It was interesting to learn that this year’s World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals drew a record number of television viewers. Not bad considering 20 years ago there were people who said they would not watch another baseball game after the 1994 strike. I suppose even after a year of some exciting baseball they still won’t come back. And that’s fine with me. In fact, I hope they stay away. Let’s leave the seats open for real fans of baseball (and hockey, and football, and basketball). It is not just labour strife, some people simply don’t like the nature of some sports.
To me, the definition of a fan is they must like one’s work whether it would be in sport, music, art, literature, etc. Something attracts people to their work and in return they get some enjoyment of it. If there comes a time where that enjoyment is no longer there, they move on. It’s as simple as that. They don’t take a terrorist approach and hold their money hostage unless their demands are met. During the NHL lockout, I question those who say they won’t watch when the league resumes. Why not boycott all leagues affiliated with the NHL, that includes major junior hockey and the American Hockey League? These leagues rely on the NHL, and vice-versa, for the development of players and the overall health of hockey. It would do them a disservice to go to these games but they still go. Stupid doesn’t even begin to describe these people.
Sports leagues feel there needs to be changes in the game in order to keep their fan base or generate a bigger one. What they are actually doing is trying too much to attract the lowest common denominator. That to me has ruin the game and the enjoyment of watching sports. To use hockey as an example, there have been those who say the NHL is too violent or is not that there is not enough offense. Over the last number of years, we’ve seen the implementation of video review, the removal of the red line, and hefty punishments for open ice hits just to gain a few new fans. Now, Commissioner Gary Bettman would never tell them to go find another sport to watch, that’s our job as fans. But there are some in the league office who feel they need to bend over backwards in order to get them to like their product. I don’t have to tell you that I would never watch professional or international soccer but you won’t hear me demanding changes be made in order for me to don a red Toronto FC scarf.
Sure, these people have lots of money but they are not genuine fans of the game, not even close. I would doubt they would even know one player on the team they are supposedly cheering for. We have also allowed doctors, lawyers, and the media to run sports. The game is being changed just to appease these people who wouldn’t pay a dime to buy a ticket. Their demands may have made sports less violent but all it really did was water it down to point where it is becoming more interesting to watch paint dry. And to think they have university degrees and diplomas. Not only has sport been devalued by their actions, so has post-secondary education.
So, who’s really a fan of sports? Certainly not those who wear lab coats and 3-piece suits. It is those who come wearing team jerseys, painting their faces, grow beards, scream at the top of their lungs, celebrate after a goal, and hang their heads after the team loses. Do more to satisfy them and tell the rest to not to let the door hit their ass on the way out.