Facing consequences and people being responsible for their actions or lack there of? And in from so-called heartless sports ownership nonetheless?
However sad it may be, today was the first time in my recent recollection that owners of a professional sports team actually did something FOR the fans. I’m not talking about some cheap bobble head or magnet giveaway. No, today the Sounders FC management (FC stands for football club, in case you were wondering) made me think that not all owners are wealthy crybaby boo-hounds. Even though the football club is young, this season has not started out as expected. Apparently the Sounders FC recognize this and have considered the fans in this realization.
Owners of teams in the sports landscape often get a bad rap. Whether deserved or just because many wish they had enough coin to own their professional sports team, I’m not entirely sure. You have George Steinbrenner who would pay a billion dollars for a season to resurrect Babe Ruth and then make his fans pay $5000 for upper deck seats. You have Mark Cuban, who given the chance would yell at you while saying thanks for opening the door for him.
Being a fan of Seattle sports there has been more than a few times that I wanted to burn down a front office:
I’ll get the obvious one out of the way. If I did not hold stock in Starbucks the entire corporate office would be burnt down. I’m sorry to all my friends that work at Starbucks and all you Starbucks lovers out there. But Howard Schultz is villain number one on my list. In his money grubbing ways he sold the Seattle SuperSonics to some hicks from Oklahoma City, who eventually moved the team to that Podunk backwoods area… and who now have the 2010 scoring champ AND made the playoffs. Schultz, you think if you couldn’t nut up for a few years and watch your team grow that the enthusiasm of fans over a young team successful team might not have helped your bid for a new arena? (see infra) I don’t know how else to put this but… F*@! YOU Howard Schultz! The removal of a 41 year old standard in Seattle was documented well in Sonicsgate – Requiem For A Team. If you’re a Seattle sports fan and want to get riled up watching your old heroes talk about the failure Howard Schulltz and his ownership, definitely check it out.
In the early 90’s the Seattle Mariners team ownership led by Jeff Smulyan, claim because of poor performance (but in reality it was low attendance and poor revenue), openly considered selling and/or relocating the team to a different city. Thankfully, in 1992 the club was sold to Hiroshi Yamauchi and later Nintendo of America… in 1995, “The Double” occurred and a new stadium was built (albeit with assistance of taxpayer money, but hey we still have a baseball team).
In 1996, then Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring, moved all of the office equipment and some team gear to an old Los Angeles Rams practice facility in Anaheim, to try to get approval for moving the team from Seattle. Thankfully, it failed and Paul Allen has since taken over and provided a city with a spectacular stadium.
Speaking of the spectacular Qwest Field. Not only does the stadium host the Seahawks, but it is also home to the Seattle Sounders FC. The stadium only eight years old has already seen its share of great sports moments. A highlight in my live sports watching career was being in the stands during the Super Bowl XL run in a playoff game against the Cowboys. If you shall recall, Tony Romo botched a snap for a field goal that would’ve put the Cowboys up two points with less than a minute left.
This past Saturday the scene was not as memorable. In fact the scene at Qwest Field was drudging for Seattle fans. In combination with the Mariner’s epic losing skid, the Sounders FC were shellacked by the LA Galaxy in a 4-0 romp. One little desktop lamp that shown on Seattle fans was that the M’s ended their 8 game losing skid yesterday.
However, it was what the Sounders FC management did today that has owners across the globe quaking in their $10,000 leather chairs as their hands shaking pulling that $5,000 glass of scotch to their botoxed lips. The move that the Sounders FC fans should (but probably won’t) put professional owners on blast, on how you should treat your fans and care about the product you put on the field/pitch/court/ice etc.
In light of the drubbing by the Galaxy on Saturday, Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer announced that all season ticket holders will get a one game credit towards next year’s season tickets. Here’s what Hanauer had to say:
“That wasn’t Sounders soccer and it was quite frankly embarrassing, humiliating and the fans don’t deserve that… The refund will come in the form of a credit against next year’s season tickets. We want our fans committed for the long haul and we think this is the right thing to do for our fans… As the owners of the club we reserve the right to do whatever we think we need to do to treat our fans the way they’ve treated us.”
I’ve tried to rack my sports knowledge pit of any other United States professional sports team to reimburse fans for a terrible showing. I cannot come up with a single instance. If you can come up with one, certainly pass it my way. Although I have heard that some English football (soccer) teams have been known to do this. The Wingan Athletic’s PLAYERS (not management/owners) offered to reimburse ticket sales for all the fans who attended the game in North London after a 9-1 mauling by the Tottehnam Hotspur.
In a current climate when everyone in higher positions, be it sports or politics, seem to be running away from responsibility it was encouraging to see the Sounders FC make such a gesture.
And you know responsibility and facing consequences don’t just extend to sports and politics, it extends to human relationships in general. Think about it. If your boyfriend or girlfriend erred so bad, such as freaking out over a small matter (like making a wrong turn on the way to dinner), subsequently ruining the rest of the night and had to make it up like the Sounders FC did… well just think of how much better relationships would be. Just sayin.
All I know is that the next Sounders FC game, you can find me with my “scarf up.” Let’s just hope it’s a 4-0 or simply a legitimate victory for Seattle fans.