Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? If you’re thrown off by the ambiguity of this question then go back in time and ask Oscar Wilde. If you’re asking yourself what this has to do with the Timbers or the Rose City then let me elaborate: You can find an argument for both sides in the Timbers Army’s chants and displays.
According to the TA art imitates life when “It Takes an Army to Raise a Club“. This tifo was displayed before the 2011 season opener. If it wasn’t for the tremendous support from the Timbers Army there would be no way that the Portland Timbers would be where they are today.
Very little would cause investors to splash their cash on a lower division soccer team in a relatively small Northwestern city if they couldn’t count on the die hard support of it’s fans. What could possibly lure foreign players to this team if they wouldn’t be playing in front of a crowd with the same passion they would be used to at home? Would the MLS “brain” trust ever choose an expansion side from one of their dreaded small markets if it wasn’t for the fact it was an obvious blight on the league that the club with the best damn atmosphere in the United States isn’t playing in their league?
Why do the players that wear the green and gold push themselves to the limit every match? Why do they fight for the last minute goals? Why does the Rose City rule Cascadia? Why did they become champions? Because there is an Army behind them. As such, art imitates life.
I want to thank you! It’s about you. You’ve been bleeding for this team since 1975 and we’ve been the best off the field for years. Now we’re the best on it. This is your team! This is your team!
– Merritt Paulson, To the Timbers Army on winning MLS Cup 2015.
But while all this seems pretty damning, there is also evidence to the opposite. Life can imitate art. Take, for example, the multiple Cup Bound and Down tifos (One is pictured above) of the 2015 MLS Playoff run. These displays show the belief of the Army in their team that the Timbers would make it to the MLS Cup. Guess what? They did.
Also, let’s look at a chant that was especially popular outside Providence Park before Sporting KC in the 2015 playoffs. “I don’t know how, I don’t know when. We’re going to win the league!” Guess what? A month later we won the league. Take yet another example from 2015 when we told our rivals from way up north that “the Power of Kwarsey Stops You Hosers (Next Week)“. Guess what? The power of Kwarsey did stop those hosers (that week).
Now let’s look outside the magically playoff run to 2014 with our “Defend Cascadia” tifo, once again before a Whitecaps game. We told the boys to defend Cascadia. And guess what? They did with a 3-0 win.
Now it’s time to even further dilute the question of what imitates what with this: The “Same As It Ever Was” banner. Displayed during the DC United game in 2015, Timbers fans were voicing displeasure with consistently being below the red line and out of the MLS playoffs.
This banner writes a different narrative all together because, although, it is true that it could be argued that this banner is art imitating life, the Timbers would go on after the unveiling of this banner to win five straight matches (including the one against DC United) and push themselves above the red line. Life doing the opposite of what art is asking isn’t exactly what I would call “imitating”.
So, during this long trek through Timbers Army art, did I find an answer to the question I posed at the top of this column? I would say: Not really. But during the ride, we did find out more just how much art and life build off of each other, especially where the Timbers Army is concerned. Both life and art need each other just like both the Portland Timbers and the Timbers Army need each other.
– Erik Morgan, The Portland Boys