Washington Redskins fans are among the most loyal in professional football. They might not be as vocal as Dallas fans, or as rabid as Philadelphia and Chicago fans, but they are intensely loyal to their team. They stand by their ‘Skins’ in good times and bad, whether the team is winning or losing, and even fervently defend the frankly insulting team name, which is a slap in the face of all Native Americans.
Game days in Washington, DC, see a veritable ocean of Redskins purple on the city’s metro system as legions of devotees crowd the subway to make their way to FedEx Field. The stadium during home games is a monochromatic palette, and I’ve even seen fans weep when the Redskins lose a game.
One would think that in the face of such fan devotion, it would be reciprocated by the team and its management. One would be totally wrong.
According to a recent series of articles in the Washington Post, and other local media, the way the Redskins repay fan loyalty is to sue those who find themselves in the current economic climate unable to keep up payments on long-term contracts for premium boxes or season tickets.
We’re not just talking here about lobbyists or big companies that buy sky boxes to impress clients either. Oh, no; the Redskins go after everyone and anyone who owes them money, from the 72-year-old woman facing bankruptcy, who can no longer pay her rent much less keep up the $5,300-a-year contract on her end zone seats, to the guy who has been jailed and obviously can no longer afford to pay on his contract.
The Redskins’ philosophy seems to be, ‘it’s not our job to determine if you can afford to pay when you sign the contract.’ Sign up for a long-term commitment to the Washington team, and even if you suffer a financial disaster and might be in danger of losing your business or home, they expect you to pay. Your problems are your, not theirs. During the last five years, the Redskins have filed 137 lawsuits against defaulting ticket holders according to the Washington Post report. Worse, they have also sold tickets to brokers rather than fans, leaving people who want to see games to repurchase seats at inflated scalper prices.
Despite such shoddy treatment, many fans remain loyal. Despite how terrible it looks, the Redskins have been unapologetic. Looking at this situation from the perspective of someone who is not a fan, it is inexplicable. One wonders: is it something in the water?