Sometimes you post something and you really don't know if it works or if it is going to flop horribly. Here at the Wave we have had both. Some articles take off and go viral and some are barely noticed. It is the nature of the beast. We accept it. We accept the good with the bad and try and let it roll off our backs.
Yesterday I posted a piece called "About That Toronto Game." It was basically a ‘three thoughts' segment of what I saw from the Colorado Rapids match and what my observations were. Nothing Earth shattering and really just another look a the game. See, that's what we do here: give our opinion on the match and hopefully you like it. Maybe you don't agree with it, but hopefully it's something that you can say, "OK, John is full of shit here, but I get where he is coming from."
And so with that Toronto piece I brought up the fan attendance numbers, or lack thereof, on Saturday night. 10,772 was the official total, or about 7,300 under capacity. That is very poor and it is something that should be concerning. As I argued, it was a night that featured the return of Drew Moor and Clint Irwin and featured the Major League Soccer MVP, Sebastian Giovinco. Let alone USMNT players Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
It should have been a night that drew splendidly well.
And yet the park was 60% full.
So what happened?
In my article I talked about the moves that the front office are making. They have signed Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard. These are big time moves from the Rapids and you can argue, and it will continued to be argued, whether these were the right moves for this club. But my point was that the Rapids are making these moves, in part, to bring more people to the park. You may not like the players or may not like the moves, but a big part is to bring excitement to the Rapids and Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
But if the park is full, what kind of fans are those that are making the trek out to Commerce City. I would think that the fans that are coming out now are fans that will be with the this team (for the most part) through thick and thin. The fans that are coming out to see Jones and Howard are, for the lack of a better term, more casual fans. They may not know soccer all that well, but they know who Jones is and they sure as heck have an idea of who the Secretary of Defense is.
But are those the fans we want?
I'm not a soccer expert. I write for a blog because I love this team and I try to be good natured about it.
And while the atmosphere may be diluted with "casual fans" they offer something this team does not have readily: a full house at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
I have been to DSGP when it is full. It is an electric atmosphere that is ON PAR with any other soccer facility in MLS. Yep, I said it: it is on par with everyone else. When Centennial 38 is out there in full voice and has the Tifo going and is dancing and singing, the place is great. But it's even better full.
And those casual fans can help to do that. Certainly there is education that goes with the casual fans. Maybe they don't know what a supporters group is. Maybe they think that soccer fans are all hooligans. But that is our responsibility to educate those folks. Show them a great time and make them want to come back. Not for Jones or Howard, but because Dick's Sporting Goods Park is a destination for quality sport and quality entertainment.
If we treat those fans with respect, kindness and friendship they will come back. If Centennial 38 and Stout Street Supporters offer their takes on the Supporters Culture and welcome the "casual fans" in those casual fans can become permanent fans and supporters.
Some will argue that this is the responsibility of the Front Office. Some will say "it's not my place to get those people to come to more games." I get that. And I get the current level of skepticism with some fans. But if we have a casual fan, or a fan coming to their first game, is it too much to ask to welcome them warmly. Is it too much to ask to show them how wonderful the Beautiful Game is here in Colorado?
It's time to get past the bitterness at the Front Office. It's time to get past any resentment you may have towards a blog, a supporters group, a person. It's time to band together and support this team and welcome these casual fans to DSGP. As one supporters group:
A group that supports the Colorado Rapids as a whole.