This morning’s Chipper Jones post, in which he called out Braves fans for not showing up and/or not being loud, has brought out the usual comments we see whenever attendance comes up. “Braves fans suck!” is a pretty well-worn trope around these parts. As are the more nuanced comments which attempt to equate a team’s worthiness and quality with the fervor of its fan base.
I always scratched my head at these things. I mean, I know the Braves don’t draw people. I know that some teams always draw people. I wish my team had a rockin’ stadium every night, but it never has, likely never will and, given the Braves success over the past 20 years, it doesn’t really matter. It certainly doesn’t affect my affection for the team, so why does anyone else care?
Cee Angi of The Platoon Advantage wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. She called the phenomenon “Attendance Shaming,” and like me wonders why in the hell it’s even a thing. After analyzing what we’re really talking about when we talk about poor attendance, using the White Sox as an example, she concludes thusly:
In the end, there’s no accounting for taste, and you can’t blame the consumer for not liking the product as much as you think they should, for whatever reason. But again, unless you’re Jerry Reindorf’s wallet (which Forbes says is flush with cash), why should we care anyway? The focus of fans should remain on Win-Loss records, not attendance records. Spinning turnstyles is not a civic duty, particularly not in a time of economic distress. Whether he does so or not is between him, his God, and Jerry Reinsdorf.
But hey, if it makes you feel better that your team draws well — if you think being “a better fan” makes you a better person — by all means, continue to care about such things. Just, please, explain to me why in the hell it should matter to anyone else?
Oh, and finally: if you still insist on pointing to attendance as a signifier of your worth, at least use a better number than total butts in seats. Use attendance relative to stadium capacity, which Carson Cistulli looks at over at FanGraphs today.