Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why Can't Indianapolis Support the Indiana Fever?

What do you want, Indiana? What's it going to take for our state, or at least our city, to support a professional women's basketball team? I've taken my family to four different games this year, thanks to some free ticket love from my new BFF Julie Graue, the VP of Business Operations of the Fever.

My family are Fever fans through and through. As the father of two little girls, I want them to have athletes they can look up to as role models. Hell, as the father of three kids, I want my kids to have positive role models regardless of gender and sports.

We love the Fever because they play clean, they don't get arrested, and they don't start brawls with fans in the stands, unlike some local Men-B-A teams I could name.

And unlike our Pacers, they're actually in the finals this year. I haven't seen the Pacers in the finals since Shaq and Kobe were still on speaking terms.

Tonight, the stands are full, so I brought my family to the local Buffalo Wild Wings just a mile from our house to watch the game. We're in Indianapolis (well, Fishers), it's game three of the WNBA finals, and with just a few minutes to go in the game, you'd think we'd be listening to the audio of the game, right?

Wrong.

We're listening to the Dallas-Denver game, a game between two teams that, if I got in my car now, would take me two days to reach.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a football freak and I would watch this game mostly because I don't like Dallas, and would love to see anyone stomp them. But we're missing a local professional team in their championship only because they're women?

I won't go into why I think Buffalo Wild Wing should support their local teams, but I do think it's pretty poor community relations on the part of the Buffalo Wild Wings, especially if they expect to be supported by their local community.

And I'm actually not surprised by this either. This is the same kind of attitude I've seen in the city. We expect the Simons to pay for a sports team and yet we don't come out and support them. We're proud of the Fever as a city, and yet it took Larry Bird buying the entire upper balcony of seats and giving them away for free to get people to come out for Game 3 of the Division Championships.

Are we that apathetic as a city about anyone who doesn't play football or men's basketball that we can't support them? Even the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians (another personal favorite) gets more publicity and community respect than the Fever.

There has been talk that the Fever may not even be here next season. And if that happens, I hope the Fever can go out on top, with a WNBA Championship and rub it in the faces of the city that turned their backs on them.

I've been to games where the entire upper level was nearly empty, where there were more empty seats in the lower section than there were people. We need people to get excited about the team, and to actually sink just a few bucks into a game. Hell, you can get $4 tickets on some nights, $8 on other nights. Twelve bucks will get you on the lower section if you go on the right nights.

If the Simons are able to keep the team in the city next year, take one night — just one night — and go to a game. Don't ignore them, thinking they'll never shut them down or sell them. Don't stay home, thinking someone else will fill your seat. We can't even get our local restaurants to support them during the finals, so it's going to be up to the rest of us to do it.

And I'll continue to support local restaurants who support their local teams. All their local teams.


UPDATE: The Fever just won their game, 86-85, and the entire crowd cheered for the results. So I asked the manager about it, to see if he realized that he might have made a small error in judgment. He said that while he "supports the local team," he felt he had to bow to the wishes of the Cowboys and Broncos fan who were sitting in the bar and wanted to watch that game. He was worried that the Cowboys and Broncos fans would be upset that they switched the game over to the basketball game, yet there were more people sitting in the restaurant area, and we were all cheering for the Fever.

Whatever, dude. You might have the game on on Tuesday Wednesday night, since there are no football games on, but that seems a bit fair-weather-fannish.

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10 comments:

  1. He can do whatever he wants to on Tuesday, as long as he has the Fever on Wednesday when they play game 4! [grin] Thanks for your comments, Erik. Hits the nail on the head.

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  2. Erik:
    Hate to disagree, but in my humble opinion (and possibly that of many others), the WNBA product is unwatchable. While the "Women-BA-ers" may have clean criminal records, teams must generate enough excitement to sustain a fan base. But the WNBA's paucity of slam dunks, high flying athletes, and engaging personalities seem to be dooming the league. While I never once went to a Houston Comets game (our now defunct franchise) I can't say I've ever lost one moment of sleep on that. I think it's simple supply-and-demand. Granted, you and your family (and many others) may enjoy the product; yet if it doesn't gain a city's support - much less commercial sponsorship - then perhaps the league should go the way of the USFL. It would be for the same reason no one drinks Tab anymore. Lots of better options.

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  3. Erik - I have to call out a contradiction you made here. You encourage Indy residents to get out a 'spend a little money' to support the Fever, yet, in the opening paragraph you boast that you've attended games only because of the 'free ticket love' by your buddy.

    I've been to a couple fever games. I've sat front row with tickets that I paid for. Regardless, I was bored. When I spend money on entertainment, I want just that -- to be entertained.

