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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When Gay-Slur-Using Seattle Sounder Marc Burch Came to Play With My Gay Soccer Club

Posted by on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Seattle Sounder Marc Burch, second from left in the red shirt and black capri pants.
  • Sean Gumm
  • Seattle Sounder Marc Burch, second from left, in the red shirt and black capri pants.

Way back in 2012, about a month after Seattle Sounder Marc Burch apologized for using "a gay slur" in a televised match, the gay soccer club I play with received a request: Could Marc participate in our Sunday scrimmage?

This is a large gay soccer club. So, of course, not every homo in it thought this was a great idea. Some wondered: Why should we do Marc's gay-washing for him?

But the decision was made to invite Marc to play with us, and if you ask me it was the right decision. He wasn't coming to apologize (again). He wasn't bringing TV cameras. He didn't want to give us soccer tips, or tell us about his gay friends, or any of that. He just wanted to play.

Which seemed right, at least to me. Actions, not words. Leave the rest in the past and work it out on the pitch.

When Marc came by one Sunday in December, way more soccer-playing homos than usual showed up. That was good to see. And while none of us are MLS-level athletes, we held our own with Marc.

He got the ball taken from him a few times. His team got scored on quite a few times. He got jostled and bumped into. At half-time, when our scrimmage leader announced that two of the guys who'd shown up were headed down to City Hall so they could be among the first gay couples to get legally married in this state, Marc applauded along with the rest of us.

That was another good thing to see. And I meant to blog about it all then, but in the chaos of covering the gay marriage history that was being made in Washington State that week it got lost. And then put on the back burner. And now here we are in 2013.

But it's worth coming back to that day, and the word Marc used in that Sounders game back in November of 2012. I'm told it was "faggot."

It's worth coming back to because this kind of stupid stuff still happens. It happens on Azealia Banks's Twitter feed, it happens in the late-night pizza line in Ohio, and (of course) it happens when someone hands Charlie Sheen a mic.

It also continues to happen on the soccer pitch. Our club fields a number of gay teams in various city leagues, and even in homo-tolerant Seattle our club's players still hear "faggot" pretty regularly during games. I hear it, though a lot less often than I used to.

Sometimes, when the guy saying "faggot" gets told he's dealing with a whole team of faggots, he'll immediately apologize and say he didn't realize. It's not a lie—there are plenty of guys (and in my experience they're always guys, never female players) who will fail to realize they're playing a gay soccer team, will use "faggot" as an on-field insult just because they've heard that's how it's done, and then will feel immediately and sincerely ashamed, and tell us so.

Which is why it's important for guys like Marc to point out that whatever the reason, all of this just amounts to dumb, playing-time-wasting behavior. (And why it's worth blogging about it—even belatedly, sorry—when guys like Marc make efforts to do so.) We all have better things to do than process more on-field apologies.

It's also important because not every guy who calls out "faggot" at one of our players is making a mistake that he knows to feel ashamed about. And then things get tense in our city league games. Then the problems of the world take root on the pitch and transform it. Then it stops being about the enjoyment of the game. Then it becomes something else.

Burch and the men and women at our scrimmage.
  • Sean Gumm
  • Burch and the men and women at our scrimmage, after the game.
On the field that Sunday, Marc, thankfully, didn't waste our playing time ruminating on all this, or on making awkward talk about change and tolerance.

Likewise, none of us wasted time telling stories of being called faggots by guys like him.

We all just played soccer. It was a great scrimmage.


