The Bush League

It’s a rare occasion when a professional sports franchise actually does something for their fans. This week, acknowledging that Red Sox Nation was having a tough time dealing with the recession, the Boston hierarchy decided to give their fans a break and freeze ticket prices for this season. Isn’t that nice of them? No, not really. The Sox, who have the highest ticket prices in baseball today, have raised ticket prices for 14 consecutive years. Did they really throw the best fans in baseball a bone by freezing ticket prices for one year? Wouldn’t it have been a better gesture to actually drop ticket prices, even just a few bucks? It really would not have been that costly for the Sox to drop ticket prices slightly, seeing as how they make only a small percentage of revenue through their ticket prices. What about the cash-flow they receive from NESN? And how many T-shirt jerseys have they sold in Olympia sports apparel stores over the last 10 years? My cousin actually bought a Mientkiewicz (I spelled that in one try, I kid you not) shirt at a trip to Boston in 2004. They are banking off this phenomenon. I bet they could pay Jacoby Ellsbury purely on his T-shirt jersey revenue alone. To be fair, at least the Sox are doing something – however minor this ‘something’ is – in an effort to help out their fans. The same can’t be said in Detroit. Detroit Free Press writer Drew Sharp argued last week in favor of lifting the blackout rule in Detroit, a rule mandated by the NFL stating that if a team does not sell out their home game for that week, the game will be blacked out in the local area. His reasoning? The Lions are beyond awful (0-10), thus fans aren’t showing up to games because they don’t have the money to splurge on witnessing another 34-10 loss. The economic crisis has hit Motown especially hard because of their ties to the slumping (and that’s a HUGE understatement) auto industry, and fans don’t have the disposable income they once did to waste on Culpepper jerseys. Sharp believes that the NFL should at least allow the 10 or 11 remaining Lions fans to watch the game on TV, and I absolutely agree with him. Though I would take this a step further and argue that local Detroit TV stations should instead broadcast old Barry Sanders highlights rather than the Lions’ Sunday crapfest. It gets worse in Philly, where the World Champion Phillies actually had the balls to raise ticket prices. Lame. The point is, without fans, there is NO money to be made in sports. Nada. So, when fans are strapped for cash but franchises are still running at major surpluses, doesn’t it make too much sense for Franchise X to help out their fans so as to preserve their fan-base in the long run, even if it costs them a few unnecessary bucks now? Next year, the Sox will play 81 games at Fenway Park. Like every year, I can afford to go to just one of these games. Perhaps if the Sox clipped tickets even slightly, I might be able to catch two games. But of course I’m asking way too much. After all, I’m just a fan.