Sons of Ben Featured, Defamed in GQ UK
What would their father think? Never-mind the bird flipping, (I’m sure Ben did his fair share) I’m talking about this. A full, four page feature on their faux hooliganism published in the UK’s version of Gentleman’s Quarterly under the title ‘America’s Football Factory.’ Oh, certainly it’s no Poor Richard’s Almanack, but this Andrew Hankinson bloke, he is quite a scribe. Ben would have been proud of him. Wisdom, insight, perspective – his ability to assess American soccer fandom with ease is remarkable. Ben Franklin was a man who liked birds (he preferred the ‘noble’ turkey to the ‘cowardly’ bald eagle as our national poultry), so Hankinson’s pigeonholing of American soccer fans would have won Ben over.
“This doesn’t feel like football. It feels like role-play,” Hankinson writes, with a quill, presumably. He is enamored by the ravenous support the Sons of Ben have for a team that “chase the ball like children in a playground.” He describes the fans as “illegitimate,” “hard to take seriously,” and “laughable.” Is this a pompous British perspective on a slowly emerging American sport buoyed by a passionate subculture, albeit half-pint sized compared to that of his homeland? Nah, probably not. A desperate freelance writer who spun a seemingly bland story to inject a copious amounts of zest? Doubt it. British journalists don’t do that sort of thing.
Satire aside, there’s not much else that can be said in rebuttal to Wankerson’s poor effort in GQ that Jason Davis of Matchfit USA hasn’t already outlined. Davis’ response, along with a response from a ”skinhead in chinos”, (which is followed by Wankerson’s response to the responses) have caused quite a ruckus on the American soccer home front. And rightly so. Americans are too proud a bunch to be defenselessly defamed by a cheeky Brit’s hopeless attempt to amuse a British audience. After all, it’s been happening since 1776.
There’s an adage in Poor Richard’s Almanack, ‘He that goes far to marry, will either deceive or be deceived.’ Hankinson braved the Atlantic for this piece, returned with little bounty, and deceived his readers to think otherwise. It’s a practice of British journalism ingrained in the culture of their media (to be fair American media is occasionally guilty of the same). To cite proof, and I’m in for a spanking if they read this, I witness this everyday at the news agency I work for. I’m surrounded by Brits and our work is constantly twisted and spun to make a magazine’s target audience ‘gasp.’ It’s no foolish tactic, it works, it sells. But when done without respect for the subject, it’s reckless.
“Fish and visitors stink in three days” penned Ben Franklin in 1736. Andrew Hankinson, there is no place in MLS for your odor. Piss off.