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Fan Surveys: Skins vs. Caps

Within a two-day span earlier this month, I got two different e-mails from two different fans who are season ticket holders for both the Caps and the Redskins. At the time, both men were feeling a lot more warm and fuzzy about the former than the latter. Now, winning will do that to a fan base, but these guys were each claiming that their satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels went well beyond wins and losses.

One of these readers was particularly focused on fan satisfaction surveys he had recently received from both franchises. "I would love to share the [Redskins'] questions with you and give you an idea of how it compares to what I get from the Caps," he wrote. Fine, let's do it.

The Redskins' survey is introduced like this:

The Washington Redskins value the feedback and support of our fans. To help us do so, we invite you to participate in a very short survey to gather your feedback....Thank you so much for your time. Your honest answers will help us better serve our valued fans. This survey will take you less than five minutes to complete.

Then come the questions, none of which actually concerns feedback, and certainly not satisfaction. The questions include, and I'm paraphrasing, queries about the kind of tickets you buy, the location of the tickets, the length of time you've held season tickets, whom you go with, the number of games you attend a year, your reasons for holding tickets (multiple choice, all of which are extremely positive toward NFL game attendance) and your likelihood of renewing. It's a five-minute marketing data mission.

The Caps' survey that I have, on the other hand, runs six pages and 21 questions. This particular survey is about a party for season ticket holders and not the game experience, but in a bizarre bit of misdirection, the survey actually asks questions relating to satisfaction. For example:

On a 1-7 scale, 7 being "excellent" and 1 being "poor", how would you rate the following aspects of the Season Ticket Holder party?

Categories include: Location of event, Length of event, Ease of finding your way around the event, Access to player autographs, Length of time allowed for player autographs, Rides, games and other activities, Food / drink available at event, Value of gift and overall event.

The Caps' survey also included overall satisfaction questions, with choices ranging from "extremely satisfied" to "extremely dissatisfied," and open-response questions explicitly asking for negative feedback ("Why were you not satisfied with the Season Ticket Holder party?") and suggestions ("What can the Washington Capitals do to help ensure that you will attend future Season Ticket Holder parties?")

There were no multiple-choice questions for which every listed answer was an enthusiastic dose of positivity. Odd, right?

I don't want to tell anyone how to run their business, and I don't have access to the complete survey operations of either franchise, but to level the playing field I thought I'd conduct a survey of my own. Vote on your overall level of satisfaction, both on and off the field, and then explain yourself below. It should take you way, way less than five (5) minutes.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 30, 2008; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Redskins  
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The distinction could not be any more clear. Leonsis is outgoing and cares about his fan-base, and you feel it at every game, event, practice, blog posting. He sees the big picture and has patience. Look how it's being rewarded.

Snyder sees his fan base as money-bleeding drones. The FedEx experience is rapacious to the point of insult. He is short-sighted, impatience, and bullish.

I don't know why you need a survey for this. It's not opinion. It's fact.

Posted by: ThisGuy | December 30, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Snyder buys in 5...4...3...2...

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | December 30, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Being a fan of both these teams over the years has been tough....BUT, one franchise is on the verge of great things and the other has submerged itself in mediocrity.

One has a take no B.S. this is how we are gonna do things GENERAL MANAGER and one has a "do you think this is how we should do things"? PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS.

One has an owner who cares about people while the other cares strictly about money.

How do you think this survey will turn out? Danny?

Posted by: EsMyDee | December 30, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Fan of both teams for years. It's good to see this, Steiny.

Extremely satisfied with the Caps, extremely dissatisfied with the Skins. I didn't choose these because they were the maximum of each - it's actually how I feel.

Leonsis knows how to run a team, he loves the sport and he loves the atmosphere and his fans. He's not even making a profit this year (his blog somewhere said the best financial outcome is -$5 mill.

Snyder.. sigh, don't even get me started. It's a disaster every year, and this one is no different. It's about the cash, and he's made that so very clear.

Posted by: Semvechkin | December 30, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

> Snyder buys in 5...4...3...2...


