I used to sit back and feel sorry for myself for being an avid Buffalo sports fan. I thought: Woe is me; why can’t we ever get it right? All of the armchair quarterbacking and woulda, coulda, shouldas just increased my frustration even more. That was the past, but this is the present.
If I learned anything from the Sabres’ Larry Quinn and the Bills’ bean counters, it’s that professional sports is a business first to them, and everything else, including the fans, is a distant second. I do understand and actually accept this for what it is. That said, I have evolved into a business fan myself.
Back in the mid ’70s, I was a season ticket holder for the Sabres. Just when it looked like they had a Stanley Cup in their grasp, they lost to Philly. Yet instead of adding the one or two players they needed to win, the team began to trim the roster.
I understood; it was a business decision. So I made mine accordingly, and I dropped my Sabres tickets. I picked up Bills season tickets in 1979 and kept them for 29 years. A move to Michigan in 1981 for two years did not deter me. I still made the six-hour drive, coming back for every home game.
For some reason, that business decision was blindly affected by my thinking that the Bills were somehow on their way. Those thoughts abruptly ended when I found the Bills were on their way all right – on their way to Toronto. That is a business decision that I will never forgive the Bills for. Enough was enough. I realized that my other beloved team had also sold out for money.
It is because of this pro sports attitude and my lessons learned that I thought it best to change and become the new business model fan. No, not the fan who complains about everything, yet hypocritically runs to be the first in line for tickets.
I prefer using the NHL and the NFL the way they used me back when I was an extremely loyal fan. It is great to be able to run my fantasy sports leagues and not care how the teams fare. Rooting for players instead of teams is the new norm. I don’t need to worry about how the Bills fill their coaching staff or the untouchable and endless employment of the Sabres R&R show.
Since I no longer buy tickets, I can leach off all of the teams via my fantasy sports. I feel no need to chase the other lemmings; no need to feel the pain and disappointment while following everyone off the cliff of despair.
Don’t get me wrong, I will forever be a very big fan of both the Sabres and the Bills and I root for them like I did in the past. Unfortunately, as a business fan, I must remain emotionally detached to the best of my ability. That is what good businesses do.
So to Eric Wood and Ryan Miller, kudos for sincerely treating the public as if you cared about the fans, unlike the NFL and the NHL. For that, I personally want to thank you both. For anyone who thinks the NHL really cared about the fans during the lockout, get real. Those PR apologies are shallow and shameful – a move designed to make them, not the fans, feel better.
The reason I say this is that the lockout did not have to happen. But greed and egos ran their typical course, which seems like the normal business model anyway.
So my message to the NHL: Shut up with the apologies and just play. As a business fan, I’m busy running my fantasy leagues.