    I support the local BDubs manager for keeping the Dallas/Denver audio on in his restaurant. He's there to make money, and he believed he would make more money by catering to a different fan base.

    Lastly, you talk about how we 'expect' the Simon's to do this and do that. I don't expect the Simon's to do anything but run a profitable business. We're talking about capitalism. When you have a product people want, they'll pay for it. If you don't they won't.

    Pretty straight forward if you ask me.

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  4. You're right, J.Brown about the spending money vs. free tickets. I started to put a line in there that I later dropped: we were in the midst of buying a house this year, and we were avoiding all unnecessary spending we could in order to make that happen. If it hadn't been for the free tickets this year, we would not have gone.

    However, we have bought tickets in the past, and will do so again, now that we are in said house.

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  5. So true! We've gone to a bunch of Fever games and have always been disappointed in the crowd size. I wish the community would promote them more. I don't think people realize how reasonable tickets are and how much fun the games are. Thanks for writing about this! Hopefully people will read it and go to games if the Fever is around next year!

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  6. Well said Erik. The support (or lack there of) of women's sports is ridiculous. I will admit that I have only been to a couple games, and on free tickets, but the same is for me with the Pacers. We just can't afford any tickets to do anything....but I would like to when my kids are older , or even gone...when the kid expenses of child care , babysitting and diapers are gone. I can only hope that the Fever still exist here at that point.

    The BW3's manager is an idiot. He better realize that it is the local patrons, not those in Dallas that buy the food. I get it, football over basketball. I am more a football fan, too... but our local team in the finals of anything trumps all else! I don't care how many drunk Dallas fans are in the bar..tell them to move to Dallas, or go buy the NFL ticket...we are SUPPORTING THE FEVER...well, at least WE SHOULD BE!
    Well said!

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  7. Why can't Indianapolis support the Fever? It's pretty simple...We as Hoosiers understand basket ball and how it's played, and unfortunately woman just aren't that good at it. Just look at the 40% team FG percentage for the Fever. That's for one of the top two teams in the league!!! Even the Pacers are at 46%, which was tied for 18th in their respective league.

    Nobody supports it because it's not a good product. It's truly that simple. If I was the Simons I would get rid of the team. If you can't make money on a championship team, what are you going to make money on as a sports frachise?

    I applaud the manager for keeping the football game on. I'd be willing to guarantee that there was more money being spent in his restaurant by people in "fantasy" FB leagues than there was for an entire season of WNBA tickets. He was pleasing the majority, which is what he should do as a manager. If there was truly any interest in the game (by the majority of people), he would have played it. I will continue to go and enjoy the food and atmosphere of my local Buffalo Wild Wings, and applaud them for running a profitable business at the same time.

    BTW,
    I bet your not complaining about the sound during a Colt's game at your local restaurant.

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  8. @HoosierBallFan. No, I wouldn't complain about the sound being on during a Colts game. That's what I would be in there for. The same is true if I wanted to watch an Indy Indians game, a Pacers game, or a Fever game. I would be there to watch my local team.

    But, if the game that's on TV is not my local team, then I truly couldn't care any less (with a few exceptions).


    @Oberata I don't think the WNBA is unwatchable. I admit it's not as exciting as NBA with the dunks and high-flying game, but I still get excited watching two equal teams competing at their chosen sport. That's why I enjoy watching MAC football, high school basketball, or even AA minor league ball. Good sports is just good sports.

    But it's an unfair comparison to say "AA baseball is not as good as major league baseball, so I don't watch AA ball." That may be a reason not to watch it, but I think the person who says that is missing out on what is still competitive well-played ball.

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  9. I haven't supported the Fever. I also haven't supported the Pacers or the NBA is recent years. The Pacers have blemished professional basketball in Indiana. Hopefully, they'll turn things around this season. It is very exciting to see how well the Fever have done this season. However, the way all sports works is fans follow winning franchises. Sometimes the following doesn't happen until a season or two of winning. Remember when the Colts were known as the Dolts? You could get tickets to any game. Several games were blacked out those dismal seasons. WNBA, on the whole, might be a good product. Their marketing is not good. Womens college sports have come a long way. But the women NCAA post-season tournament is a relatively recent phenomenon.

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  10. NBA is boring as hell and the WNBA doubly so. I took my girls to a game thinking I could get them excited about sports and maybe pick-up a women athlete role model/hero but they were so bored with the lack of skill they wanted to leave early. I was all too eager to oblige.

    Personally I'm ready for professional sports to be a thing of the history books. Let us support our local schools athletic activities or preferably their academic programs.

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