Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Brief Hockey Moment . . .

Well fuck you, Bucky Gleason.  That out of the way, and only because I'm so annoyed that I feel the need to write about this all over the damn place, here's my problem with Bucky Gleason's latest. 

Here's the meat of what he had to say:

Twenty years ago, when the economy was weak but stronger than today, when the population had decreased but was higher than today, Buffalo fans were tougher and more judicious with their money.

Their voice was stronger. Their backbone was thicker. Their collars were bluer, and they demanded the same from their teams. They wouldn't have tolerated, let alone contributed to, what they're getting these days from their teams.  [. . .] 

The passion for the Bills and Sabres is no weaker, but the landscape has changed. Buffalo fans have lowered their standards and settled for mediocrity. [. . . ]

Marketing has played a huge role. The Bills haven't reached the playoffs since 1999, but they're masterful in selling the game experience. The Sabres' variable-pricing system is the best in the league, a terrific power play to be sure.

But attendance also remains strong because enabling fans feed the beast. There was no real urgency to keep Jason Peters last week. Why would the Bills spend $10 million a year on a left tackle when they've proven they don't need him to fill the stadium? Why make any real changes to the Sabres when it's obvious that fans will keep coming? [all emphasis mine]

I think this idea that Buffalo fans are somehow unique in tolerating mediocrity seems endemic to the Buffalo News. For example, see this Top Shelf interview with Harrington where he claims that Buffalo fans are just different than fans in other cities. That annoys me, but it's far less offensive than Gleason's condescension toward the fans because it doesn't carry the same implication that we fans are somehow complicit in the crappiness of our sports teams and doing the wrong thing if we support them. I'm sorry but it's not the job or duty of the fans to somehow hold ownership or management accountable for the quality of the team they put on the ice (or the football field). We're fans because it gives us pleasure, not out of some kind of obligation and it's insulting to claim that we're somehow responsible for mediocre teams. 

If fans decide to let their season tickets lapse or buy fewer tickets because they're not happy with the product on the ice they're not bad fans. They're just choosing not to spend their money on a product they no longer enjoy. And if they keep their season tickets or keeping buying tickets to games because they still have fun going to the games, they're not necessarily stupid idiots who buy the management's excuses. They're not ignorant, or weak, or willful enablers. They're just fans who still enjoy going to see live hockey (or football) even when the team isn't good. Bucky Gleason doesn't get it. That's his problem, not the fans' problem. 


Katebits said...

Word, Meg. Word.

faeriecollege said...

I'm sorry. When Bucky gets it wrong, he REALLY gets it wrong, doesn't he.

Meg said...

Yeah, I guess you could say that Bucky doesn't do anything halfway, at least. :D