Friday, March 09, 2007

Viking Fan Apathy

Tom Powers' column today addresses a ridiculous conspiracy theory that the Wilf Group is intentionally killing fan enthusiasm for the Vikings so it will be easy for them to leave town. Powers isn't promoting the the theory but it has legs because whether it's intentional or not they are killing fan interest for the Vikings in this state.

It wasn't more than 2 years ago that the Vikings dominated this town. The Twins could win the World Series, the Gopher football team could be going to the Rose bowl and the Wild could be making a run at The Cup, but if the Vikings were playing the Texans, letting their 3rd string K go or signing their 7th round draft pick to a contract and that would dominate the headlines. But that is slowly going away.

The Vikings are fortunate that nobody with the exception of the Twins have mustered any sort of sustainable success.

  • Gopher Football has moved from terrible to mediocre, but that isn't exactly filling the seats at the Dome.
  • Twins have been very successful winning 3 of the last 4 division titles but going down early in the playoffs are thwarting their momentum.
  • Gopher hockey is strong but that fan base is always going to be smaller and more niche.
  • Wild are still parading as a building expansion team and have enjoyed a long honeymoon. But here again regardless of their success at best their Minnesota Sports domination will only last during the playoffs.
  • Gopher Basketball is capable of taking over the town but in their current state they are miles away from that, step 1 for them is to get 14,000 fans back into The Barn.
  • Timberwolves have potential but they would need to be successful over several seasons (note to Kevin McHale, 8th seed and losing 1st round may get you ranked #1 amongst all GMs, but that is not "successful").
What is my point? Well the point is that if the Vikings aren't careful they will lose their crown of top dog in the Minnesota sports scene. And that is a crown they have worn for decades. It has weathered 2 Twins' World Series titles, 4 Super Bowl losses, 2 NFC Championship disappointments (Drew Pearson pushed off!), a Gopher basketball Final Four run (er, wait, I mean that never happened), and a Gopher Football Rose bowl victory (er, wait, I mean that REALLY never happened).

The Twins, Gopher football and Gopher basketball are really the only teams that could ever overtake the Vikings.
  • The Twins are closing the gap. 4 straight successful seasons and a dynamic young nucleus of Santana, Mauer, Morneau, Nathan etc mean they could be great for the next several seasons. They have a new stadium coming which will make for an exciting 2010 season. If they were to go out and win the 2007 World Series they would make a serious dent in the Vikings #1 ranking.
  • Gopher football is poised to go from mediocre to good, and if we are lucky, great. New coach and new stadium could be a catalyst to move up the list. Gopher football could take over faster than the Twins and Tim Brewster has said all the right things to move Gopher Nation into #1 in this state.
  • Gopher basketball could, but they would need a decade of success including a couple (few) Final Four runs. But recruiting news and a long season could be interesting enough news to captivate the masses.
The teams listed above cannot take over #1 on their own, they need a collapse by the Vikings and that is happening. After dominating in the 70s, late 80s, early and then late 90s they have now strung together 6 mediocre seasons. Beyond their lackluster play they have jettisoned or lost but not replaced any superstars that we once enjoyed watching. They gave us a likable but an "in over his head" head coach in Tice, then followed him up with a boring and vanilla coach who hasn't shown he's above mediocrity in Brad the Red Hot Childress Pepper.

They now have their hats hung on a D1aa QB who nobody knows anything about to go with an offensive core that includes Bobby Wade and Visanthe Shiancoe as their newest additions. And a defense that is very good but skitzo. This team is boring, their moves are boring, their players are boring, their stadium is boring, Brad the Red Hot Childress Pepper is boring and if they are not careful everyone is going to ignore them.

Outrage and disgust are signs of passion and shows that people still care. I don't see emotion surrounding this team anymore. Nobody cares and apathy is the worst thing a franchise can be faced with because you cannot endure and survive (or get stadium built).

No comments:

Kool Aid Drinkers