Causal DC Sports Fandom Apparent At Caps Games

DC Sports Nexus ---- Thursday, December 15, 2011

DC, A Causal Sports Town:

There are three levels of fans in DC sports.  Each tier isn’t really an absolute.  It is more like a scale where you are closer to one pole or the other.

On one extreme, there is the die-hard fan.  This fan will watch every single game, attend as many games as possible, and read about the team every day.  It takes a lot of time and energy to be one of these fans, which most of us in the DC area don’t have.  These people NEVER abandon the team.

On the other extreme is the causal fan.  These fans follow the teams like they are rumors.  Often saying “I heard the team was winning/losing” instead of actually knowing if the team is winning/losing.  These fans attend games as more of a social thing.  They may catch a game on tv here and there but they prefer a summary of the game rather than spending time paying attention to the whole thing.

Somewhere in between die hard and causal is the typical DC sports fan.  This section is defined by a simple rule.  When the team is winning, more are interested in watching games.  When the team is losing, more lose interest in watching games.  If you are closer to the top of this level, it means it will take a lot of losses til you jump ship.  The bottom end, you are out after a few loses.

My First Caps Game:

The first game I attended was a game against the Florida Panthers back in mid-October.  Going into the game the Caps were 5-0 and on their way to the first 7-0 start in franchise history…

As the metro doors opened, a sea of red flooded out of the train cars and on to the mezzanine.  I pushed my way through the crowded swarm of people in red attire and made my way up the escalator and onto H Street.

It was a random Tuesday night in the city, but Chinatown acted like it didn’t get the memo.  I was a part of the crowd that was erupting from the underground tunnels and flowing swiftly towards the Verizon Center.  It was a human lava flow crawling down 7th street, consuming wary bar-goers as they stumbled out of Chinatown’s plethora of restaurants and bars, transporting them to the brightly lit arena.

Inside of the Verizon Center the excitement level was high.  While the people in my row stood up to make room so I could pass by them, I noticed that just about every seat in the arena was occupied, and the game hadn’t even started yet.  By the time the opening video had played and the faceoff was about to begin, the crowd was amped and ready to go.  The entire arena was blanketed in red, an amazing thing to see.

During the game the decibel level in the arena was at a constant high.  I could barely hear my friend next to me as he fool heartedly tried to teach a poor hockey-watching amateur some of the nuances of the game.  Whenever a big play would happen the crowd would explode into a frenzy; screaming, jumping, and going crazy.  As the horn was blown three time, the sound of  “Let’s Go Caps” echoed throughout the arena.

My Second Caps Game:

The second game I attended was a game against the Flyers just 2 months later in mid-December.  Going into this game the Caps were 15-13 and had a new coach…

As the metro doors opened, a few people in Caps jerseys mixed in with some Flyers jerseys stepped out of the train and on to the metro plaza.

Again it was a random Tuesday night in the city, but this time the streets weren’t really bustling as more people were walking down the metro stairs than up it.  There was a fairly large crowd of people dressed in red headed down 7th street towards the arena, but this crowd didn’t have the same excitement and eagerness.

Inside the Verizon Center the crowd was large but relatively tame. There were many more empty seats than before and what used to be a sea of red now had orange splotches throughout.  The decibel level was low enough to hear the conversations of the disinterested fans in my section and the chants of “Let’s Go Caps” were overshadowed by the chants of “Let’s Go Flyers”.

Casual Caps Fans:

From what I saw from attending two different games at two different stages of the Capitals season, the Caps are not immune to the DC standard of the casual sports fan.  Because the Caps have had several playoff seasons in a row, they are not witnessing as big of an effect as the other losing teams in the area.   However with enough time and enough losses, Verizon could continue to follow the pattern that is currently occuring.  That is just one reason the Caps need to turn it around.

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