I think it is time for those of us in the Cascadia movement, whether we are separatist, bioregionalist, secessionist or any other kind of “ist” to come to grips with the fact that Cascadia is now being treated as a brand. The scary part is realizing that people outside Cascadia have recognized at least a portion of Cascadia as a marketable commodity that they want to sell.
We have all had the thought that eventually Cascadia will be something that capitalism will naturally try to exploit. We’ve also already had our own little skirmish in the brewing fiasco. However, to me, that seemed less of an attack because it was local. I am still angry about it and still frustrated that a local businessperson would be so out of touch with the region and with the brewing community.
With Major League Soccer attempting to trademark the Cascadia Cup we have our first really big test. MLS is a corporation that is backed by a lot of money. They want the Cascadia Cup so that they can market it for even more money. If the Honda SuperClasico is any indicator, MLS could be looking for a sponsor.
Just imagine; Cascadia Cup brought to you by Starbucks. Come down to your local Starbucks for a grande latte Cascadia style. Coffee not your thing? Microsoft Cascadia Cup might be more your speed. Perhaps Budweiser can sell “Cascadia Cups” of beer at the games. Maybe we can all buy cheeky coffee mugs that say “Cascadia Cup” on the side.
One of the things I’ve learned through all of this is how different our culture is even in the sporting community. I frequent a lot of soccer forums and I have noted a lack of understanding from people in other regions as to why we want this cup protected. Many of them can not understand why we don’t want the cup to become an international brand. The answer is pretty simple. The Cascadia Cup was never intended to be an international brand. We don’t want your recognition. We wantto have a competition between the clubs in our region for bragging rights. The Cascadia Cup is not about marketing and sponsorships and tv rights. It’s about Timbers fans being able to say to Whitecaps fans, “Sure, you made the playoffs, but we won the Cascadia Cup.” It’s about the Timbers Army, Emerald City Supporters and Southsiders agreeing on at least this one thing; The Cascadia Cup is not for sale. The Cascadia Cup will not be brought to you by Microsoft or Starbucks or Amazon or Google. The Cascadia Cup is brought to you by Cascadians. Enjoy it, or don’t. We don’t care.
By Nate Jensen