Fans For Change: Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em?
Some Pittsburgh Pirate fans are frustrated and they are planning a walkout June 30th after the third inning as their statement of protest.
So I decided to ask others what they thought of the walkout and/or boycott idea (the complete email of each respondent are listed in the comment section):
"[M]y advice to Pirates fans is to stop going to the game until they make an effort to field a winner. You should be aware, the outcome might be that they move the team from Pittsburgh." — Sports Economist David J. Berri; Associate Professor of Economics, California State University-Bakersfield; author at The Sports Economist
"So, in terms of sports teams, I have to conclude that fan boycotts are not in the best interests of the fans involved. The best thing for fans to do is stand by their team and attend games regardless of the team record, thus helping the team afford the players they need and preventing a move." — Fred Taub, President, Boycott Watch
"All a fan can do is vote with his $$. The worst thing to do if you don’t like the product is to hand the the owner your money. A boycott is just an organized way of sending the same message." — Sports Economist Raymond D. Sauer, Jr; Chair, Department of Economics, Clemson University; ; author at The Sports Economist
"I’m not a fan of boycotts." — Mark Cuban
"Protesting, while a sign of solidarity and something that shows the level of frustration that the current Pirates ownership has rightfully driven its core constituency to, it is, none the less, a fruitless endeavor. If the Pirates ownership has been unwilling to right their own ship after all these years of poor returns on the field, I doubt anything short of a citywide protest will register to the point of action on their part." – Maury Brown, Biz of Baseball
Michael Keaton, Dennis Miller, and a few local attorneys who practice mediation, have all declined to respond to my question up to this point.
Although every one of them is deeply passionate on the subject, some believe one road is correct, others believe in another path, and some prefer to not get involved.
And that’s exactly why walkouts fail – there’s no cohesion.
Bob Smizik said in his article:
"[Nutting] does not deserve to be boycotted.. Anyone who wants to boycott all of Nutting’s businesses needs to take a serious look at their life."
Obviously Mr. Smizik tempered his boycott response while applauding the walkout concept.
Nutting’s product most certainly deserves to be boycotted if those who purchase it are that dissatisfied and desire to. Plus, anyone with a brain knows the way you bring the enemy to their knees is to cut off their supply chain.
That’s basic warfare.
But that’s also my second point – there is no identifiable goal in the walkout.
The "Fans For Change" flyer advertising the walkout indicates they simply want to make a statement showing their displeasure with the Pirates ownership for not fielding a competitive product.
That’s hardly warfare, especially when they first hand over their hard earned cash to those they are protesting to watch what they feel is a non-competitive team battle. Why not just stand up at the end of the 3rd, face CEO Kevin McClatchy in his seat or box, and chant over and over "I’m mad as ****" instead?
So I take it the fans aren’t really at a boycott stage just yet. They are simply being loud while trying to show their anger. Will that do anything?
No, of course not.
The Pirates ownership group is not going to back down to a bunch of fans whose only interest is the fact they are angry. The only way to ever bring the group to their knees is to first understand capitalism.
Watch how fast McClatchy implements change if all of a sudden The McClatchy Company lost 10% of it’s stock value from a boycott, or how fast Nutting implements change if Pennsylvania residents boycott Seven Springs for a season or two.
It’s all about the risks and rewards. The Pirates ownership group was willing to take all the risks buying the team and now they are benefiting from the rewards. Kudos to them.
Ask a Marlins, Orioles, or Rays fan who participated in all the franchise walkouts the last few years if they have seen any changes.
Walkouts don’t work.
However, if Pirate fans are willing to take the risks associated with a boycott in potentially seeing the franchise moved, a few jobs lost, or business in the downtown corridor come to a crawl on game day, then they very well might reap years of rewards after a new CEO is put in place, a new GM hired, and the franchise take a new direction.
Ask any fan who boycotted the Tigers in 2002 – 2003 after eight consecutive losing seasons and then saw them reload in 2004 and make it to the World Series two years later.
Boycotts can work.
But Nutting is surely betting you’ll stand pat and buy another ticket to one of his bobblehead giveaway promotions so you can walk out.