The age-old attendance debate has reared its ugly head again. A debate that is as old as it is dumb. And—spoiler alert—it’s really old.
While a number of people have been talking about this issue, it was a tweet I saw this morning that really struck a nerve. And I’ve always liked Kirk Herbstreit, even if he is an OSU guy.
It’s tiresome to continually defend a very passionate organization’s dedication based solely on the attendance factor. That’s like saying LeBron James doesn’t warrant accolades because of his lack of rings. That argument is one-dimensional and uneducated, if I’m being honest. There are a number of dynamics that go into why people do and do not attend games and, quite frankly, it’s none of my business either way. However, for those of us who aren’t rational enough to consider these dynamics individually, I’ll spell them out for you.
Not everybody makes Kirk Herbstreit Money. I googled it and, because the internet is always 100% fact, I learned that Mr. Herbstreit makes a metric shit-ton of money. I’m no mathematician, but with working ESPN College GameDay on Saturdays, contributing to ESPN affiliate 97.1 The Fan in Columbus occasionally, and other sporadic ESPN-related work engagements, you’d think that a Columbus resident could make it down more than, say a lot of people would. And I know a handful of people who make a 90-minute drive from various places in Ohio and Kentucky to attend a decent amount of games. Alas, I beg the question, “how many games has Kirk Herbstreit been to see ‘his’ team play?”
There are a LOT of games in a season. For those who are unaware, baseball teams play 162 games in a season. That is 6 or 7 games per week for 6 months. That’s a lot of games. Just like Joey Votto slumps, it’s no surprise that fans feel the same kind of apathy towards wanting to attend even 20 games per season. If I’m being totally honest, I start to lose a bit of interest after the All-Star Break, and it’s not easy to get back into it.
It’s really convenient to watch a game from the comfort of your own home … which is just how seemingly every critic ever chooses to hate on an organization for attendance issues. It’s really easy for others to criticize from his or her La-Z-Boy. Get to a number of games yourself and we’ll make this a real conversation. This part goes out extra loud to especially the blowhards who make a metric shit-ton of money working in the SPORTS industry. This is not a conversation that even needs to be had with that group of 1%-ers.
Speaking of working … some of us actually do that. And because most of us don’t made Kirk Herbstreit Money, it’s important that we get a decent night of sleep so that we can make it to said jobs on time in the morning. It should then feel obvious to say that we, in turn, can’t
often ever just take off for a day game.
Some people have children. I personally do not and I still find it difficult to make it to a lot of games. They’re expensive. They’re time-consuming. They happen mostly at night when said kids should be in bed. They also happen during the day when they should be at school. Additionally, you must consider things like paying for a babysitter if they will be staying home; and paying for souvenirs, food (helmet nachos!), and drinks if they go. Either way it’s not particularly convenient or inexpensive—whether kids are involved or not. They just happen to be more so when they are.
Next time you feel the need to criticize from somewhere other than GABP (that’s Great American Ball Park, for those of you “fans” who aren’t fluent in Reds acronyms), I suggest getting to games yourselves. Because, and as a friend (a friend who drives the same distance as Mr. Herbstreit would, and who goes to way more games than I do) pointed out, these home game atmospheres—despite not selling out every time—are actually quite awesome. Reds fans are passionate, and Reds fans spend a lot of time, energy, emotions, and money on their favorite team. Vocal chords, too. And as a fan who attends an above-average amount of games per year (about 15–20), and one who has spent upwards of 3% of her yearly salary on said games (including two in Denver) so far this season, I take serious offense to this.
Editor’s note: Allegedly, Kirk Herbstreit lives in Nashville.