Monday, September 12, 2011

Converting the Unconvertible...

A lot has been made of the beleaguered Blue Jackets, fighting to survive in an Ohio State College Football Town. I've already self-confessed to being one of these "Buckeye born and bred" types and, in addition to my ramblings, many have stated a case that this just might be the year that some Buckeyes convert over to realizing what a gem we have in a local NHL team...between NCAA sanctions and the promise that lies in the recent CBJ off-season signings, some have posited that we might be able to turn a few scarlet and grey heads...

But those were the logical arguments. This past weekend, I had a revelation of the more important kind...the "Fan" kind, the heart kind.

Friday was Fan Fest. An event that I thoroughly enjoyed - for many reasons OTHER than just seeing Derek twice, seriously. (We'll talk about that later ;) ) At Fan Fest, we, as a fan community, had unprecedented access to a variety of team resources and every player that was in town participated - in multiple ways. There were activities for every type of fan - "i want a picture" "i want an autograph" "i am 4 and i want to try and shoot a goal" "oh look! hotdogs!" and every single person I met, including fellow fans was polite and fun to be around.

Saturday, I went to the Ohio State game.

I sat there and watched a couple hundred kids play football. They felt "apart". The field there felt more distant than the ice in NWA. That wall between row 1AAA and the field, may as well be 80 feet tall. Now, more then ever, the NCAA issues have brought down a cloud of "look but don't touch" around the team, and now there is a constant questioning (and blame-placing) of every single thing that's going on behind the scenes. I also sat through an entire first quarter where the majority of the fans (and not just around me this time) couldn't be bothered to cheer because they were too busy glad-handing the "Friend" walking up and down the aisles.

Then it dawned on me. How today's "Buckeye Fan" would love the Jackets. Guys who are so desperate to get close to high quality athletes that they will hand envelopes of cash under the table - or across the tattoo parlor counter as the case may be - could have easily hobnobbed with even Jeff Carter less than 24 hours ago. Instead of hearing "the 100's of things you can't do as an Ohio State fan", the CBJ fan is hearing come out - participate (buy tickets!) but we'll appreciate you. For right now, we've got a team looking to build relationships with their fans - and practicing what they preach. And, at least in the NHL, its all out in the open when it comes to the benjamins - oh, and hey, you can drink right out in the open at CBJ games.

Oh sure - the "you want what you can't have" argument looms large. And yes, we still have the "success" issue...but really, if they'd just give it a chance, arguably the Ohio State fan might find themselves much more satisfied in the world of NHL - where you can offer a guy a drink if you see him in a local restaurant or bar, where, by the way, he's allowed to be, can probably afford to be (legally), oh and legitimately can have a drink or two. If you think buying a player something will ingratiate yourself to him, then by all means do it. You can say you know someone, drop names to your friends, and its not quite as ridiculous when the guy is in his mid to late 20's versus 18. And, you just might find yourself liking a new sport, versus going mainly "because everyone who's someone will be there".

I dunno. Maybe its just me - but Friday night sure felt a lot better than Saturday...and that had nothing to do with the score.

Let's Go Jackets! #CalltoArms

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