Comments (15) RSS

Newest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I didn't even know this article was here. That couple getting married was me and my husband Andrew. We showed up before we headed downtown to get married. Thanks for the mention!!
Posted by Married Couple on February 26, 2013 at 3:38 PM · Report this
How awesome. That couple getting married was me and my husband Andrew!!
Posted by Drew and Andrew on February 26, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
It's worth noting that Burch's sister is a lesbian. So i seriously doubt he's homophobic in any way. Probably just got caught up in the heat of the moment and said something he probably doesn't normaly say and i believe he truely regrets. We've all been there. So i hope people don't think of him negatively because of this one incident.
Posted by GyroLover on January 8, 2013 at 11:31 PM · Report this
Bkeeper75 12
It's ironic that the guy that used the gay slur is wearing what is commonly considered women's pants. And I think the correct term for them are "Manpris"
Posted by Bkeeper75 on January 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 11
Great article, Eli! You captured it perfectly. Marc is a class act.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on January 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
sirkowski 10
It is unfair to faggots to be compared to a sub-human piece of trash like Perez Hilton.
Posted by sirkowski on January 8, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
#4: It's an American thing. The rest of us call them "friendlies", though in this case what is actually meant is a pickup game or a kickabout. Remember, they also call pointy-egg-carry-ball "football" and football "soccer". It's a confused nation.
Posted by DrJamesIncandenza on January 8, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
This sounded fun. Good to hear.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 8, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
I wish someone would publish a list of things I am allowed and not allowed to yell in public. I mean that seriously. If it weren't so nerdy, I'd just yell "Frak" or some other nonsense, since it's too hard to use adjectives without annoying.
Posted by Mat on January 8, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 6
@5 Further speaks to Marc Burch's 'good guy' qualities. In casual sports, when there's a "men against boys" kind of situation, it takes a real ass of a man to run up the score or otherwise humiliate the boys. (pro competition differs) It's one thing to show off some skilz to wow the kids, but it's another thing to bean 'em with a 95mph fastball. Sounds like Marc isn't one of those kinds of jerks.
Posted by Sir Vic on January 8, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 5
I'm thinking he was probably playing at 3/4 speed.

This. When I was young and lean, I used to play in multiple office and church basketball leagues as well as whenever I was single living down at various playgrounds constantly playing pick up games. There was a weekend where some starting Division 2 college kids from a school were visiting with one of their team mates some family. They would come down and play us.

One of my friends (who was one of the best players on our office team and could out gun and out duel most anyone in the league) starts talking shit and they bite, and he tells them to stop holding out. "You pussies," etc. They laughed and proceeded to absolutely clown us. I was never anything special on offense beyond being able to get open a lot for three pointers, and I was I thought very good at defense and rebounding.

My guy basically might as well have had me like an infant in a Baby Bjorn, for how much I was locked down. It was hilarious, and these were only D2 guys.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 8, 2013 at 8:49 AM · Report this
I've never heard the word "scrimmage" associated with soccer before.
Posted by originalcinner on January 8, 2013 at 8:41 AM · Report this
The Dopest 3
I'm not apologizing on Burch's behalf but he probably isn't a homophobe. "Fag" is a less-than-savory element of sports culture, but those that say it rarely think of the implications.

Kinda like how many, many people say things like "that's fucking retarded, man," meaning no offense to the developmentally disabled. It's also not something that they would say if they were in the presence of a downs-only soccer club.

Props to him for apologizing though and props to you guys for accepting it and not demanding more.
Posted by The Dopest on January 8, 2013 at 7:59 AM · Report this
michaelp 2
It was a lot of fun. Sure, he wasn't playing at full speed, but getting to pass to an MLS player, and later defend against an MLS player, was pretty badass.

Granted, I didn't know about the prior gay slur. I figured it was just some Sounders hanging out with the gays again, just more than at a bar. And Eli is right - there was no dwelling on some prior bad acts.

Just a bunch of folk doing Sunday Kickabout...with an MLS player.
Posted by michaelp on January 8, 2013 at 7:46 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 1
And while none of us are MLS-level athletes, we held our own with Marc.

I'm thinking he was probably playing at 3/4 speed. In college, I had the chance to casually play with/against a guy who would later be a bench player for the Nigerian WC team. It was pretty silly, like dog-paddling next to Ryan Lochte.
Posted by Sir Vic on January 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM · Report this

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