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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Opinion: A Redskins Fan No More, Or How Dan Snyder Made A Grandma Cry

By Scott Nance

We're not serious sports fans, but being as my wife's from Baltimore and I've lived most of the last 15 years around Washington, DC, a little friendly rivalry developed.

She'd root for the Orioles and Ravens; I'd side with the Nationals and Redskins. We'd rib each other, with our Baltimore-born daughter usually chiming in on her mother's side. It was all in good fun.

Today, though, I'm as committed a Ravens fan as you can find. The Washington Redskins — and owner Dan Snyder — can count me out.

Somehow I figure I'm not the only one, either. Most anyone who saw the same huge photo of a weeping Pat Hill on the front page of today's Washington Post likely feels the same way.

The Post reported how the Redskins filed suit against the 72-year-old Hill and others like her who could no longer afford the expensive tickets they had purchased in advance years earlier in better economic times.

But there Hill sat in that picture of her crying amid all of the Redskins memorabilia she'd collected over decades of being a serious fan.

Hill and others tried to work things out with team, but were served with lawsuits, instead. Hill, a real estate agent whose business went bust with the recession, couldn't even afford to hire an attorney to defend herself.

She didn't even try to fight the suit. In the end, a judge granted the Redskins a $66,364 default judgment against Hill. Today, Hill faces bankruptcy.

In an industry where it can be make or break for a team based on superior relations with its home community, this is the kind of support Snyder offers.

The lawsuits aren't even recouping the lost ticket revenue for the 'Skins — the team's attorney admits in the Post that "Getting a judgment is not getting paid."

The Post goes on to document where tickets forfeited by impoverished fans actually got resold to brokers and others anyway. So Snyder is still selling his tickets, so what's the point to sue?

The 'Skins lawyer claims that all teams sue in such circumstances. The Post proves otherwise, reporting that many NFL teams do not sue fans who can't pay for big-dollar tickets. (I'm proud to say my Ravens are on that do-not-sue list.)

Somebody in the Redskins' operation wasn't putting two and two together — that these lawsuits against fans facing hard times were just going to add up to enough bad publicity to fill FedEx Field.

Well, that's just what the 'Skins and Mr. Snyder have now. Where's the revenue upside in that?

If this is how the team treats its fans, would you really want to be a fan anymore?

Stay away. For that matter, stay away from Six Flags, too. (Snyder also owns the amusement park chain.) Give your business to those organizations that show a little more compassion during the worst recession we've seen since the Great Depression.

I could go on, but I've got to go find that Ravens jersey my wife bought me.

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