By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) The Cubs’ apparent acquisition of Theo Epstein has dominated Chicago sports news the past few days. Robin Ventura as the unexpected new manager of the White Sox has had much of the town talking and scratching its collective head. But the city is baseballed out at this point, and while such stories are important, the average fan’s ADHD will soon have the front office moves mostly out of sight and mind until pitchers and catchers report.
The Bears are that sketchy friend accompanying you to a party who promises to behave but sometimes lets you down and ends up puking drunk all over the kitchen. This season the breakfast nook is sticky and stinky. Fans will still watch them every week, even if they’re 2-12, because its football and its bloodlust are programmed into our sports psyches.
The poor Bulls just want to play basketball, but the harsh realities of business have already made sure their first seven games won’t happen, at least not on time. Plus, the team has been handcuffed as far as offseason moves. The NBA lockout may not have come at a worse time for a city that was beginning to again warm up to its team.
So that leaves just the Blackhawks as the Chicago team with championship potential and few serious problems. When would anyone have thought that would happen?
The Hawks have always had their loyal cultish fan base, one that often prefers a clandestine, exclusive existence over what many other teams have—popularity and welcoming. It’s as if you have to somehow earn the right to root for them, and if the proper hockey merit badges haven’t been received, e.g. knowing Jocelyn Lemieux’s favorite ice cream flavor or getting high once with Bob Probert, Hawk Nation doesn’t care for you or your bad Khabibulin jersey purchase… I mean, sweater purchase.
Screw those idiot fans — those who don’t understand that bigger fan base = more money = more spending = better team. And screw them for demanding such exclusivity. “I been goin’ ta games since ’84! You just started goin when dey got Kane and Toews! You’re no real fan, [sexual and/or racial epithet].” Congrats, Jethro. You know who doesn’t care about your fan résumé besides me? Your team’s front office.
So I ask you, Misters Wirtz and McDonough, how are you going to capitalize on this situation here in Chicago? There are millions of sports fans in your backyard right now that aren’t necessarily hockey folk, yet who are itching to hitch their star to a winner. They are sports fans—they can be lured like moths to a flame. But merely putting a winner out there might not be enough.
The Blackhawks on paper appear to be headed for another run at the Stanley Cup, which for those of us already privy to the Indian is fantastic. But what about John Q. Baseball or Jane Q. Football? What about the basketball Hatfields to your hockey McCoys, two groups of very special fans who believe that to love one sport is to hate the other. If the lockout goes longer than just the first two weeks, those Hatfields will have to root for something, even if it’s for a team in their own town they’ve been illogically conditioned to at worst hate or at best show apathy.
You’re a marketing whiz, McDonough, and the time is perfect to capitalize on the already successful “One Goal” campaign and take advantage of a disappointed and starving Chicago. Wirtz will pony up whatever is necessary, I’m sure. You watched the Hawks climb out of our collective subconscious during the 09-10 season, and that was with similar circumstances we see now.
Exploit those other teams that are letting fans down. Take advantage of misery. And get dirty if need be. The Sox did it to the Cubs. Illinois and Northwestern are having a tickle fight over which is Chicago’s B1G Ten team (pssst… the city doesn’t want to own either of you, by the way).
Here, I’ll get the ball rolling:
“Hey, Bear fans, frustrated because your pouty superstar with a questionable social life can’t lead your team to the promised land? Well, the Blackhawks have the best of both worlds with the combination of Toews and Kane, and they win games, too!”
“So Bulls fans, you like a game played by thugs and Europeans, but you won’t give hockey a chance? THAT’S ALL HOCKEY HAS IS THUGS AND EUROPEANS (and Canadians, who are like diet Europeans).”
Mix in some scantily clad women, Dennis Franz, and some Hip Hop and/or Arena Rock, and you’ve got marketing gold! I told Governors State University they should have had a marketing major for me.
And see if Jim Cornelison will sing at inner city high school graduations.
The Chicago sports fan is your oyster right now, Blackhawks brass. While you’re certainly not hurting for butts in seats or TV viewers overall, more is always better, right?
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.