My friend Clark Griffith was involved for many years in major league baseball. His family owned the Washington Senators, then the Minnesota Twins, for close to a century. Clark at one time more or less ran the Twins, and he played a major role in marketing Major League Baseball as well. Some say that the concept of standardizing team logos and making money by putting them on hats, shirts and jackets originated with Clark. Clark wrote in response to my post on fans avoiding woke baseball:
John, I became Vice Chair of Major League Baseball Promotion Corporation in 1976. My intent was to turn it into a marketing, broadcast and publishing company. My first act was to engage in a major audience survey. Nothing like that had ever been done before. We were searching for the reasons people attended games.
The most remarkable fact we discovered was that people attended for the thrill, of course, but also to avoid the real world of politics, crime, etc. People wanted to go to games and sit with fans and immerse themselves in the event. They could sit with their political adversaries and enjoy the time together without concern for anything other than the play on the field.
I lectured owners and GMs on this subject and they all adopted a “no politics” anywhere near the game approach.
This principle remained in place, although few remember the origin or purpose, until this season. I have warned an owner or two of the existential threat to the game of overt embrace of political slogans and positions.
Sadly, woke commissioners and owners have ignored the rule and I do think it presents an existential threat. They will catch on soon, but it will take courage to erase BLM from the pitcher’s mound and elsewhere, or other symbols of woke reality from fields, uniforms and, most importantly, from the players commentary and actions. I’m not sure that can be found today. There was a bond between fans and teams that may be lost forever.
I hope that doesn’t turn out to be true, but speaking for myself, the bond with my team pretty much went up in smoke when the Twins went woke.