Thursday, March 15, 2007

If You've Got Browns Tickets, March is the Cruelest Month

The poet T.S. Eliot once wrote that April is the cruelest month. He obviously wasn't a Browns season ticket holder, otherwise my guess is that he'd have given the nod to March. Why? Because that's when the bill for next year's season tickets arrives. Whatever their on-field shortcomings, when it comes to getting an invoice out promptly, the Browns are usually as reliable as death, taxes, and a six yard curl pattern on 3rd and seven. Sure enough, the bill for my season tickets arrived in Monday's mail.

The invoice arrives in what looks like a glossy new car brochure filled with action shots and earnest quotes from Phil Savage about the team's commitment to improvement. The brochure highlights all sorts of benefits that are available to season ticket holders who are willing to spend the money on them. Some of these, such as a $15 draft day party at the Stadium, sound like they actually might be kind of fun. Others have that "you've gotta be kidding me!" quality that reminds you that loge owners get the same brochure that you do. Events like the $5,000 per foursome golf outing fall into this latter category.

Anyway, despite the sugar coating, there's no getting around the fact that the bill's arrival means it's time for season ticket holders to once again "assume the position." One small silver lining is that the Browns decided not to raise ticket prices this year, despite pressure from the league to do so. I suppose you could argue that they deserve some grudging credit for holding the line on ticket prices, but on the other hand, how much credit do you give somebody for not being delusional?

Let's face it, things have reached the point where if they raised ticket prices, a lot of fans simply would not pay them. All the positive spin and glossy packaging in the world can't change the fact that season ticket holders annually spend a hell of a lot of coin on a team that continues to be godawful almost a decade after we first plunked down PSL money.

Now, you may think I'm leading up to some kind of rant about how I've had it and I'm about to turn in my tickets. Nope. I'm in again. That's not because I've enjoyed much of what I've seen on the field over the past several years. Far from it. No, it's because like a lot of you, I remember what it used to be like. So like I do every year, I'll talk myself into believing that this will be the year that the Browns I remember will be back, and I'll throw my check into the mail.

But those memories that keep long-time fans coming back are fading, and the Browns haven't given younger fans much in terms of memories at all. It's awful hard for young fans to warm up to a team that's been bad for as long as they can remember, and even those of us who can remember better days will acknowledge that we don't have the emotional investment in this team that we had in the old Browns. There's an Invasion of the Body Snatchers feel to this team--sure, they still wear brown and orange, but while our Browns were all about blue collar players and gritty football, these Browns have been all about slick packaging and shitty football.

I hope that the Browns understand this. Yeah, I'll pay up again and I'm betting that most other season ticket holders will do the same, but even the NFL's most loyal and long-suffering fans will eventually reach a point where they just don't give a damn anymore. I think that point may be nearer than the team might like to believe that it is. The Cleveland Browns need to improve, and they need to do it this year.


Anonymous said...

my envelope hasn't arrived yet, thank god -- that moment is my annual face in the gutter moment -- the consistently soul-crushing moment when i realize i will, once again, send hard-earned cash to a collection of imbeciles so i can watch their latest assembly of 'talent' march across the field to their slaughter. hey, at least there'll be a new funny mcdonalds' commercial with braylon edwards soon. and i can't wait to see if the 'STAND UP IT'S THIRD DOWN' guy renews his tickets.

go browns.

Anonymous said...

Try JCU or CWRU football...the talent level is similar...and the fans better looking.