Behavior Change: Bail out the Redskins?
"I think the relentless negative coverage in The Washington Post is a real difference from previous years," Redskins COO David Donovan said, in a quote that I plan to have tattooed on my sternum before the end of November. "But in terms of the way our actual fans are behaving, we don't see any difference."
Consider this post yet another grab-bag of instances in which actual fans seem, to an untrained eye, to be behaving differently. A little bit. Starting with the above video, entitled, "Bail Out the Redskins," which begins like this.
Bail out the Redskins; Set the franchise free. Fans on the warpath; Snyder, sell the team.
Then there's Chris Chiodo, one of the legions of frustrated fans who have e-mailed me in recent days. He forwarded me a copy of the e-mail he sent to the Redskins in response to an offer to buy tickets for the Eagles game. For background, Chris told me that he's been accused by friends of being a front-office apologist, once sent out a family Christmas card featuring his whole gang dressed in Redskins gear, and has taught his 4- and 5-year-old children the words to "Hail to the Redskins." He's been on the season-ticket waitlist a few years. Here's his note:
To whom it may concern,Letter-writing, I suppose, might not count as behavior. I've also received a few more signs I felt I should post.
Please remove my name from your season ticket waiting list. I hope the account information that you sent to me below helps you locate my information to be taken off your list.
I have no interest to financially contribute in your total mismanagement of this once proud organization, for which I have been a life long fan. In addition, I find your attempts to dismiss and muzzle your loyal fans in their attempts to voice their displeasure in your mismanagement a clear example your arrogance and contempt for your fans. In addition, please note that I will also stop purchasing Redskin Merchandise and purposely steer away from buying products or services from sponsor of this franchise.
Sincerely, A life long fan who has had enough!
This one seems to have snuck in on Monday night. No word how many people were poked in the head. The photo is by Curtis Dunn, via his Flickr page.
This sign, submitted by reader Christopher, might not even be real, but it would be dang funny, considering the circumstances.
And this sign was brought by 7-year-old Elizabeth Anderson to last weekend's Caps home game. After her dad told her signs were no longer allowed at FedEx Field and explained why, she pointed out that the Caps are down with signs. So dad told her she should make a sign about that. And she did.
Also, more T-shirts! These seem to feature the head of Redskins' ownership wearing some sort of Darth Vader-inspired helmet. Or possibly "Spaceballs"-inspired. It's courtesy Reader Jay.
I should also note that the Fire Snyder Sign folks, the ones who want to coordinate FedEx into one giant T-shirt written sign, took issue with my dismissal of their plan as a pipe dream. They point out that only 75 percent participation in the key sections would still get the message across. They're also trying to line up section organizers.
Also, Fight for Old D.C. has calculated the cost-per-win of season tickets for the Redskins and the Capitals.
Finally, Dave McKenna of City Paper has dug up several David Donovan features, including a recent piece in Corporate Counsel magazine that claims "only one [NFL] team has had to trot out its general counsel to talk to the media." I have no idea if that's true or not, but the piece goes on to address the sign issue with Donovan.
Donovan isn't sure exactly when [the sign policy] hanged. He doesn't think it was in response to the "Fire Snyder" signs. "We get complaints when people can't see the field," he said. "It appears that at least some security people have been prohibiting signs regardless of what the policy was."
Some baseball stadiums also prohibit signs, he continued. Dodger Stadium, for instance. And plenty of football stadiums impose limits beyond outlawing obscenities. Some say the signs must be related to the sport, or in good taste -- "whatever that means," Donovan says.
In September, the GC fielded a complaint from a fan whose sign was confiscated. Donovan asked the director of stadium operations about the policy and was told: "We don't allow signs at all." Donovan can't account for the discrepancy, but the stadium director only joined the club in July, and he previously worked at Dodger Stadium. Donovan remains vague about when the ban was formalized, but once officials decided to expand prohibited subjects, a content-neutral policy was the way to go. Otherwise you have to ask people to make judgments, which is "not a good idea," he said.
I'm no expert on sign policy, but it strikes me that lots of pro sports teams probably ask people to make judgments. Like, if I brought a profanity-laced sign to the Wizards game Wednesday night, it likely wouldn't fly. If I brought a sign asking Fab Oberto to get buckets, son, in Spanish, that would probably be okay. There are many calls that are harder, but a whole lot that are easier.
We're adults. We can figure this out. And the fact that a new director of stadium ops used to work at Dodger Stadium doesn't strike me as the world's most convincing argument in favor of a sign ban.
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