Sunday, September 14, 2008

Maybe we need to go over some terminology here...

eat it, Massholes

In this well-quoted article by the Globe and Mail we see a picture that doesn't look too bright for the Leafs' future. Young kids are having a hard time getting into the game, fan numbers in polls are down, and they're looking to a franchise like Chicago for tips on how to get their populace excited again (having two break-out young draft picks the same year your team gets televised locally for the first time sounds like a strategy MLSE will have difficulty duplicating).

But let's go over a few things here:

"He revealed the club's market research indicated that in 2007-08, only 51 per cent of the people surveyed considered themselves die-hard Leafs fans, down from 68 per cent the previous year."

Now, I looked up the definition of "diehard" for an example, let's try two:

From Miriam Webster Online: strongly or fanatically determined or devoted <die–hard fans>

From Stubbornly resisting change or clinging to a seemingly hopeless or outdated cause.

Oh, look at that. I guess the 17% of the Leafs populace that removed themselves from the die-hard category after three years of non-success were right to do so, as they were full of shit to begin with.

Now, I know what MLSE is getting at here, fans are becoming disenfranchised by the woes of the team. But let's set things straight, the populace they're losing aren't the same people who shell out big bucks to buy scalped tickets to a Leafs/Habs showdown. They aren't the people with a Leaf license plate and flags on their car. They aren't the people who still own Leafs bedsheets and wear their Salming jersey while watching taped playoff games from '93 late at night. They're the "fans" that don't know shit about hockey, or the Leafs, who "cheer" for them occasionally in order to fit in at parties and cause a ruckus at bars.

So the crux of the matter is this; how much of does it actually matter if the Leafs are losing bandwagon fans? Should they do anything to remedy that?

For fans like most of the Barilkosphere, the consequences of losing touch with this customer base are twofold; firstly it means that fewer people will be snapping up those corporate platinum seats, secondly it means that there are going to be more people yelling "Leafs suck Ottawa/Montreal/Calgary rules!" out of cars as we walk past in our jerseys.

For MLSE the case is different. These are bandwagon fans, to get them back the Leafs need to be successful, so really any initiative the Leafs are trying to make to hook these people in during rebuild years is wasted effort. But the real meat of the article is the waning numbers of GTA area residents that are actually getting into the game at a young age, something that is very crucial that the organization address. Toronto is an expensive area to live in, and GTA hockey is expensive as all hell (a few grand if you want your kids in AA or AAA, not to mention the usual expenses of equipment and travel). If this is truly Canada's sport then not just MLSE needs to realise that hockey needs to be supported in order to give the (relative) poor or newly immigrated inroads into building up a community, as well as physical and personal skills. It's too easy to take for granted the fact that we live in Canada, or Toronto, and that hockey is ubiquitous.


PPP said...

Your bang on with your points about hockey in the city. Beyond one free preseason game the Leafs need to work on keeping rinks up to date, making cheap equipment available, and tonnes of more grassroots initiatives.

And I for one like having more room on the bandwagon. Now I can stretch out my legs.

eyebleaf said...

nice post. agree with PPP, you're bang on. oh, and love the pic. i hate massholes of all kinds!