For the Skins, the only reason I selected "slightly dissatisfied is b/c we have a blast at our tailgate. Too bad Snyder prevents us from having more than 4 hours of fun pre-game. Can we please change that rule? Eagles fans are allowed to start tailgating the night before.

Posted by: ewoldtk | December 30, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Replying to ewoldtk...

The Skins SHOULD allow tailgating in greater advance of the games. People need to be thoroughly drunk in order to cope with the disaster that is the Redskins gameday experience (both on the playing field and in the stadium itself).

Posted by: chombie13 | December 30, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis > Snyder

Caps > Redskins

I feel that with Leonsis the fan experience is considered within the bounds of the company structure and with Snyder the experience is all about Dan not the fan. He calls himself a fan, but he's considers himself before the team or fans. Think about what happens when Leonsis owns both the Caps and the Wiz. He'll monopolize 1/2 of the sporting landscape here in DC. Truth be told Snyder's acquisition of sport talk 980 has muddied the water to boot. Redskins all the time, right. Well, Danny that works if you've got something to talk about. After Ted buys the Wiz I pray he follows suit by acquiring some sort of media outlet for his teams. I'm not hoping that the Redskins die. I'm hoping that Danny doesn't kill it........Although most people outside of DC call them the Deadskins already..Thanks Danny...Thanks alot..

Posted by: Berndaddy | December 30, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, mark me down for down with Danny and Up with Ted...

Posted by: Berndaddy | December 30, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Ok. So there you have it. Now, how about you showing the results to your boss or whoever makes the decision for covering sports for the washington post. Do we really need a zillion articles about the Redskins and none of the Caps?

Posted by: x1232 | December 30, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Not a fair comparison. In the words of a semi-famous athlete, comparing the way the Caps are run against how the Lower Potomac Indigeneous Peoples are run is like comparing Titanic to Dude, Where's My Car.

Passion for the puck, the Cup, and the fanbase bleeds out of every pore of the Caps organization. Passion for the nickel and diming, the "I'm just not having as much fun" leadership model, the "trust us, we have a plan" excuses bleeds out of every pore of the Lower Potomac Indigeneous Peoples organization.

Posted by: playahatah | December 30, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The Danny would never allow more than 4 hours to tailgate. Don't you realize that would impend on his ability to sell you expensive alcohol and crappy food inside the stadium? If you enter satiated by both food and drink, the only thing you'll do in his House of Ill Repute is pee in it and make a big mess. How will he pay all those beer vendors? I mean, who doesn't want the joy of purchasing watered down cocoa that mostly ends up on your clothing or the floor because they don't provide lids?!

I love the Skins but attending a game at FedEx is more like a chore than a joy. I'd attend a Wiz game knowing they'll lose and still enjoy the overall experience. Not getting peed on in the men's room...priceless!

Posted by: redpitbull98 | December 30, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I'll put it this way: The Caps make me very happy and proud to be a fan, the Redskins make me very sad and disapointed every Sunday.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 30, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Simple Dan Snyder= Losers
Ted Leonsis = Winner

Skins will never be a winner as long as evil little SOB known as Danny Boy owns the team. Idiot.

Caps are my number one DC favorite sports team. CLASS ALL THE WAY...GO CAPS!!

Posted by: SnyderIsatool | December 30, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

The differences between the surveys is not a surprise. Most NFL teams are so confident of making huge profits that they really don't care what fans think. That goes double for the Redskins and other football markets where the season ticketholder waiting list has more people on it than could fit in the Verizon Center.

The best example of this hubris is the Detroit Lions -- sorry folks, but wearing bags on your heads and starting anti-Millen websites does squat. The only time most NFL owners care about fans is when those fans start voting with their dollars by not buying tickets, merchandise, etc. Or, in the Ford family, when a father is called out by his son.

Leonsis is a marketing wizard, and he's hired folks who have the same customer-centric approach. Partly they have to, to build market share; partly they just know it's the right way to get results. Snyder? He could not care less about the fans.

Posted by: oc_ofb | December 31, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

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