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You are my sunshine

10/05/2022 9:31 AM | Kristen Gehrke (Administrator)

A few words from John Nyen. 

"Daddy, why didn't we get to move back and forward in the stands at the Timbers game like last time," she asked from the near slumber of bedtime.

"You mean Tetris?" I stated

"Yeah, Why didn't we Tetris," she asked as she rubbed her eyes.

"Well, because we didn't win. Sometimes we do, but we didn't this time,' I said as I moved to the door.

"I like when we do that. Can I have two more songs," she said.


"What about You Are My Sunshine and Twinkle Twinkle," she said.

"Ok, kiddo."

She settled back under her blanket resting her head on the pillow underneath her Little Timbers and Little Thorns scarf hanging above her bed and looked at me.

I started into the refrain, my voice still cracking from the game just yesterday.

"You are my sunshine.... my only sunshine.... you make me happy, when skies are grey.... you'll never know dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away...."

I lifted my hands like we do at the game and she smiled.

Closing the door softly I walked back from her bedtime routine past the banner I brought to the stadium to protest the stewardship of Merritt Paulson.

I finally told her today about the truth of the Timbers and Thorns. I told her that they are run by bad men. That the people who run her favorite teams aren't good people. I told her that we support the teams because they are our teams, but that they can be owned by people who aren't good people.

I've said to friends and to family that I run, in part, because if I keep myself healthy, I should be able to outlive the ownership of Merritt Paulson simply by age and attrition.

Honestly, though, outliving Merritt Paulson's reign in Portland isn't just for me because I want to give my children the joy of cheering for a team that doesn't contain an ownership group that is actively involved in a hideous sexual abuse and domestic violence cover-up. I want my daughters to have the option, if they are lucky enough in life, to play soccer for a team that isn't owned by a man who I know employed a sociopathic monster and stayed friends with him even after he knew that he harassed, abused and demeaned the players under his watch.  

For a long time, I thought about it and I realized I didn't want to give money and time to a man who actively seeks to protect employees who endanger, belittle and sexually harass their employees. I didn't want my team to have a fixer who goes out on domestic violence calls to shield players from the police and justice.

So, I gave up my two season tickets in the winter of 2021. I stopped going to games unless I could get a ticket for free or buy one directly from a friend who already had a ticket. Even then it just felt wrong. I missed my friends, my passion for the team and one of my life loves. It was an enormously difficult decision but every single horrible thing that came out of the news in 2021 and 2022 reinforced that I did the right thing for me and my situation. I watched as, together, my friends grappled with what to do in their own life situations. Some gave up their tickets to one team or both, some made certain their voices were heard. All tried their best, as flawed human beings, to navigate a situation that they were put in by the feckless ownership group that runs both teams.

The reality is this, though.

Merritt Paulson does not deserve this city. Merritt Paulson does not deserve the supporters of the Portland Thorns. Merritt Paulson does not deserve the supporters of the Portland Timbers.

The only way forward is for Merritt Paulson to sell the Thorns and Timbers. No firing of executives, peacemaking or gladhanding will solve this situation. The relationship is broken beyond repair with Merritt Paulson and his cronies. The only way we can move beyond this horrific situation as a fanbase is after the moment we watch Merritt Paulson slink back into the slime and disappear from the city. 

There will be no peace until he is gone and no reconciliation until the last vestiges of his bullshit are swept from both teams.

Until then, every sponsor, every partner, and every single financial institution that supports the Timbers and Thorns must be made aware that their money perpetuates a system that is designed to harbor and protect sexual, emotional and physical abuse of employees and players.

We will outlast him. We will outlive him. We will pass along our love of these teams to our children and they to their children and we will endlessly tell the stories of the time we watched Merritt Paulson ooze out of Portland.

And when I sing You Are My Sunshine and see that smile, I know that she will keep that hope alive. That one day she will stand in the North End and root for a Thorns or Timbers team that doesn't have a Paulson in the owner's box. And she will know that I did my best and that I stood up when it mattered. 

Because you will not take our sunshine away.

Views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the 107IST, the Timbers Army, or the Rose City Riveters. 

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