Trending Topics: Selective Outrage Shrouds Frank Lampard Signing


Staff Writer

This is a column that will appear towards the end of the week discussing the hottest topic in American soccer. If you don’t like the Twitter connection or the Puck Daddy influence, oh well, thanks for clicking.

Though some were cynical enough to suggest that they would not go there, the reporters covering Frank Lampard’s introductory press conference asked New York City FC’s fourth player about a well-documented incident that occurred in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks in which a 23-year-old Lampard was disciplined by Chelsea for harassing stranded American tourists.

Lampard said he accepted his well-publicized discipline from the club but added that he was not one of the perpetrators (though had been out with that group). He also told reporters he will visit the 9/11 Memorial.

This is not going to be a column on whether or not Lampard is telling the truth or not (I don’t know for sure and I don’t randomly call people liars). This will not be a column that questions how good of a signing this is for NYCFC (all things considered, a B-).

This is a column on motivation.

Keith Olbermann most notably pointed out the manipulation of the events on September 11 by various individuals and entities to push whatever narrative they wanted to push. Most of the time, there is a tone deaf element to the manipulation as was the case with that Wisconsin golf course. Other times, like with the Wrangler Jeans commercial that featured Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” involve more careful working.

This is not tone deaf because the manipulation was not done by some foolish Wisconsin golf course owner; this was done by residents of the Tri-State area.

The New York tabloids rely on popular appeal instead of journalistic integrity. Their front pages often end up going viral for their ability to captivate. Their headlines and their writing is purposely colloquial so they can keep their readers entertained and uncritical. As a result, they regularly cross the line in that regard by labeling and implicating. It’s tactless, yet highly popular. That is why neither the Daily News or the New York Post fully retold the events for which he was disciplined, yet forced the narrative of the press conference to go in the direction in which Lampard was on the defensive and NYCFC had to elaborate on their recruitment process.

This was tactless journalism that produced good journalism.

One wonders after 12 and a half years how much emotional damage remains after that day. Time measures distance but it creates it as well. As New Yorkers, we still grieve on that day, but for many of us, the heartstrings are a little looser. We are not forgetting what happened — we are just not letting it govern our emotions like it did in the more immediate aftermath. This is a natural step that ultimately we all need to take as residents of the area.

We all know how firm the convictions of fans of the other two New York-area teams are towards NYCFC. A club perceived to be foreign and imperialistic—two assertions that are very tough to get people to drop and very easy to get people to self-confirm. The manner of the Daily News’ initial story did this without very much criticism because people have confirmation biases and will act upon them. It’s why you get headlines like “New York City FC near deal for 9/11 lout Frank Lampard” followed by “Soccer Star Frank Lampard to NY: I’m not a 9/11-flouting creep.

Soccer in the Tri-State area had its own Lampard-esque moment. When the US Men’s National Team hosted Argentina for a friendly at MetLife Stadium in March 2011, a moment of silence for those affected by the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami 15 days earlier at the stadium was ruined by rowdy fans.

As you can tell from the video, the most notable voice is that of an American fan who is old enough to have a good memory of September 11, 2001. American soccer fans evoked the “No true Scotsman” theory and disowned the fan whose only punishment for his insensitivity came the next morning in the form of a hangover.

Now, that fan is not as prominent as Lampard is, but the great similarity between the two was their distance from the event. Lampard and the fan could not have cared less about the magnitude of the moment considering the fact that both were thousands of miles away from the affected country and drunk enough to not consider the sensitive climate they were in.

For that, they are both jackasses.

We’re very kind to jackasses, in most cases.  Michael Vick was not a jackass. Vick was at the time of his dogfighting bust in 2007, a professional quarterback living in the same part of America that he grew up in and has had dogfighting as an institution for ages. Vick was morally ignorant and went to prison for it. Yet, we forgave Vick and there was minimal outrage amongst New York Jets fans when the team signed him a few months ago.

There was not a groundswell of outrage from fans of rival national teams after the incident at MetLife Stadium nor were there any New York Giants bloggers trying to coerce the Jets beat reporters to corner Vick about the dogfighting at the first chance they had.

So why did a story from more than a decade ago that everyone knows about draw so much outrage?

If we as a society are always quick to acknowledge and forgive ourselves for the transgressions we make in our late teens and early twenties, why are we not applying that to Lampard? We aim the cynicism at the foreign player for the perceived foreign club but not at our own, because we are American. We forgive our own for being young, drunk and stupid about things foreign to them, but we cannot do that for a foreigner who is in the same place. We forgive and welcome someone convicted of murdering animals, but we try to resurrect our defensive jingoism to push away someone who may or may not have been acting recklessly insensitive to the murder of other human beings.

This entire episode has been a highlight to the double standard we Americans possess, and do nothing to fix. The fact that the tabloid media manipulated that and drummed up enough outrage amongst Red Bulls and Cosmos fans shows that a majority of us are removed enough from the events of 9/11 to choose when we can attach ourselves to those events. We can either attach ourselves in a way that allows us to pause for introspection or attach ourselves in a way that promotes the same level of xenophobia that existed in the immediate aftermath of the events.

Tragedies and being drunk are two things that almost every person experiences in their life. It is a mixture that can make anyone make a fool of themselves pretty quickly, especially when they are young. We usually acknowledge this and move on, but the times that we do not move on only occur because of our double standards. Why we set those double standards is something we do not ask ourselves enough.

