Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Stadium Experience I'd Rather Forget

Sports, Recreation, Health, & Fitness ---

Imagine showing up at the MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey for a soccer match between the New York Red Bulls and an international club team.  Imagine that tickets for the game, instead of being sold from the ticket booths, are sold from an SUV parked just outside the stadium.  Imagine that, once inside the stadium, you find yourself having to negotiate your way through several pools of standing water.  Imagine also that a trip to the rest room revealed missing or broken fixtures and evidence of poor maintenance.   On your way to your seat you notice obvious signs of leaks at various parts of the stadium's structure.  

Once you take your seat, you notice that there is no scoreboard.  You ask yourself, "Isn't this supposed to be a FIFA-sponsored CONCACAF game in which optimum quality is expected?"  As you ponder this question, an unkempt concession seller (no uniform) comes up to you attempting to sell some of his snacks.  You tell him that you are not interested, but to your surprise he keeps insisting that you purchase something from him.  He eventually grows tired and leaves.  By this time the game has started.  

You detect a familiar smell.  You think to yourself, "It can't be!!!"  You realize that it is.  Marijuana!  You look incredulously at the police officer (A police officer?!!! Not stadium security?!!) standing a few feet from you.  His olfactory sense was either non-existent or he was simply ignoring the infraction.  You look around at the sparsely attended game.  No-one sported a replica jersey or the colors of the local team.  You notice a man with a Portugal replica jersey and another with an Argentina replica jersey.  Your own efforts to purchase a replica jersey for the local club earlier in the day and the previous days proved largely unsuccessful.  They were not sold out; they simple had not even been made.  So much for building fan support.

Well, such a scenario is unthinkable at any of the major stadiums here in the US.  However, apparently it is thinkable at Guyana's major stadium, the Providence stadium.  Sadly, such was the scenario at a recent match I attended at that stadium between Guyana's Alpha United Football Club and the visiting Portland Timbers from the US.  My intent here is not to bash my country or to cast judgement, for I stand with my people, identify with them, and own the shame of that event's deficiencies.  We must operate with a sense of pride at all levels of our engagement within and outside our society.  We must also seek to cultivate and maintain standards of efficiency on par with or even better than others.  We should settle for nothing less.  

[Photo Art Courtesy of Portland Timbers]