From SABR member Cee Angi at The Platoon Advantage on August 24, 2012:
Attendance Shaming, the journalistic crime of attempting to make fans feel bad for not showing up to the ballpark, has reared its head yet again in the Chicago market. This week White Sox fans were told that they should go sit in the corner and think about what they did, or in this case didn’t do, when the New York Yankees were in town. Wednesday night’s game attendance was 26,319 as the White Sox swept the Yankees, extending their lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central to 1.5 games, and yet the narrative has been less about success on the Southside than who wasn’t there to see it.
Attendance shaming has been rampant in baseball culture over the past several years. A sparsely attended day game anywhere in the country seems to be an excuse to make value judgments about the commitment of that team’s fanbase. It’s easy to understand a soft target and the need to fill column inches, but the fundamental question of attendance shaming remains, what, if anything, of significance is being said and what is the value of counting bottoms in seats, anyway?
Convention tells us the more people at the game, the better, but the question is, better for who? For the team’s bottom line? Why is that something a non-shareholder should be concerned with? For the home team’s competitive advantage? If that were truly valuable than the Rays would go 0-81 at home. For the fan experience? You can argue that the fan experience is enhanced when one needn’t wait on line for hot dogs or the bathroom.
Putting that question aside for a moment, we should consider if attendance shaming has any basis in fact. With a variety of ways that seats can be filled, is actual physical attendance really the best metric with which to judge a fanbase’s involvement?
Originally published: August 24, 2012. Last Updated: August 24, 2012.