Tifosweat. Wait, hold on, that's not right. #TIFOSWEAT. There. I'm sure, by now, if you're reading this website, you've probably heard of #TIFOSWEAT. If not, I'll briefly elaborate. You know those insanely awesome banners that you're always seeing in the Nordecke? Or the awesome "NEW CREW" thing in the south stands from the opening game last year? Or the giant black jersey that opened down the middle? Yeah, #TIFOSWEAT made those. But let's clear something up:
#TIFOSWEAT is not a supporters group. At least not in the way Hudson Street Hooligans or Crew Union are. This is by design. The leaders of this not-so-secret secret cabal have made it clear that anyone and everyone is welcome. The only requirement is that you want to make things to support Columbus. Creative things. Awesome things. Things like the Guardians Against the Galaxy display from last year's Landon Donovan Retirement Tour, or their original work, the awe-inspire HOME TIFO from Dos A Cero '13. To say #TIFOSWEAT has a bit of a reputation to uphold would be an understatement.
And I'd never been. It always had just not worked out. Until this week. This week, I got SWEAT-y. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I mean, this is #TIFOSWEAT. (They laughed at me for saying I was intimidated by the idea of coming, for the record.) But in keeping with my previous articles, such as my first tailgate experience or my first time in the Nordecke, I put my big boy pants on and set off for the Secret #TIFOSWEAT HQ. I was accompanied by my girlfriend, the poor dear, who had absolutely no idea what she was getting in to.
I am not allowed to reveal where the Secret HQ is. They threatened my dog. But I will say that it is a giant warehouse space, that when it's not being used by crazy people making art is some sort of company that appears to make things. We were told to "park and enter in the rear of the building". There were several similar buildings in the area, so for a bit we drove around the backside of the buildings, looking for some sign. After a few minutes we found one, a simple piece of cardboard, "#TIFOSWEAT Entrance" written in plain black sharpie. Oh, and there was a Notorious BIG "No Capo's No Problem" banner. But I saw the cardboard sign first.
So we enter this giant space. First thing we see, besides assorted people, mostly decked out in black and gold, milling around, is a basketball hoop. Yes. The Secret #TIFOSWEAT HQ has a basketball hoop set up in the middle. I saw a game of horse break out. I am making none of this up. Upon arriving and greeting several of the people I knew (I can disclose no identities), we were informed that this project was a little different than the usual. Usually, it's all hands on deck, everyone grab a brush and paint. But due to the nature of the project, an unheard of 350 "two sticks", this effort was being done in a more assembly line style. Two people were grommeting the fabric, so that they could be attached to PVC pipes which had already been prepared. That was our job, zip-tying them to the pipes. One of the #TIFOSWEAT masterminds was busy making more stencils to be painted over, and outside the painting was going on. There were people carrying the freshly painted banners over to hang and dry. It was surprisingly laid-back, yet highly efficient. A projector was showing NYRB vs. Orlando.
The experience was amazing, inspiring, and above all fun. In spite of the insane amount of work that needed to be done, everyone was in high spirits. And I never felt out of place, despite knowing less than half the people there and it being my first time. It felt like hanging out with friends. Crazy, soccer nerd friends. There was no ego, no "well I want my idea". It was all about the project, not the people making the project. As it should be.
If hanging out with awesome people, who love the Crew as much as you, and making great art isn't enough of a reason to go, I offer this:
Flash forward to Saturday. We're handing out the two-sticks, explaining to people that they couldn't raise them until after the half-time ceremony, but then they were theirs to do with what they will. That means they could keep them. People were shocked. So I was handing out my last few, trying to make it back to my seat for the start of the game. I saw a boy, maybe seven or eight, sitting with what I assume were his grandparents. I ask if he wants one. Of course he does. So I go through the instructions, and get to the part where he gets to keep it. The look of joy on that young man's face was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. I have no idea if I actually zip tied the two stick I was handing him. Probably not. But it didn't matter. Something I was a part of making just made this kid's night, and possibly cemented him as a Crew fan. I'd never been more proud to be a part of something than at just that moment.
So how do you, Massive Report readers, get involved? Well, my suggestion is to follow @tifosweat on twitter. Talk to them. Ask questions. If you want to know more, the info will find you. If you want to be involved, all are welcome. I should point out that no one from #TIFOSWEAT read or endorsed this story before it appeared online. I was given permission to write, but all the impressions and thoughts here are just that, impressions. I can't speak for the group. I'm not sure any one person adequately can. But I will say, with all due respect to MR.Com or the podcast, the few hours I got to spend SWEAT-ing are, without a doubt, the best and most fulfilling Crew related thing I have ever been a part of.
Stay Massive, and I hope to see you guys at the next #TIFOSWEAT.