Supporters of Columbus Crew SC are still reeling from the news that club ownership is exploring a potential relocation to Austin, Texas in 2019.
With little to no new information since October, supporters are heading into the 2018 season with an uncertain future. So, how are they approaching what could be the final campaign in Columbus?
To find out, I spoke with Morgan Hughes, a leader of the grassroots #SaveTheCrew movement.
How do you approach fandom this year?
Hughes: “There’s a duality with this season that usually doesn’t exist. There are wins and losses on the field, and the ultimate win or loss off the field. You kind of do your best to go about the first part as you normally would and still be a ‘normal’ fan because that’s what we’re fighting for—the right to be able to do it in the future. The second part is going to be rough.”
Can you support the club and separate that from your feelings about what’s going on?
Hughes: “I think it’s a very personal question and I respect the fact that everybody’s answer will probably be a little different. The last thing I want to do as one of the de facto leaders of Save The Crew is tell people how they’re supposed to feel. That’s not what our movement is.
“Our movement is basically a megaphone to the community so that the powers that be understand how the humans involved feel. So we don’t want to be dictating how people should feel, what they should do or where they should spend their money.
From a personal perspective, the answer to that question for me is that I will not have any difficulty going to games. It’s more important to me than it ever has been before to support this team and to show the world what Columbus is all about. And that’s saying a lot because it’s been the most important thing in my life for a number of decades, and it will continue to be. So no, there’s nothing in me that says, should I support? I’m more likely to do it now more than ever before.”
Do you have a game plan for Save The Crew during the season?
Hughes: “No, I don’t, which is the hardest part of this. We’re a well-oiled machine at this point, we are definitely an organization. With normal organizations you have certain plateaus or sub-goals that you hit to accomplish a larger goal. And if you don’t, ‘eh, we’ll get ‘em next year.’ Ours is a one-shot deal. There’s one metric that defines whether or not we were good, and that is saving the Crew. And there’s no timetable as to when that will happen.
“We have not been publicly engaged by ownership since October 17th. They speak of parallel paths and they walk on a singular path. We don’t know what we need to do, we don’t know what it will take. We’re just going to keep on doing what we’ve done, keep being the mouthpiece for our community and telling everybody that this is not over, and showing the powers that be that we’re not going away.
“The most important thing I want them to realize is if you move this team tomorrow, we don’t go away. If you tear this thing from us, our loyalty and our support remains. We’re not going anywhere. There really is one championship at stake here, and it’s saving the Crew. If we save the Crew that’s the best win in franchise history.”