The more I see from the Washington Capitals organization, the more I believe that every sports franchise should send its top dogs to Ted Leonsis to learn his ways. Here is the new video that fans at the Verizon Center get to see before each game.
If you don’t see a self-fulfilling prophesy there, you’re not looking hard enough. Ted Leonsis has built a stable organization that embraces not only its fans but new media outlets like Japers’ Rink, On Frozen Blog, and Russian Machine Never Breaks. He understands that fans don’t embrace a team, but the players on that team and so he has gotten players who are both highly-skilled and who embrace the area and the fans. He’s active in the community and the team follows suit. He’s built a relationship with hockey fans in Washington, which is far more than the other big-name sports owner in town has done.
His efforts have borne fruit. Capitals games almost always sell out and, save for the occasional game here or there, opposing teams don’t get many folks rooting for them at The Phone Booth. Caps fans are devoted and eager to introduce new fans to the team and the sport.
On the other hand, the Washington Redskins, who currently own the hearts of DC sports fans, is losing its grip thanks in large part to Dan Snyder, who acts as if ‘Skins fans are wallets with feet. It also doesn’t help that he seems unable to put a quality team on the field and has some sort of strange aversion to building a stable organization. This year’s incarnation of Danny’s Fantasy Team is as bad as any in the past ten years. The new management has jettisoned players who embodied the Redskins identity and doesn’t seem to have any interest in giving the fans an emotional investment in the team at all. To Snyder, it’s all business. It’s an approach that has long-time Redskins fans just like me wondering why we get so het up about whether the team wins or loses.
Washington, DC isn’t a hockey town right now, not by a long shot. But it does get a bit closer every year thanks to Leonsis’ relentless happiness.