Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Free Beer Movement in Vegas: "And Then they Took The Beer From My Hands"

One for you and one for you....
I don't really know how it happened. I woke up feeling fine and yet by mid-way through the morning, listening to former USMNT defender Alexi Lalas regal the crowd with tales of his playing days, I wanted to kill myself.
No, no... it wasn't listening to Lalas speak. He was hilarious. Listening to the wild haired man of the 1994 World Cup turned clean cut (although still with a decent mop) ESPN commentator was simply enjoyable. The guy can give a speech.

I was hungover. Yes, the Free Beer Movement guy; a connoisseur of the finely fermented, the salaciously sudsy, the beautiful beer had a rager going on. It was one part mind-numbing pain and one part shame coursing through my head. I blame countless Miller Lites that were consumed the night before (Damn you light beer... so easy to drink. At least craft beer you have to take down slowly!). I blame drinking them to get the liquid courage to approach Lalas and introduce myself (yup... excited like a school girl to have met him). I blame the endless string of FBM fans handing me beer after beer saying, "You're the Free Beer Movement guy.... you deserve a free beer!". Sure, I'll take one, but probably not ALL of those.

You all will be happy to know that not once did the thought ever cross my mind; one that so often has been uttered by greater men (and women) than I in these darkest, cabeza-crushing times, "I'm never going to have another drink again."

A few hours later the hangover (helped, as usual, by one more beer) was gone and I was standing in front of a room full of American Outlaws members, the group's founders Korey Donahoo and Justin Brunken, Lalas, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl and other assembled guests.

Here's what I opened with:

Beer and soccer... it's elementary my dear Watson.
You see this beer and soccer idea is very serious stuff, backed by all sorts of statistics and what-not. In reality, of course, the Free Beer Movement is much more simple that this (otherwise my tiny brain couldn't run this half-assed operation); it's about the American soccer community; it's about welcoming and educating soccer newbies; it's about.... beer. That's the keystone (pun intended).

To make my point all the more obvious I launched several PBRs into the crowd. Thesis proved. The Free Beer Movement really is an "atmosphere enhancer" as I would later say.

Lalas and Wahl look thirsty. I mean, come on, it was after noon already.

I hop off the stage and walk over to the gentlemen of the day, AO's distinguished guests and hand them two of the most undistinguished beers in America.

And then they took the beer from my hands. The rest of the speech could've been a complete disaster (it wasn't), but at that moment I just bought a U.S. soccer legend and American's leading soccer journalist a beer.

I came to twenty minutes later covered in sweat (not really) and to a large ovation. Apparently I had given I halfway decent speech to the assembled.

At the core of my presentation were a few keys (see the whole FBM presentation):
1) The Free Beer Movement's goal is to "Build American Soccer One Beer at a Time" 
2) Beer is the medium, soccer is the message. 
3) The FBM is a grassroots program where soccer fans take it upon themselves to buy "soccer newbies" a beer (or two or three), educate them about the game, and generally make sure the newbie is enjoying him or herself. 
4) American Outlaws must maximize EVERY game and EVERY opportunity to recruit new fans at their chapter bars and the idea of the Free Beer Movement can provide those opportunities. 
5) The greatest assets that AO  (beyond the success of the National Team) has is its game day events and the atmosphere at chapter bars. The community it has created is a powerful and attractive to potential new fans. 
6) FBM will be working with AO to develop a "bar program" to help chapter bars "unite and strengthen" through member recruiting new fans/members, retaining current members, and returning both over and over again. 
7) At the core of the FBM "free beer philosophy" is the very serious economic argument that for soccer to grow in this country we need a larger base of fans investing money through tickets, merchandise, etc to provide U.S. soccer and American soccer teams with more capital to invest in growing their teams, facilities, and ultimately their fans.
Being a part of the American Outlaws Rally was an unbelievable event. If you're not a member of this group I highly encourage, no... I insist that you join them right away. If you consider yourself a fan of the USMNT team then get on board.

I'll leave you with a series of photos of the Free Beer Movement at the event:

Prepare to be amazed!
The FBM Swag Set Up.
Complete with beer, of course.
A very enthusiastic FBM fan (Ryan R.)
Me telling Grant Wahl how it is.
Endorsement #1.
Lalas signing my 1996 New England Revolution figurine of him. Ebay, baby.
Endorsement #2.
Cheers, everyone. Thanks for
supporting the Free Beer Movement.
Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

Thanks for leaving a comment!