Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dear Protesters: Beware Of The Idiots...

Maybe it's the fact that one of the first tweets I saw about it included the words "Enough is enough of the suckage of #CBJ hockey," followed by the hashtag of "#FIREHOWSON" in all caps. I don't want to get this guy hurt, so he's blotted out, but here's the tweet:
Charming, eh?

(To be clear, this guy is not who I'm calling an idiot. Just putting that out there.)

I'm all for sarcasm and cynicism, but that's a bit much. Yes, I know this hockey team is not playing well. I know this hockey team has not played well for 10 of 11 years of its existence. And I know that those first two facts are enough to make a lot of people really upset.

But is this "CBJ Fan Protest" going to solve anything?

Don't get me wrong. The fact that this whole thing went from a couple tweets to a Saturday afternoon event -- apparently with permits and all, now -- is pretty damned impressive.

But if fans took to the streets every time a hockey team wasn't doing well... traffic would have been stopped on Long Island for the past five years. Even better example... Florida hasn't seen a Playoff game since 2000, before the Jackets had a team on the ice. Can you imagine?

My biggest concerns about this event boil down to two things. First, while it is impressive that this all came together very quickly, there is a timing issue here. There's really nothing going on at the arena on Saturday, and I'm not sure anybody with the team is really planning to show up to work during the All-Star Break.

Second, there is the issue of the message. Obviously, the tweet I mentioned above is an example of a message you don't necessarily want to set during a protest, and this is a guy you probably don't want giving quotes to the media on Saturday. As Light The Lamp so eloquently put it, the overall message of the protest is supposed to be, "We love this hockey team, but we cannot take anymore of the losing, and there needs to be a change at the top." That is at least reasonable.

And it's valid. Mike Priest is not a hockey guy. Scott Howson's ballooning the Blue Jackets payroll past $60 million has essentially amounted to a grand experiment, which unfortunately has gone the way of New Coke and Crystal Pepsi.

Or the Atari Jaguar.

However, gathering a bunch of people to publicly call for their heads seems a bit... overzealous.
Screencap from the Columbus Dispatch
This interesting fellow above, I'm sure, is not representative of what the organizers have in mind for this Saturday, but this illustrates my point. Boycott? Really? The on-ice product isn't bad enough for the team's image around the league?

This guy is also someone you probably don't want giving quotes to the media on Saturday. (To be clear, he is also not the guy I'm calling an idiot.)

The sad vision I getting is of the townspeople of South Park (pick any episode in which people are trying to agree on something) in which the dialogue consists of "Rabble!Rabble!Rabble!Rabble!Rabble!Rabble!"

Now, I will be phenomenally impressed if someone from the team does show up to address the masses, similar to what Howson has done with season ticket holders. I think it would be a terrific gesture of good will... especially considering the crowd likely wants to burn him at the stake.

My second concern about the message is that probably not everyone there is going to be on the same page. Among the majority of the people there who are part of the "We Love The Blue Jackets, But..." Crowd, will more than likely be a handful of idiots who are somewhere between casual deservers who don't know their mask from their five hole, to those who -- no matter how myth-busting you throw at them -- are still pissed off about the arena deal (or in their words, "bailout") and would just as soon tear the damn building down and eliminate all the jobs in the Arena District with it.

Guys like this idiot, who apparently plans to show up:
Screencap from the Columbus Dispatch
Columbus does not need this, for the sake of its waning credibility as a hockey market, with the league and sports media watching.

(This guy's the one I'm calling an idiot... you probably figured that out already, though.)

I'm not saying don't protest. I'm only saying be prepared to have a few morons among you who could care less about our hockey team.

I agree with a few of my colleagues... guys like Matt Wagner at The Cannon and others, when they say if you want to send a message, send it by closing your wallet. The Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team is the business like any other. Money still talks.

It pains me to say it, but not showing up or -- more importantly -- not buying tickets is what sends a message to the front office.

