Good Fans Boo Bad Teams

Why the pros don't deserve your loyalty when they lose.

A snarky tweet to my Twitter account the other day make me think hard on the subject of what makes a good sports fan. And I have come to the conclusion that the more we bitch and moan about the state of our teams, the better the fan we are.

If you live in the Midwest and just read that line, you most likely are rolling your eyes and dismissing the Philadelphia sports fan, as per usual, as rude, crude and miserable, the type of person who would – dare I drag this tired, worn cliché out again for the millionth time – yes, boo Santa Claus. But I can’t help it if we view our sports world through second level thinking and a bigger prism.

The tweet said the following: “Yeah, @mikemiss975 likes to rip all the Philly sports teams. But when they win, he’ll be right back on the bandwagon.”

But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

The notion that a sports fan must stick by his team through good and bad is as shallow as a Freddy Galvis pop fly. Perhaps that kind of Pollyanna attitude works for high school and college. But professional sports are different. Professional sports are paid entertainment. And if the entertainment isn’t good – especially today when a team rings you up for $8 hotdogs and $35 parking – you have a right to complain and urge that corporation to make their product better.

Your voice, in fact, is the only thing you have.

We are incapable of staying away from sports and therefore we are incapable of organizing any financial boycott. We’re not going to stop buying tickets. We’re not going to stop watching the teams on TV, so the ratings go down and the advertising sales dwindle, and the advertisers start pulling away from the teams and the teams have no other choice but to improve their product. That’s a utopian world that just can’t exist.

We need sports to live, just like we need bread to live. If only one company in the world made bread, and that bread wasn’t very tasty, we’d still have to buy it. Fact is, many companies make bread. Therefore, if we don’t like one loaf, we’ll surely buy from another company. And that’s why professional teams have more of a responsibility to do right by their fans. They’ve got every one of them over a barrel. And your voice is the only thing that can ever produce change.

Philadelphia is the-fourth largest media market in the country and we have just gone through one entire cycle of a season – starting with last summer’s Phillies – where not one team made the playoffs. Philadelphia has had only three teams in the last 25 years win a championship. Does anyone think that if sports were as going as bad in New York, or Chicago, or Boston, that there wouldn’t be an outcry from those respective fan bases? Would the people there be saying, “You must support your team through the good and bad” as they shelled out financial and emotional support?

The Phillies are bad enough this year that they may lose 100 games. And oh, by the way, they raised parking fees. The Flyers have missed the playoffs for the second time in the last three years while this year, Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa are going to make the playoffs. This is what our fans get living in the fourth-largest market in the country?

I have been told that opinions on a sports talk radio show are just whispers into the night, listened to by no one in charge of running a professional sports team. Maybe so. But I know that public opinion is a powerful check and balance for any business. The NFL is going through its most lucrative years ever, with television ratings never so high. And yet public opinion on that league’s concussion crises and domestic violence episodes shaped major policy change.

Thomas Jefferson was said to have said the following: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Who knew he was also talking about sports?