By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

The question I’m asked most frequently since becoming President of the Alliance Council is, “So are you finally going to set a limit on the number of supporter group people who can participate?”

The short answer is “Nope.” The much longer explanation is worth your time, I hope you’ll grant me the courtesy:

Firstly, it’s not up to me, nor should it be.  For the Council to make any changes such as limiting the participation of any particular type of person or group of people, we’d have to create the language, discuss it, and vote it into effect.  It wouldn’t be up to any one person.

Yes – the Alliance Council is made up of quite a few people who are also part of supporter groups.  That’s accurate.  People who are involved in Seattle’s soccer community are exactly that:  involved.  The Alliance Council needs people who can make commitments and keep them.  We need people who know how to stay organized and get things done.  Many of those people are organized and get things done for other groups – it’s true:  supporter groups are part of them, but also charities, soccer clubs, PTAs, neighborhood associations, and the Sounders Community Trust.  But people only get bent out of shape about supporter groups.

I think the reason some people have issue with “supporter group people” is that the person in question has made a negative mental association with the idea of “supporter group people.” I did it too. Back in 2010, when I learned about the Alliance Council, and later when people were getting elected, I was irritated that nearly everyone on the council was from the south end of the stadium. Then when their profiles were added to the website – I was really ticked off.  Everyone was young!  Insult was sufficiently added to injury.  What kind of garbage was this? I was so mad it took me almost two years to get the ability to vote (long story – some other time), and then I got myself elected – there was no way those young, good looking, jumpy-ass singing people were any good at representing me.

………we pause this middle-aged-woman tirade for a truth-in-advertising commercial break: I am now a paid-in-full member of every single supporter group which will have me……

Why such a change of heart?  Well, I met them.  The real them, I didn’t just stick to my idea of them.  I paid for memberships in every group out of respect for the commitments they make to the community at large, not just the soccer community. I also joined because the membership payments are the mechanism by which I can contribute financial support for the awesome tifo work that I love in the stadium and the charitable work that the SGs promote. I am not going to contribute my time to those endeavors – to that I am resigned. But I have a little bit of money I can give, so to that end, I will give. But as far as my attitude shift regarding “those supporter group people on council:” the Alliance Council is made up of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, singles, and married people.  Some people are experiencing divorces, some already have.  Some have diagnoses to deal with, some already have.  Some are transitioning jobs, some are done with those transitions. Some are executives, some are laborers, some are unemployed and there is everything in between.  We might actually be over-representing parents as our population shifts away from parenting. We could use some better racial integration, we would benefit from members of the LGBTQ community, and we could use the perspective of some folks in their sixties and seventies. Considering that the trials and tribulations of a normal life will not stop for anyone who chooses to join the Alliance Council, we really need the Council to be about twice the size that it is currently so that we can all cover for each other when the going gets tough – because it will. But mostly what we need are people who will commit to getting a little bit done, and then stick with their commitments.

So now here I am in my third year with the Alliance Council.  I don’t see how we can represent the voice of any particular group or every type of person by limiting participation of another.  I believe the only way for anyone to be heard is to build their voice.  If you really think there are too many people from supporter groups on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself. Participate.  If you think there are too many people from the west side of the stadium on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself.  Participate.  If you think there are too many people with noses on the Alliance Council, OK. You’re absolutely right.  Every single person on the Alliance Council has a nose. Nominate yourself.  Get your 25 votes, and participate.

I’m not trying to be ridiculous, I’m not.  I’m trying to get your attention.  Since the Council was created in 2008, there have been fewer than one hundred people pass through. It’s hard to hear our group of volunteers criticized for not representing nearly 14,000 season ticket member accounts when we’re the only people stepping up to do it. We need people to participate and contribute meaningful effort, and that includes you.  I haven’t voted yet – will you run?