When a team sucks, it’s never the fans’ fault

(This post is part of a fundraiser for 826 Boston, a non-profit tutoring and writing center. For $50, readers can get me to write anything about hockey they want, so donate today to make me say stuff by clicking here. I probably don’t believe the nonsense below, which was requested by 67Sound.)

One of the things that makes me the most upset when consuming hockey media in all its forms is when writers get really lazy in their coming up with the hows and whys of such-and-such a thing having happened. These are often referred to as “narratives” but I’m not sure that such a thing is always necessarily as negative as people make them out to be. They, however, often lazy.

Such an issue arose in Toronto last month, when, in the midst of an awful losing slump in which the Leafs predictably found themselves mired, Eric Prime of Sportsnet 590 — which I’m sure is just coincidentally the radio home of the Maple Leafs — ripped into the fans (1, 2, 3, 4, all [sic]’d) for not supporting the team following a game in which they were booed off the ice.

“Why do they lose confidence? Why do they have no chance? Because at the first sign of trouble, #Leafs Nation attacks.”

Well, no. They lose confidence because they lose hockey games, at that time often by a wide margin, and getting embarrassed in the process. They have no chance because they were built by a moron and are coached by an idiot.

(This kind of thing was also brought up in Philadelphia when Ilya Bryzgalov began the work of tanking that contract in earnest, and fans booed him. The Philly media carrying water for the team? Well I never.)

Of course, blaming the fans for a team’s difficulties is not the provenance of lazy sports gabbers alone; players and coaches do it as well. After all, how else can you explain the reaction to the Oilers fan throwing a jersey on the ice earlier this season, or how the Flames reacted when one of their supporters did the same last year?

Let’s be perfectly clear here: Bad teams lose not because the fans don’t support them, but because they are bad. And so it’s important for people to put themselves in the shoes of those booers and jersey-throwers: They just paid a few days’ salary to get out to the game and see their favorite team. Then their favorite team takes a dump in a box and express ships it to their front door. They have a right to be disgusted.

A thing you always hear in these situations is that, “Fans paid their money and they can do what they want, but…” and it’s important to keep in mind that anything after the “but” is a load of crap.

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One thought on “When a team sucks, it’s never the fans’ fault

  1. Al

    We hockey fans in Atlanta (there are a lot of us, more than anyone gives us credit for) still read stories and hear some markets drone on about how we lost our team due to being “bad fans”… Horrible ownership, one of the worst GM’s in any sport and a commissioner who went silent when we needed him to step up (like he did for EVERY other market that was in jeopardy) are the reasons why we have to settle for ECHL hockey. We supported our team till the end, but all we hear is that it was all our fault. Would love it if the truth came out to the markets that still mock us, but they’d never want to hear the truth anyways . It’s easier to just blame the fans.


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