I have a question: If the Columbus Blue Jackets won a game at Nationwide Arena, and there was nobody there to witness it, does it still count? If that’s the case, how do we know the Jackets aren’t on a winning streak?
Union and Blue’s Nathan King wrote about the lackluster #DefendNWA campaign. While I agree that it’s the best route to go, it’s not off to the best start. But why? Common sense would say it’s because we haven’t been winning. Okay, common sense is common sense for a reason. But I’ll ask you this: are we not winning because of attendance?
I’m not making excuses. If you’ve read any of my writing, you know that to be the case. And before you comment and say “people will show up when we start winning” take a step back and analyze the situation.
The problem with protesting is that it’s not always perceived the way you want it to be. Attendance is usually black and white. When they say only 11,427 people were at the game, they don’t give an explanation. They don’t’ say “well, 6,528 of those empty seats are from protesters who aren’t coming back until the product on the ice changes.” More often than not, low attendance is a sign of disinterest, which is the exact opposite intent.
Then there comes the idea of “supporting your team.” But what does that mean? Is it blind loyalty as was the case in Toronto and Montreal? If you sell out every single game no matter what the product on the ice looks like, what’s your ultimate incentive to get better? There seems to be no good answers.
While, no, the team isn’t losing because of the low attendance, it’s a huge factor. It can’t be easy to get pumped up when not only half the arena is empty, but half the crowd is wearing the other team’s sweaters. But I’m not blaming the fans. I’m also not blaming the on ice product. It goes deeper than that.
What are fans supposed to do when their team keeps losing? While showing up no matter what is a sign of loyalty, so could not showing up. The Jackets drop their 5th straight and you think “I’ll show up when they do.” Fair enough.You’re trying to send a message. But while that sounds good in your head, it doesn’t sound good in the record books, and it definitely doesn’t look good on television.
While you’re protesting the poor play, other cities still look to Columbus as a poor hockey market. They don’t know you’re absent because “you just can’t take it anymore.” They just know you’re absent. They don’t care why. Because perception is that you don’t care. And perception is all that matters.