Earlier this week we cited a story about how the Flyers had lost just 12 season ticket holders in the wake of the NHL's 2nd lockout in the past decade. Flyers fans came back en-masse after the last lockout, but some speculated that this latest money grab by the owners might finally turn fans off.
That doesn't seem to be the case.
And it begs a serious question. Are we loyal fans or just suckers? I put that query to our hockey writers Geoff Detweiler and Dave Strehle.
I think the fact that only 12 people have cancelled season tickets is indicative of many, many things. First, I think those who have maintained their season tickets did so for many reasons, including a commendable loyalty to the team, a selfish desire to get 2% interest on their investment, a fear of losing their priority should they make a protest, and an unwillingness to jump through the hoops of canceling their plan. I'm sure the group is diverse enough to make answering the question complicated, but I still think we're all just suckers.
The NHL saw record revenues since the last lockout, but still can't agree with the NHLPA how to split that pie without a lockout. Similarly, the average cost for a family of four to attend has increased 29% during that time period. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/
There is a very fine line between showing loyalty and being a sucker. Hockey fans are traditionally some of the most loyal supporters of the four major sports and local team fanbases, especially here in Philly. Since many who have emailed me have said they would be back once the lockout ends, that number of 12 Flyers' ticket holders canceling their season tickets plans is not surprising to me at all. Several local radio personalities will continue to brand Flyer fans as "Stepfords" for their "blind following of the team no matter what the organization does", but I believe it instead simply shows the fans' unconditional love for those who don the Orange and Black. It is that fervent adoration through thick and thin that steers my belief that those who root for the Flyers are just great, avid fans who cannot wait for their club to be allowed back on the ice again.
[Note by JasonB, 10/18/12 10:59 AM EDT ] Kevin Owens, who used to play Pro Basketball and brings a different perspective here, weighs in with his thoughts.
"It is true, the fans are the ones suffering during lockouts, but I don't know if I would refer to them as "suckers". The reason being, like Trier said, "I love that I can tell my kids that I was there when Ron Hextall scored the first [goalie] goal, that I was there when Bob Kelly dragged Steve Durbano across the ice. I try to find video of those games and show my kids". Isn't that what being a fan is all about? I cherish the memories I have of Game 5 in 2008. It is something I will be able to tell my grandchildren one day...That i was there. Being a fan means taking the good years with the bad. To say I was there during the years of Ricky Jordan, Fred Carter, or Rodney Peete. To watch Pat Burrell toil in Philly year after year, be finally rewarded with a championship. It's why you pay the outrageous prices."
[Note by JasonB, 10/18/12 12:02 PM EDT ] Derek Bodner also weighs in
If I were a season ticket holder, what would I gain by canceling?
When games resume and I don't have tickets, it's not the league who will be hurting but me.
This is especially true for teams that have a waiting list. If in 4 years I'm sitting up in the nosebleeds rather than lower level, have I won? Am I going to care about the stance I took 4 years ago to try to prove a point? Is my righteous indignation going to be worth the years of lesser enjoyment I will get because canceling my tickets?
Who really loses if I cancel my season tickets? It seems to me that the one taking it on the chin is going to be the fans. Causing myself more inconvenience isn't going to solve the lockout.
I think ticket sales, and especially season ticket sales and/or seat licenses, are a really bad way of measuring whether somebody is a sucker. I don't think fans should be expected to give up something that brings them enjoyment to solve this issue.