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Very Late, Little to Say, But… July 1, 2009

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Noticed that Caps owner Ted Leonsis was keeping an eye on the Capitals Message Boards–what’s left of them, that is–and took offense at some of the snide comments directed his way.

The whole sorry mess is disappointing on all sides. I suspect I’m going to get in trouble for this one, but I’m going to add my two cents for whatever they may be worth.

My thoughts for Mr. Leonsis: I understand that you took extreme offense at the snarkiness directed at AOL. It’s your pride and joy; it’s helped make you who you are today; and it is part of the reason the Internet took off the way it did. It is an American success story, your American success story, and standing up to defend your legacy and your company against, admittedly, idiotic remarks is a very noble, very laudable instinct. But these sorts of inanities aren’t entirely unheard of on the Caps Message Boards, which I skim and sometimes post on. They can be a little rough around the edges, yes. But sometimes, the best rebuke to ignorance…is to ignore it. Your well-intended defense of your company could have been read by some as protesting too much, I fear.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”–Matthew 5:38-41, NRSV

That’s hard to live up to, I know–I’m not saying I always manage it myself (perfect I ain’t). But the challenge is there, isn’t it? This might have been better ignored as the folly it was.

To my fellow Caps fans: I don’t know if you saw this in the ESPN rankings that just came out, but out of a hundred and some-odd teams in all four major sports, our ownership ranked #5. (Might that be the real reason Ted linked to that story?) 😉 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we are extremely lucky to have the ownership that we now enjoy. (Disclosure: I have been a guest in the owner’s box. Ted’s also said some very kind things about me on his blog.) There are very few team owners with an open Inbox policy. Not every owner gets it, as Ted does, that it’s best to leave the sports decisions to the sports people (cf. Angelos, Peter).

It takes an incredible amount of personal success to end up as majority owner of a sports team. I’ve never had to sign anyone’s paycheck in my life, and I sort of doubt I ever will. Insult me howsoever you please, but I think it indecorous in the extreme to be so demeaning of the man who, you know, signs Alex Ovechkin’s nine million dollar paycheck.

That’s not meant to say that Mr. Leonsis should be completely above all criticism. That’s meant to say, rather, that I think it’s only civilized for us to be respectful of men and women of high station. We can do better. We must do better. Or scurrilous mockery from the safety and comfort of distant computer desks will turn us all into Philistines with keyboards.

“A slip on the pavement is better than a slip of the tongue; the downfall of the wicked will occur just as speedily. A coarse person is like an inappropriate story, continually on the lips of the ignorant. A proverb from a fool’s lips will be rejected, for he does not tell it at the proper time.”–Sirach 20:18-20, NRSV

Caps fans, we can, and must, be more loving–to our team, and to each other. I’ve said it before, and I’m probably going to have to keep on saying it for a very long time. Aren’t we all fans of the same team? Don’t we all want to see the Caps hoist the Stanley Cup? Don’t we all have at least that much in common?

Look, I’m no saint. I’m not even in the same time zone as perfect, all right? But I know we can, and should, strive to be better than this. And while I stand by my remarks that some ignorance ought to be ignored, the better solution would be for us, as fans, to end the ignorance. We can be so much better than this. It breaks my heart to say that, the way things stand right now, I really think we’re not.




1. PKitty - July 3, 2009

That’s just it – we do love our team and each other. That last should be obvious simply by how many of us rose to the defense of our fellow board members.

What we don’t love is being treated like mushrooms – kept in the dark and fed a load of crap. And that is what it’s been like for quite some time.

CapitalSpirit - July 4, 2009

And now, curiouser and curiouser, the entire board has been taken offline for the weekend–just as the Caps hit one out of the park on the first day of free agency, and we actually have something positive to discuss this offseason.

I don’t like it that much, either, I do have to confess. But if they’re rolling out new boards–which I suspect is what’s going on–then it’s better to do it over the summer than right in the middle of the season. Explanations have been admittedly slow in coming, I’ll give you that, and the board leadership can be puzzling at times. But I’m not sure what’s to be gained by treating members as badly as all that. It makes no business sense whatsoever. I do agree that explanations from management would be nice more often than not.

That does not, however, excuse some of the conduct which transpires on the boards. Some of the loutishness that’s gone on has gone too far on several occasions, and I can understand the mindset of management on wanting to put us all on time-out. I don’t like it either, but if it gets those who return to behave in a polite and civil manner, it’s to the long-term good.

Thanks for stopping by.–CS

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