If New York Red Bulls fans can avoid saying three words at their team's games next season, the team will pay them $500.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Except these aren't just any words. No, these are somewhat of a tradition. And a nasty one, at that.
Red Bulls fans, along with select supporters of other teams, have been yelling "You Suck, A------" at opposing teams during free kicks. Not only is the chant hurtful, it is also not helping the league's cause with television networks. And as Barry Petchesky of Deadspin points out, MLS' deals with ESPN, NBC, and Univision all expire after 2014, so this is a crucial season for the league to show that it can be family friendly.
"They need to stop it in New York, and they need to stop it in a handful of other markets. And if they don't stop it, we're going to have to find a way to eradicate it from our game," MLS commissioner Don Garber told The Sporting News of the chant. "It's just so uncreative and ridiculous, and we need to stop it. Our broadcast partners don't like it. When vulgarity is going over the air, it's an issue with the FCC and we've got to stop it."
The league has tried threats and even punishment, but the Red Bulls are looking to take a softer approach.
For each game that New York's fan clubs (the Empire Supporters Club, the Garden State Ultras and the Viking Army) go without uttering the chant, the Red Bulls will give the groups $500 each. However the catch is that the Red Bulls will only distribute the reward in $2,000 chunks, so the groups must go four games without saying the words.
Sure, it's hard to break from old traditions. And perhaps some fans will have to watch themselves a bit more carefully. But $500 to refrain from three simple words? This is like taking candy from a baby.