The Redskins fanbase is dead -- so reports the Wall Street Journal.
In an article that takes the misery foisted on Skins fans to the nation, Reed Albergotti writes:
"But this season, something seems to have changed. It's not that the Redskins are 3-7 and headed for oblivion—the team has had only three winning seasons since 1999. It's that the complaints many fans and former players are hurling at the team seem to suggest something more serious is happening: that its essence—whatever it is that made the Redskins "the Redskins"—has gone away."
It's a franchise, he argues, that's teetering on the brink of losing a fanbase. Panic!
It's certainly a challenging season -- from the record, to the bingo-calling, to the injuries to the sign brouhaha -- but are the Redskins going away, as he suggests?
Here's his evidence:
TV ratings are basically constant. Fans are complaining about prices. (Hey, that's an original complaint!) And, well, that's about all the evidence he has. Compelling, isn't it?
But he does have anecdotes!
One is from a Redskins "historian" who says that this might be one of the team's worst seasons. OK, but that doesn't have anything to do with the fanbase.
One is from an attention-craving former Skins great (Riggo) who's been lobbing whatever he can at the team: "It's very possible that the ownership of this team has ruptured themselves in a way with the fans where a lot of them are through." But even that's qualified with a "possible." When your star witness can't be certain, it's not much of a trial.
Oh, and then there's the local Congressman who laments that the Skins don't "stand for something." As opposed to all those other teams that represent liberty, honor or... it's a stupid football team. It doesn't represent anything larger beyond large people pounding other large people for our enjoyment.
Worse, he argues that the presence of the Washington Nationals -- yes, the Nats! -- could take away some of the Skins' fanbase. We'll pause here while you catch your breath from laughing.
He also contends that the Caps' recent winning streak is siphoning away fans. Sure, there are more Caps fans now, but how many people have become Caps fans at the expense of Skins fans? Most people would retain loyalty to both.
There's no doubt that it's been a challenging season, and one where the fans have gone into hibernation. But that's just it; they're not dead. They're just waiting for a winner, ready for the team to show some passion and give them something -- anything! -- to root for.
At the last home game, even though there was hardly anybody in the stands by the end, the crowd roared as loudly as it had all season, even with all those negatives swirling.
Skins fans aren't dead. The fanbase isn't going away. They're just biding some time until there's something worth taking the time to cheer about.