The Charlie Brown Syndrome

I’ve wanted to write a blog about this for some time, actually. The urge is generally motivated by people questioning the lack of fan attendance or lack of faith and support of our fan base.  I have no idea if this is unique to Cincinnati sports teams, nor am I a license psychologist. What I can tell you is how I feel and how I think other fans from Cincinnati feel.

For me—I love my Reds and Bengals. I’m born and raised on the west side of Cincinnati, youngest of 7 kids, German-Irish heritage (like 75% of the city- that’s just a guess there).  I was born in 1974—so I technically was around for the Big Red Machine, but obviously I don’t have much memory of it. I grew up in the 80s, which saw the Bengals make 2 trips to the Super Bowl, only to lose BOTH times to the San Francisco (f*cking) 49ers.  I watched on TV Pete Rose’s 4192 hit and reveled in the 1990 Wire-to-Wire season. But since then…. What has Cincinnati sports given us since that 1990 World Series sweep? Heartbreak and disappointment a majority of the time.

Pete Rose banned from baseball.

Revolving door of coaches/managers for both the Reds and Bengals.

A few seasons of excellence… only to lose in the playoffs.

Both the Reds and Bengals in 2012 showed promise to go far in the playoffs— both came up short.

The List can go on and on…….

As a fan—I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football at the last moment. I’m sure there are those who say “I’m not going to fall for it again”—just like Charlie…and yet every year, some get sucked back in because there is a glimmer of hope.

But fans get tired of constant disappointment—just like you would in a bad relationship.  It’s easier to close off your heart rather than risk getting hurt again.

See, I don’t think Cincinnati Sports fans aren’t apathetic—quite the opposite; they are very passionate about their teams.  But for some, the heartache is too much to handle year after year.  Hence… the immediate cries for changes, the constant complaining, the quick jump off the proverbial bridge— I suppose the feeling of “I told you so” feels better than “damn it, they let me down again.”

Like I said, I don’t know if it’s the same in other cities—because honestly, I don’t care. But the question does come up because people (media especially), complain about low attendance at games and try to understand why fans don’t come to games like they do in other cities.  Obviously, the big comparison is ALWAYS St. Louis and their attendance.

So—why don’t fans come out to games in Cincinnati? Here’s some of my reasons—games during the school year are hard to manage when you have kids since kids need to get homework done and most parents prefer to keep their kids on a schedule and get plenty of sleep; finances—yes, tickets are relatively cheap, however there’s gas, parking, food and drinks involved as well; my kid doesn’t always want to go to the game; and finally, sometimes I have other things I have planned. There’s what, 80+ games at home, vs. 8 Bengals home games. There’s a lot more opportunity to see a Reds game rather than a Bengals football game.  I don’t necessarily believe the hype that Cincinnati is more a football town than it is a baseball town—it’s the simple concept of supply and demand. More baseball games than football games.

Also, I feel like that social media is great for bringing fans together, it also is “great” for bringing the negativity together—the “I told you so” crowd’s collective voice gets louder through social media.

So, why does St. Louis draw more regular crowds to games—regardless of the day of the week or time of year?  Do they not give a shit about their kids and their education needs?  Are they wealthier than Cincinnatians? Are their tickets and concessions cheaper?  Is there nothing else to do in St. Louis?  I don’t know the answer to these questions. The one thing I do know—unfortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals have a longer and more consistent history of having winning seasons.

St. Louis doesn’t have as many Charlie Browns.  It’s easier to cheer for a team that regularly wins.

How do we get rid of the Charlie Brown Syndrome? Is it on the teams to help break us of this syndrome—to not be Lucy and yank the ball away? Is it on us as fans to keep the faith that Lucy will keep the ball set just one time?  I don’t know the answer.

All I know is I’m doing my best to break free from the Charlie Brown syndrome by staying positive and generate positivity among fans.  It would help if the Reds and Bengals keep playing strong— and I think we are getting there. Reds and Bengals ownership the past few years have made great strides to produce quality teams—ones we can believe in again.

Give us Cincy sports fans a little more time…and some more wins.

–          Not really Amber

Follow me on Twitter at @I_Sell_Drywall


2 thoughts on “The Charlie Brown Syndrome

  1. Its interesting I was percolating on this earlier. The one thing I kept thinking about was population difference.
    The metro area population difference is ridiculous! Cincy metro area population is 2.2 million StL metro area is 2.8 million. That’s huuuuuge.

    The other difference and I don’t want to sound negative but the reds sucked for forever basically.
    StL has been competitive at least ever since they got Big Mac which btw the attendance jumped by 4000 in 98.

  2. This is interesting and something I have thought about many times before. When I used to live in Detroit I saw the same thing happen at Tigers vs Lions games. I agree with the Charlie Brown factor. The Tigers were so bad for so long it really took a string of a few good years for them to get the attendance back up. On the other hand the Lions played games in the Silverdome which held over 90,000 and they sold out alot!! But then they had Barry Sanders at the time as well. lol. All I can do is quote one of the most awesome movies EVER… “If they build it, they will come.” Meaning if they start building up some wins and getting in the hunt for a championship, the fans will come.

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