What If Organizing Were Like Soccer?

This thought has been spinning in my head all week.

What if direct-action organizing — the defensive kind against bosses, landlords, policing — were like soccer?

I’m not really talking the professional leagues, and the business of spectator sport and fandom. I’m talking the most popular game on the planet.

Little kids all over the world learning to play.

Almost anywhere you go, you can find people to get down with.

Everyone knows the basics. You might have your strengths in certain roles, but you can also switch it up.

It’s like a common language you carry with you, that lets you connect with strangers.

I mean, it already happens some, right? People who aren’t professional/paid organizers still gotta get together from time to time to defend one another. Just this week here in the Bay, there’s about to be

(1) planning an action against an e-verify immigration raid on grocery store chain Mi Pueblo

(2) court support for a young queer Cuban woman facing BS injunction charges and $1 million bail

(3) a picket at Domino’s Pizza in solidarity with Australian workers whose wages got slashed by 19%

(4) a city hall protest demanding justice for Alan Blueford, a young Black unarmed man killed by cops

(5) a rally in solidarity with Grand Jury resistors in the Pacific Northwest

And that’s only the shit that I happen to hear about! There could be much more! Not to mention the ongoing organized work around transforming and healing intimate violence, and connecting that with state violence and capitalism. That part of organizing.

Still, in my experience with this ad hoc organizing, a lot of times it feels like reinventing the wheel, or speaking completely different languages even in terms of nuts-and-bolts stuff. It’s not like I can come in and be like, “Okay you’re gonna be right forward? Cool, I’ll be goalie.” Unless you’re working within a well-established organization, nonprofit, etc (which has its own issues, and is more like the pro leagues), chances are the organizing might end up looking like four-year-olds’ soccer, with most of the kids clustered around the ball like a bunch of grapes, and a few out on their own making daisy chains or hunting for four-leaf clovers.

Which is great! …for a start. But then, you want to get hooked. You want to improve. You want to win, and you want to learn how to be a better player and teammate.

And so I have this funny dream.

Organizing as the new fútbol!

Can you imagine? It’s fun to try, anyway… :)

One thought on “What If Organizing Were Like Soccer?

  1. Michelle October 7, 2012 / 6:46 am

    Thanks for this. It’s a brilliant, grounding metaphor. And thanks for your blog. I needed-wanted it this morning.

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