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Op ed: Union fans are becoming their own worst enemies

Brotherly Game Managing Editor Eugene Rupinski takes a minute to look at the state of the supporter's culture in Philadelphia. It isn't pretty.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Winning cures all ills. I hope that's true. The Union fans are ill, and there needs to be a cure - and soon.

There has been a lot of infighting lately among Union fans. Now I've been around since 2010. I know it wasn't ever all sunshine and roses. There have been some acrimonious fights in the past, but they haven't been as widespread. Now, fingers are being pointed in all directions. This is completely counterproductive.

We as supporters need to take a hard look at ourselves. Why are we so quick to get angry at others who are voicing their opinions? Nothing good ever came from a one-sided view, but there has to be some respect shown by both the people who are quick to criticize and those who see criticism as treasonous.

Full disclosure: I'm firmly of the belief that the only way to improve something is to expose the flaws and working to fix them. Complaining about the Union is part of why I write. I'm of the narcissistic belief that if I can expose the flaws, they'll get addressed and the Union will do better. I know in my core I'm charging at windmills, but it beats doing nothing.

I'm also ok with those who don't see things my way. There are a lot of different voices out there, and they all carry as much weight as mine. I try not to put people down for having a differing opinion. Most of the time I succeed. Sometimes I fail. It's part of the human condition.

I'd like to use this platform to ask that we all just take a step back for a minute. Stop with the infighting - it gets us nowhere  Stop judging what other people are doing and how they support the team. The only bad fan is the fan who looks to force others to do things their way. I'm old enough where I don't need someone telling me how to root for a team. Focus on yourself first. Ask yourself the tough questions.

The self-examination should start at the top. Whether they know it or not, the capos and Sons of Ben board members are viewed as leaders. Their actions are scrutinized by everyone, and they must hold themselves - and one another - to a higher standard. It's the not-so-fun part of the job that is offset by the privilege of having a huge platform and the ability to show for the cameras. Realize that there are a diverse chorus of voices inside and outside of the River End that all carry the same amount of respect due. You get respect by giving respect, and without those diverse voices everything goes silent. Stop trolling, and stop being apathetic when things go as far downhill as they have. Work to understand where people are coming from and why they're upset instead of dismissing those who disagree or want to do things differently. And stop holding grudges. People will disagree with you. Take the high road and let it go.

On the same token, I ask everyone else to reach out to the Sons of Ben board and capos. I know almost all of them personally, and while I don't necessarily agree with all of the things that are said and done, I do know that Kenny Hanson, the President of the Sons of Ben, is approachable and will listen to concerns. The man cares about the fan culture here and wants to improve things. There may not be instant change, but your voice will be heard. And just as often as you complain, try and thank them. It's a thankless job, and while they don't get everything right, things would be much worse off without them.

The alternative to the cessation of these hostilities is that people will become apathetic toward it all. This is already starting to happen. People who used to be front and center leading the debates and discussions and coming up with ideas to try just aren't there anymore. When it becomes too much of a hassle to care, the support will dry up and the voices will go silent. You're seeing this a lot now. People don't offer opinions or potential solutions because all that happens is that they'll be shouted down and told they're a bad supporter or whatever, and for most people it's just not worth the aggravation.

I hope people will keep supporting the Union in whatever way they see fit and try not to judge others for supporting how they see fit. Otherwise it'll be a long, quiet summer.