The passion you have for your team is unquestionable. If you can't make it to the game, you watch on television and when you're in the car - you're listening on the radio. You buy the hats, jerseys, sweatshirts, blankets, mugs, banners, grill covers, license plates, chip bowls, dip bowls and doggie sweaters (ok, maybe you draw the line at doggie sweaters, but you get the point). You're a diehard fan.
One of the most overused phrases in sports is, "We have the greatest fans in the world." Do they mean or is it strictly about generating revenue? Outside of winning games, how can you tell if your favorite team/sports franchise really cares about you? Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself in determining if your team is "returning the love":
1) Do they take your loyalty for granted?
Does ownership invest money back into the team in an attempt to create a contender or do they pocket a majority of the profit? What's a hot dog cost in relation to the same hot dog in other ballparks/ stadiums in that particular area? All of this information is very easy to obtain online.
2) Do they listen to fan suggestions?
I know firsthand that there are professional sports teams that will alter a policy, procedure and even part of their venue if they receive enough suggestions about it. There are others teams that believe they know better and will continue business as usual no matter what. What does your team do?
3) How do they handle questions and complaints?
If you've ever communicated your displeasure to your team regarding a particular trade, player signing, poor performance or even a negative experience at the venue, what's been the response? Did anyone respond to your voicemail, email or letter? If you're professional in your communication to any business, sports teams included, it's reasonable to expect a response even if it's not immediate.
4) How do they handle autographs?
If you or your child sends something to a ballpark or stadium to be autographed by a player (not recommending you do this as things do get lost in the mail), do you get a response even if it's a letter explaining why they could not accommodate? If you're attending a game is there something set up so young fans can get near the players to make autograph requests?
5) Do they go the extra mile?
In general, sports franchises have been slower than traditional businesses in maximizing their customer service/ fan appreciation efforts. Why? Because from a business perspective (at least as was the old way of thinking), if the team is winning then fans are coming to games, watching on tv, buying merchandise etc...If the team is losing then it doesn't matter because you're going to lose that support anyways. Most teams have changed this way of thinking, developed ways to show fans that their support is appreciated and now understand that a more thoughtful approach will benefit them long-term.
If you're anything like me, your team is your team and you're going to stick with them through the wins, losses, ownership changes and player controversies. I would never suggest that anyone change allegiances because they ate a bad hot dog and nobody cared to hear about it. However, I would suggest that it never hurts to evaluate what you're getting back in return for your emotional and financial investment into your favorite sports team.