first it was just something to do. But the night the lights went on I think I really connected. I was abroad during the 05 season, so even with missing that I was drawn to the Pilots. I think the Pilots provide a great sense of community--which is what a sports team is really supposed to provide along with entertainment.

I worked with the homeless in Portland for a year after graduating and discovered that many of our street friends follow the women's soccer team closely, and they notice and pick out students wandering around downtown wearing Pilots gear. One really lovely older gentlemen who suffers from intense schizophrenia once wrote the entire history of the program on a napkin for me. (he could help those of us with failing memories). The cookies Bon Apetit donates to various community programs, the fact that Blanchet House was started by UP Alum brings UP's presence into the community, but the Pilots, especially the women's soccer team are the face. The fact that they are fantastic competitors helps of course. This may not directly answer your questions, but it is interesting to realize that the fans of the Pilots are not just in the stands, or on the internet, but also on the streets and under the bridges.

As I attend the games I enjoy seeing the player's families, and then all the other fans who I now know by face and run into around town. In the end, the games are beautiful to watch, always entertaining, and I love seeing the teams develop and shift each year. We have a lot to take pride in, from the quality of game to the service to the community, to the awards the team receives.

I think the points made about parents attending with their kids and turning into fans is really evident. Along the same lines, taking a sociological look at the game attendence, It doesn't hurt the fan base that Portland is highly populated with lesbians, many of whom love soccer and come to the games bringing partners and friends. I'm an alum myself, but I think I would be at the games even if not simply because of this aspect of the fan base.

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Build it and they will come

Post by pilot10 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:45 am

As an alum of the women's soccer program I'm totally amped to read the support and generousity in sharing thoughts from everyone in this dicussion - you guys ROCK and it's you, the fans, that have kept Clive's legacy alive and thriving in Portland!!

As evidenced by the comments on this thread, the success of the program probably can't be attributed to one specific thing but rather a whole array of factors that combine to make the magical situation that is "a women's soccer team from a small liberal arts college being a national contender with sell-out crowds of extreme fans" (to quote exsmith21). And the give-take between the fans and the players cannot be emphasized enough! The more passionate the fans become, the more encouraged the players are to perform and entertain and bring value to the fan. And the coaches ensure that the team is able to deliver a quality product consistently by providing the tools.
[Sidenote: A dissection of the fan demographic would bring useful information I imagine...is it for example, the diehard, tribal groups like the Villa Men Drum Squad or is it familes of soccer parents and youth teams that carry the Merlo ticket sales and gameday experience?]
Clive had faith that if he built a stand-up program, the fan support would come. Both Clive and Garrett taught us that we were greater as a team than as 11 individuals...we all had (and they made sure we knew exactly what) each of our roles were...they made it clear to us that earning our right to play went beyond the soccer pitch, and extending to all areas of life..they expected a high standard of professionalism AND also made sure to instill in us the confidence that they believed we were capable of achieving this. Sport, I think, is so attractive to watch because it's a display of excellence (or if it falls short, then the pursuit of excellence). The institution, UP and the athletics department, makes the product available (home games) and makes sure the atmosphere is cohesive to the soccer culture that has been evolving here (one of the nation's best collegiate soccer pitches, intimacy of Merlo field, night lights, gameday promotions, Pilot Kids Club, Pilot Club, student section, location of team benches, etc.). The fans know what to expect and are willing to dedicate time and money to come to games because they are guaranteed to have a good time and be entertained. Evidence: the Merlo Field record for women's soccer over the past 19 years is: 176-20-7

One last comment, to speak to the dilemma of the difference between the women's and men's program...we need to remember that the women play for different reasons than the men. Where men can pursue professional soccer careers and make big money the vast majority of women are playing out the pinnacle of their careers on Merlo. They exude this when they play, they enjoy the moments, celebrate every goal, step on to the field every time as if it was the national championship final, they appreciate and recognize the phenomenal fans at Merlo. At the same time, as is obvious by the current teams, they are cognitive of the fact that they need to prepare for life-after-soccer, so they pursue academic excellence and aspire to be stand-up members of the community (as evidence by the many sincere comments made about the players' connection with community).

Thanks Andrew for kicking off this discussion and good luck with the write-up.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by PurplePrideTrumpet on Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:59 am

purple haze wrote:Whoever chose the Timbers over the Pilots got a raw deal (as is usually the case). Timbers fell 2-1 to "lowly Austin" when they could have claimed the league title with a win.
I pretty much had to go. There's plenty more chances to watch the Pilots, but I was not about to miss a chance to see the Timbers winning the league. Not after having such a fantastic time in my first season supporting them.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by A_Fan on Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:06 am

Pilot10 welcome to the forum and thanks for your insiders voice and insights.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by Harry Redknapp on Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:30 am

Pilot10

Thank you for sharing your perspective. It confirmed what I have heard about the program. As soccer fans, coaches, parent, we are very proud of you and your colleagues over the years. There really is a sense of something special that is to be cherished and preserved and honored.

And it's fun, too.

I think you also provided another dimension to the phenomenon, which is the sustaining feature. You gave credit to the fans. But we feed off the payers. So it's mutually reinforcing. Similarly, recruting the right palyers is crucial: they have to be good oplayers, but also good studetns and good people. Bringing recruits to Portland for a weekend visit, and having them walk out onto the field at Merlo on a Friday night with 4,000+ fans must help. And they get to see and meet the current players and think - that could be me. So then you have the chance to get the right players for the next few years and it keeps on going.

Pilot10 - if you're willing to share this ... what was it that persuaded you to come to UP?

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The (sort-of) results...

Post by amg on Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:42 am

Thanks again to everyone who contributed their insights to my question; it was a really interesting topic to think through--so much so that I ended up feeling in a little bit over my head. This soccer writing thing is just a side hobby for me, and I have to make sure it doesn't distract from the day job! I'm afraid in this case I may not have fully done justice to the richness of people's experiences with the team (if only I had a few free months to put it all together...). But I do think it's a great story with interesting implications for other women's soccer fans, and hope at least some people might find it interesting:

http://pitchinvasion.net/blog/2009/09/14/where-women%e2%80%99s-soccer-is-king/

(by the way, the picture of Clive on there was included by the site editor--not me! The editor also seems to have accidently put his name in the tag-line at the start rather than mine--but I'm identified as the author at the end of the piece)

Thanks again, Andrew.

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The Praise

Post by Geezaldinho on Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:21 pm

Great job on the article, Andrew. That one gets saved.

One thing - If you were trying to point to the Black hammer excerpt you mentioned, It currently points to the Amazon book link, not to the excerpt a fan transcribed.


Last edited by Geezaldinho on Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by DaTruRochin on Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:26 pm

haha and NEVER apologize for an epic mega-afro picture of Clive... If I could have a poster of something like that, it would be my prized posession...

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by Stonehouse on Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:36 pm

Wow... bravo!!! A terrific and thought-provoking read. Should be required reading for any poster here on Pilot Nation.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by aleppiek on Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:05 pm

I forsee a sticky in this thread's future.

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Re: A sort-of research question...

Post by UPSoccerFanatic on Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:13 pm

Ditto to the last few posts. Great job and inspiring reading.

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