I am not part of the "We Love The Blue Jackets, But..." Crowd. I love this team. No "buts" about it. That is why I'm not attending.

I love the fact that we have a hockey franchise -- an NHL franchise -- in Columbus. I'm a Central Ohio native who takes pride in his city, and this team is part of it. Like you, I am horrifyingly disappointed in how this team has done this year.

The fact that this protest is happening has already been on TV. As LTL put it, the word is out, people know it's coming and fans around the NHL are probably looking at this and talking about it, too. All I ask is... if you're going, do it for the right reason and send the right message.

Oh. And don't get maced, okay?

Have a great All Star Break.

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  1. If you loved the team you would attend, you say "closing your wallet" in one breath yet say "Boycott? Really?" in another... they are the same thing sir.

    It's guys as you that will benefit from the efforts of others, just say thank you and move on. In fact stay home, you might be the guy with the mace.

  2. The neet thing with being a blogger, you can pick and choose the published comments, I'm happy to see you posted all of mine.

    Nice work Martin, see ya at the rally.

  3. Hey Flash... not trying to censor anyone here. Most bloggers don't live in our basements stalking our traffic figures and comments. :)

    Yes, I CAN pick and choose what comments I publish. I also don't. I saw that two comments came in when I checked my email, after the second comment came. The first apparently came while I was driving, and the follow up came during appetizers. You try publishing and responding to blog comments at the dinner table on Date Night and see what kind of look you get. :)

    Now getting to your point -- and I might add it IS a fair one. I read "boycott" as "mass boycott." What I'm saying "Really?" about (and happy to better clarify above) was the fact that the gentleman was talking about repeated protests and eventually boycott. This, of course, would be very bad for the team, which is why I said "it pains me" to say close your wallet. However, the front office is more likely to base a decision on the bottom line than a protest... that's just my opinion.

    I'm concerned that this event will attract the wrong people (like the people complaining about the arena deal), who will jump in and detract from the message.

    I'm not ungrateful for what this thing is trying to accomplish. However, thank you.

    And thank you for reading. The feedback really IS appreciated.


  4. I understand and respect your position. I've had similar struggles with the idea myself (a protest? during the all-star weekend? when nobody is here? how many crazies are going to show up?) but I have decided to join the protest. I'm not completely onside with all of the message(s) being thrown around, but I think it's important to show some solidarity with my fellow frustrated fans.

    I don't think this protest will reflect negatively on Columbus -- in fact, the opposite tone has been taken in most of the "national" pieces I've seen (Puck Daddy, etc.). I read the tone as a respect for fans who know enough to be frustrated by how this team is being managed. The ownership / management should be embarrassed and (I hope) will be even more motivated by the protest to do something to improve the team. My preference would be that they bring in new, more experienced, more qualified people to manage the team, not just trade Carter and waive Mason, but I know other fans have different opinions. But we all agree that what has been done has not been enough.

    I also have to disagree with your point that this team "has not played well for 10 of 11 years of its existence". This team has not played well for all 11 years. Getting to the playoffs and not winning a single game is not playing well. Perhaps we have different definitions of "playing well" or different expectations for the team. But, I think this is actually the root of the problem. Most teams set the goal of winning The Cup. The Jackets seem to hope they will make the playoffs. Making the playoffs should not be considered a success. It should be an expectation.

    I love this team, too, but my love is not unconditional. I'm not a season ticket holder -- can't afford it -- but I do spend some significant (to me) money on jerseys, tickets, refreshments for me and my family. I expect more for my money than I have gotten and I'm eager to express that to whoever will listen on Saturday, even if the CBJ don't listen. I feel like I have to do something, which is why I'm going to the protest.

    Thanks for letting me vent a bit. I enjoy your blog.

    - Chris
    aka FormerLeafsFan

  5. I'll keep this short. Flipping brilliant post, my friend. Brilliant. *applause*