City Commissioner Randy Leonard led a crowd of hundreds of Timbers fans in a rendition of the first two lines of "Portland Boys We Are Here," following the award of the 18th Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to the Portland Timbers last Friday, March 20.
Leonard's choice of chant was unfortunate for a supposedly family-friendly event at the downtown Hilton—two later verses include the lines "shag your women, drink your beer," and "we are green, we are white, we are fucking dynamite"—not to mention the fact that Mayor Sam Adams was sitting right behind Leonard. (Cough. Don't mention "Portland boys!") Nevertheless, the boisterousness of the occasion won out, and soon, even Adams was joining the Timbers Army in chants of "tally tally tally tally ho," which I can only surmise is a song about counting prostitutes.
It's enough to make you sick. Still. I'm done trotting out the economic arguments for MLS being a bad idea. The sport won't create a draw outside the Portland region, and the financial benefits to Portland's recreational businesses amount to robbing Peter to pay Paul. I'm also done harping on the fact that the urban renewal money being used to pay for at least $15 million of the project is diverting tax dollars from financially strapped Multnomah County, and could be used to fund social services for our most vulnerable citizens. Not to mention schools.
Instead, despairing, I called my best mate, Dave Rush, in England. His granddad died of a heart attack cheering for Brentford Football Club from the terraces, some years ago, and Rush's father, and Rush himself, have barely missed a home game at Griffin Park in 30 years—never mind the fact that the team got demoted a division, once again, at the end of last season. Portland just put up $80 million in public money to subsidize an MLS team, I told him.
"All their team names sound like snack bars," said Rush.
"Beckham took the loan [from Los Angeles] to AC Milan for a reason," he continued.
"There are 30-year-olds who've left England after having made nothing of their careers and gone on to play successfully in MLS," he sniped... in short... "it's not up to much."
So, there it is. Rational, high-ground arguments aside, us Portlanders are all just little boys, playing at soccer. And mark my words: We'll lose.