So when we forgive one person for being a drunken idiot during a sensitive time and try to hold another person accountable for doing the same, why do we do it?

The answer boils down to tribalism and its insular nature. Americans are loyal to America. Red Bulls fans and Cosmos fans, for the most part, are Americans. The perception of New York City FC being un-American lingers heavily and signing a player who may or may not have mocked Americans on September 11 adds to that perception.

If perception is reality, then New York City FC is un-American.

If being American means holding foreign players to a double standard that we do not hold to our own players or fans, then it is perfectly fine to not be American. Not being American would mean not using 9/11 to push your own vindictive narrative. It would mean that you recognize that a professional sports club is an amoral business, just like almost any other business. Being un-American would also mean that another professional sports club is not an enemy and their players are not enemies; just a business staffed by people who are really good at soccer and are being paid to play it. It would mean that you acknowledge being young and dumb and are big enough to not hold anyone else to the fact that they were young and dumb as well.

If perception is reality, then we really need to change our perception.

  • Iggy

    Maybe you forgave Vick, but I sure haven’t…

    • William

      And many haven’t forgiven Frank Lampard and probably ever won’t.

  • PJ

    the words “journalistic integrity” are just so weird to see in a piece written by Christian Araos.

    • Jeffrey Wright

      PJ, and you never will see it.

      This article is nothing more than a reverse psychological “guilt piece” to attempt to decrease and make light of what Frank Lampard foolishly did. More MLS propaganda.

      What Lampard did was stupid and he should just man up to it. That is not to say that people in New York City and the metropolitan area or Americans should forgive him either. But, many can move on.

      9/11 —–> Never forget! The Yankees say this with pride as well as all New Yorkers.

      Yet, like I said, people can move forward.

      He still has not apologized – ever. He has never used the words, “I’m sorry”. He needs to start with that.

  • Greg

    Defend Michael Vick
    Defend Frank Lampard
    Defend Leith Olbermann

    Connect the word “Jingo” to anyone who spent months waiting for their brother’s remains

    Next up – A groveling puff piece on the despicable Sheikh himself

    • Truth

      “Connect the word “Jingo” to anyone who spent months waiting for their brother’s remains.”

      I really don’t care about some person of a most basic intelligence who made a bad life decision and paid the consequences for it. The war is a sham. I’m sorry, but I don’t wear ribbons, neither red nor yellow. Your comment means nothing to me or any other critical thinker. Santa Claus is fake, the free market is a scam, heroes don’t exist, and my freedom was never threatened. JINGOIST!!!!

      • Anonymous

        And no one ever said LETS ROLL
        9/11 was and is an excuse for the military industrial complex to make billions and the government to reduce your freedoms

        And btw i was there, witnessed it, was involved in post crisis mgt and lost friends and colleagues

        9/11 is the scam that keeps giving and 3000 people died so the govt could perpetuate the scam

        Dont be mad at a young drunk Frank Lampard
        Be furious with your govt and its never ending mishandling of foreign polivy

        • Anonymous

          Oh and my name is Will
          I didnt mean to post anonomously

  • Anthony J. Merced

    Great piece. Part of the problem is our (and by our I mean the sporting audience) constant need to connect talent with personality. Not every player can be a role model and not every player is going to always make the right decisions. Frank made a young and stupid decision and talked about growing from that. Since then he hasn’t been involved in any public media fueled altercations but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a good person.

    Truth is he was signed for the player he is and the drawing ability he will have for the team. It’s a good signing and one that will hopefully pay off at the box office for the team.

    • Rick Davis

      So as long as he is a good signing, then Americans and New Yorkers should simply forgive Frank Lampard for insulting the memory of 9/11?

      What or who is next, any anti-american or a foreign criminal so long as they can play good?

      What an idiot!

      • Gazza

        @Rick Davis

        How did Frank Lampard ‘insult the memory of 9/11’? By being drunk in a bar days after 9/11? So anyone that has been drunk in a bar after 9/11 is insulting the memory? People have to start believing what they read in tabloids. It’s not really hard to dig deeper and find out what happened but I guess it’s better to be ignorant. To my mind, you are the idiot.

  • James in LI

    I’m a Metro fan but I agree that the Lampard thing is a non-issue. He says he didn’t do it, so I’ll take him at his word unless evidence to the contrary comes out. The tabloids could very easily have exaggerated his role in whatever harassment took place. Even if it did happen, it was well over a decade ago. Most of us are very different people now.

    I don’t see any reason to harp on this when there’s a laundry list of more legitimate things to bash City over.

  • Doc

    This ish is too real for most on the interwebz, especially of the Red Bull and Cosmos variety. Anything to desperately try to destroy the reputation and progress of NYCFC, even pretending that it was proven that Frank Lampard was the one who actually said or did something to the American tourists, and didn’t just happen to be with people who did. No proof/evidence, but they’d like us to condemn him anyways. Desperate.

  • Chance Michaels

    Interesting take.

    But I’m trying to wrap my head around NYCYC could possibly be “perceived to be foreign” by fans of teams owned by a Saudi Arabian sports marketing company or an Austrian soft drink conglomerate.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe because both teams have roots in the tri state area long before they where ever owned by the Sheik Shack !

      • Anonymous

        there is such a disconnect between new fans of the game & old fans of the game here in NY, message to new fans know a little bit of the history before you ask silly questions.