The Post ran a lengthy A1 story about Wizards fans in Wednesday’s editions, attempting to explore their motivations for and emotions over sticking with this still-winless team. See the A1 display, above.
As part of the piece, Marc Fisher got a few answers from Ted Leonsis, answers which seem worth highlighting. The most headline-worthy response, I suppose, came when Fisher asked Leonsis why fans should continue to attend games this season, and what their incentive for watching this season’s product might be.
“We have played five homes games to date [this was before Monday’s loss to the Spurs], and we have had a legitimate fourth-quarter opportunity to win each of those games,” Leonsis responded. “We are a team that has been completely reconstructed in less than two years, and we are hardworking, fun to watch, easy to cheer for and have exciting young players.”
Now, many fans would — and have — mocked these adjectives. And there are certainly some you could quibble with. I absolutely agree, though, that this group is actually easy to cheer for, far easier than the 2010 and 2011 versions. Fun to watch might be a bit much. That’s pretty subjective, though.
Fisher also asked the owner if franchises/leagues can take actions that are so alienating as to cause lasting damage to a fanbase.
“I can’t speak for other sports franchises, but I empathize with a fan’s disappointment when a team doesn’t win,” Leonsis responded. “I’m a fan too. But we are acutely focused on first-class customer service and providing a best-in-class game experience at Verizon Center. Fans devote their time and money – and occasionally their pixels – and our entire organization recognizes and appreciates their commitment.”
And Fisher also asked if sports fans can actually increase their attachment to a team during bad times, thus making the eventual good times even more enjoyable.
“Sports fans, just like most endeavors in life, want to be part of the winning,” Leonsis responded. “When you are on the ground floor and eventually see your thought, idea, company or team start to gain momentum, it feels great. There is a romance associated to sticking with a team through its tough times, and when that team begins to have success, you feel a sense of gratification – or at least that has been my personal experience.”
If you think he isn’t right on this last point, talk to some Nats fans who lived through 2008. Of course, for the good times to feel sweet, there have to eventually be some good times. That’s the idea that currently needs a bit of polishing.