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Playoff move a bad precedent

by Josh Stein
June 22, 2007 - Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) - Port Huron Pirates

The potential for a highly dangerous precedent is staged to be set in the coming few weeks. The Port Huron Pirates, because "fans won't support us," have moved to Flint for the playoffs (and presumably beyond).

Why is this a dangerous precedent? What happens if Flint draws well for these playoff games? Any team that doesn't do enough to market the game in their original market will see that they can find the grass greener somewhere the playoffs!

This isn't like the NIFL's rule allowing teams to sell their home playoff games to the visitor if both agree on it (which is a death knell for any home team as well). This is worse. Not only are you flipping the middle finger to the fans that supported your team, you're flipping the middle finger to any fan base that might be "too small."

Which is a crock, and everyone reading this column knows it.

Look at the 1,200 fans that came to games in Port Huron. Most all of them sang the same basic tune: "The team isn't marketing at all here." Combine that with the fact the team hasn't had a competitive game since 2006, and you've got a recipe for a lot of people not bothering to show up. Rather uninteresting product (though the fans responded quite well when the team bothered to put local kids on the field...shocker) plus extremely lackluster marketing equals poor support.

Think about this. How many organizations in indoor football don't bother to advertise or market or anything of that sort? Yes, I know, "one" is too many, and the true answer is probably closer to "thirty." How many of them draw the 1,200-plus fans the Pirates drew per game...even considering they knew the team was a lame duck for the Blue Water Area for their last three home games? Yeah, exactly. Probably not one of them drew more than the 1,200 the Pirates managed.

And they're blaming the fans of the area for not showing up. GIVE THEM A REASON TO SHOW UP! This isn't Wal-Mart, people. You can't create something and BOOM, everyone shows up. You have to market it, and you have to give people a reason to come. A complete lack of marketing, a lack of exciting games, and a lack of any sort of local presence doesn't quite accomplish that.

One fan commented on the Port Huron Times Herald's comments section: "The last home game had a half-time show of little kids running willy-nilly on the field. That kind of thing can be found anywhere for free." Indoor football is an event. Like was said there...if they can find this kind of stuff for free (and you can find it for free by watching ESPN2 on Monday nights, too, though obviously a slightly different game), they will find it for free.

The moral of the story: Don't blame the fans for your failures. It is the team's job to give the fans a reason to come. It is not the fans' job to come just because it's there to come to.

I feel most sorry for Matt Schoch, the Pirates beat writer for the Times Herald. There probably isn't a better beat writer at this level for any team, and I hope he gets the shot to move up to a higher league, because he's earned it. And he said it best with his likely-last-line about the Pirates: "Flint is getting a quality football team, one that will likely win them our championship about a month from now. But if they think they are getting a team totally committed to their community, they are wrong. That's fool's gold."

He's right. The Pirates have proven they aren't at all committed to their community, and the CIFL has proven they aren't committed, either, with their complete lack of any action to stop this travesty from taking place (a simple "if you do this, your playoff games are all on the road" would have probably sufficed).

What will this mean for the game in the future? Hopefully not much, but if this is the kind of crap leagues are going to allow, then it's time for the organizations that care about their fan bases to look for greener pastures. And I don't mean moving to a new city come playoff time.

If you have any questions about anything I wrote in here, or want to add something for next week, do it! Email me at [email protected] Until next week, this is the war Between the Walls.

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