What Does A Team Owe To Its Fans?

By Peter Schwartz

What the New York Yankees do as far as their ticketing policy is probably not a big deal to a lot of people around the country. But with the Yankees inconveniencing many of their fans by announcing a couple of weeks ago that they were no longer permitting print at home tickets, it sent an interesting thought into my head.

What does a professional sports team owe to its fan base?

If a fan plunks down his or her hard-earned money for tickets, watches games on television or listens on the radio, and buys merchandise, you could make the argument that the team has an obligation in return. There are those who might say that a fan who pours out his or her blood, sweat and tears assumes all risk.

But while a team cannot and should not every guarantee success or a championship, there are some things that they are responsible for in terms of satisfying their fans.

You could call this my unofficial contract between a team and its fans.

1. You Have To Try To Win

As I stated before, a team can’t guarantee a championship parade but what they can guarantee is that they will do whatever they can to compete. If you own a team, you need to give management the resources to go out and put a good team on the field or court. As a fan, I can be disappointed and upset all I want if my team doesn’t win a championship, but all I can demand is the effort. There can be only one ultimate winner at the end of a season.

2. Treat Me Like A Guest And Not A Customer

When you buy a ticket to a game, it doesn’t come with a guarantee that your team is going to win. Having said that, a fan is entitled, win or lose to still have a good time while at the game. In my case with two kids, there needs to be a family type atmosphere that will make a day or night at the ballpark or arena an experience to remember. Promotional giveaways are always nice, but how is the overall ballpark experience?

3. Be Fair To All Fans, Not Just The Ones In The Front

The thing that I hate the most when going to a game is when there is a caste system. Granted there are people who can afford to sit in $500 seats and there are some that are way up on top in the $25 seats. I get that. It’s not anyone’s right to be able to sit by the field, glass, or court. But regardless of how much money you pay for a ticket, you deserve to be treated appropriately when you come through the turnstiles.

4. Get Out In The Community

A professional sports franchise has a lot on its to-do list. There’s the business side of the organization as well as the actual team operations. Where the two parts of a franchise come together is when it comes to community relations. Some teams are better at this than others but all teams need to make an impact in the community. Whether it’s charitable appearances, autograph sessions, or visits to local schools and hospitals, the players and coaches from the local teams need to be visible.

If someone makes the commitment to own a professional sports franchise, they need to make a commitment to the fan base that they will do whatever it takes to provide those fans with some hope. They can’t guarantee a championship but a team can guarantee some effort and a good experience at a game.

By the way, the fans are not without their own responsibilities in this deal. They have a right to be entertained but they also need to act like a professional fan and that means good behavior at games, being a loyal fan, and passing all of these great traits down from generation to generation.

Being a good owner and a good fan is a two-way street.

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