I had a whole different post prepared for this week, but the Chief’s penchant for secrecy keeps irritating me. It took today for my thoughts to galvanize on the subject. Bloggers tend to be among the most hard-core of fans. Regardless of if I agree with your opinions or if you show up to Arrowhead with a toilet seat around your neck, I respect the fan that sticks with their team, win or lose. In my opinion, bloggers are a canary in the coal mine for football fans. Since Clark Hunt went off into his undisclosed location and conducted a stealth set of interviews for a new GM, the blogger tone started to shift, and not in a good way.
The NFL has become successful due to rabid hard core fans buying tickets and merchandise. Also, the casual fan has to be engaged. This combination has helped to make the NFL highly successful. Surely you don’t think all these uniform changes and retro uniform days are about anything else but marketing additional stuff to fans? The NFL has many of us hooked and needs to keep us hooked as our economy continues to struggle.
However, this secrecy may have the effect of driving away fans. Hardcore fans tend to think of their team in terms of ‘we’ and ‘us’. This is a great thing for the NFL. Fans that feel a part of the team are less likely to turn away and more likely to dedicate their own scarcer resources to feeding the bloated NFL beast. Now, when the Chiefs start guarding basic information like coaches’ roles and act like every scrap of information is on the level of war secrets, they chip away at that fan loyalty. Here is the bottom line. When you are this secretive, you are acting as if you believe your fans are the enemy. When you treat fans that way, they are less likely to think of the team as ‘we’ or ‘us’. Instead, you become a ‘them’. A ‘them’ is much easier to dismiss than an ‘us’. For example, my wife and I talk about the Chiefs fairly often. I have noticed myself referring to the Chiefs much more as ‘the Chiefs’ or ‘they’ or ‘them’. The words ‘we’ and ‘us’ are becoming less common.
So, this is a message to Kremlin Scott, Clark Hunt and anyone else who thinks they are running the invasion of Europe in WW2. You are losing fan identity with the way you are conducting your business. You are abusing a precious gift. Once that gift is lost, it is very hard to get back. Mess with player access during training camp, especially family fun night and I will be one pissed off blogger. Guys, you are leading a team with a rabid, loyal fan base that is dying to support you. Treat us like we are part of the family. We are your life bread. Respect us, do not dismiss us. For what we give, I don’t think that is asking too much.