The Art of Throwing in the Towel

Imagine you’re seated at your kitchen table and you open the local paper to see that management of your favorite sports team has deemed that they will not be competitive this season. No, this is not a behind-the-scenes tabloid report. Instead, this is a full-page ad taken out by ownership to set expectations for the upcoming season. This is not an imaginativescenario for Minnesota Timberwolves fans, as they have seen an ad alerting them that this season is all for nothing.

Could that happen in Detroit? There’s nothing stopping the Ilitches, Fords or Davidsons from placing something in the Free Press or News alerting their depleting fan bases to “pending doom.” While such an ideal may seem out of line, could such a move draw respect from fans? Why have the illusion that your team will have a good season and then lose 119 games, go 0-16, or be eliminated from playoff contention in February? With fans keeping an eye on every dollar spent, finding that unique separation between being respectful of the current economic climate and total profit gain is always a fine line.

This balance is also seen in the amount of “fair weather” fans a city may inhabit. It was at the turn of the decade when attendance at Tigers and Pistons games was paltry at best. Even as of this past year, the Red Wings had their tickets dramatically reduced in price, bringing in new fans to the Joe. Competitiveness will, more times than not, draw well at the turnstiles. The Catch 22 is something that must drive ownership batty on a daily basis. And in Minnesota, it drove one owner to nip all competive speculation in the bud.

Minnesota Timberwolves President David Kahn and Coach Kurt Rambis