Friday, January 27, 2012

Why I'll be protesting on Saturday

About halfway through writing my Big Question post, it hit me: I'm pushing myself toward participation in Saturday's Columbus Blue Jackets fan protest.  So it only makes sense that I take a blog post to discuss the matter from my perspective.

I write all this not to sway anyone's opinion one way or another.  If you agree with me and want to join in, I'll see you on Saturday.  If you disagree, I hope that this post helps you understand my actions.

Do public protests work?  Ask the Tea Party, who fueled
a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.
I am a firm and unwavering believer in the power of public protest.  The fact of the matter is that protests often work.  Protests change the dynamic of human dialogue.  They grab attention.  They make those in power uncomfortable.  They are factors in driving change.  Let's look at some examples:
  • Tea Party protests fueled a change in control of Congress and helped heal a fractured political party.  
  • The "Occupy" movement of protests helped reshape the public dialogue on the discussion of class in America.  
  • In the world of professional sports, the "Millen Man March" was a contributing factor in focusing public pressure on the inept management of the Detroit Lions by Matt Millen.
  • Closer to the NHL, Montreal fans are raising cain over the lack of their beloved French language by Les Habitants.  
A public protest may not be a form of behavior that is to everyone's liking - especially in a society that has been conditioned to be passive and conflict-averse - but it does work.

Now let's be honest: Protesting over the way a form of entertainment is being delivered to us - in a world where there are much meatier and weightier issues to warrant virulent protest - is kind of silly.  But taking that to its extreme, that also makes the time and attention that I (and my compadres, but I do not wish to drag them into this particular post) put into this blog seem silly, too.  Sure, it's bread and circuses, but I've planted my emotional flag with the Blue Jackets.  So if I'm going to get out and protest, it might as well be something I care about.

And I do care.

I care about the fact that the McConnell family and their partners are trying to do something good for the City of Columbus and the State of Ohio.

I care about the fact that despite their opening the organizational wallet further than it's ever gone in the history of the franchise, their efforts yielded some of the worst results in the history of the franchise.

I genuinely feel bad for McConnell et al.  The owners are doing their part, but their hockey operations hires are failing them. Miserably.

And as a Franklin County taxpayer, I want to see my new investment of a hockey arena yield the highest possible return for the people of Franklin County.  This whole "professional hockey team in Columbus" thing no longer is a strictly private venture.  We're all in this mess now, so we'd best face up to our obligations.

I care about viable, successful elite-level professional hockey in Columbus.  As you can tell from the last few posts, everything after that is fungible.  I root for the logo on the front, not the names on the backs...or on the desk nameplates.

I do not see this particular protest as the ideal vehicle to advance the cause of a sea change in executive leadership of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  I agree largely with the sentiments of Matt Wagner at The Cannon, who suggests that protests at the owners' places of work would be more likely to grab the attention of the people who need to be swayed.  Protesting in front of the arena offers symbolism but not much more.

Despite my misgivings, I recall Voltaire's saying, "Perfect is the enemy of the good".  In a diverse society like ours, I doubt the perfect protest ever will happen - but that's not a good reason to not protest if you believe in the cause.  That there are people of like mind with me, gathering to advance an issue with which I agree...well, that's enough.  I should join in.

So I will stand with those who care like I do.  Hopefully, our efforts will contribute toward positive change with the hockey team about which I care so much.


  1. Great take, Tom. A wise man once said "Hatred is not the opposite of love; apathy is." Call it a protest or whatever else, but a gathering of people to show that they care is what it really is, and everyone - the organization, the fans, the media and anyone else who cares about the CBJ - should be glad that people still care at this point.

  2. Great to hear you'll be there! What a sobering thought: the last time that CBJ fans and bloggers got together in a manner like this was for "Cannonfest". And we gather then and gather now for the same reason: we love this team and want to show that we support them.

  3. How many of these people wanted Hitch fired, or we're happy with the Carter trade? The Wiz signing? Mason getting a contract after his Calder year?

    Ownership wants your dollars, not your "two cents". If you aren't happy don't give them money.

  4. Greg - Thank you for your apt amplification of my points.


    Nathan - So glad you brought up the CannonFest analogy. In many ways, this is a similar independent demonstration of loyalty to the concept of winning professional hockey in Central Ohio. The circumstances are different, granted, but the underlying point is the same.


    Dutchman - Money is a component, but simply walking away without registering a protest feels (to me) like just giving up. And when you give up on the team, they won't think twice before giving up on the community. I'm not yet ready to give up.

    A protest, on the other hand, is a doubling down of the fan base. It expresses dissatisfaction while allowing those in power (who SHOULD be made much less comfortable by the protest) the option of changing things for the better.

    But that's my opinion.

  5. Well said. I have similar feelings. I don't think this is the ideal way to get the changes I want to see, but what else can the average fan do? I'll be there, if only to show solidarity in the frustration.

  6. I am in favor of this protest. Unfortunately I type this from a hotel room in Nashville where my youngest will don hockey gear for battle against the evil Nashville empire on Saturday morning. I will so miss being brought hot coffee and donuts by Howson and Priest or maybe even Little Mac himself. Will this change anything with the way the organization runs? Probably not, but when it all boils down those of us that bleed CBJ pretty much love any opportunity to get together and talk hockey. This season is over. The point as I see it is a VERY early kickoff to the 2012-13 season. As Morgan Freeman said in Shawshank.......


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