While working on our series on the Rams' rise up ESPN's Ultimate Franchise Rankings (part 1, part 2, part 3), we discovered an interesting little statistical tidbit. The Rams' ranking on "Fan Relations" leaped forward from 110th out of 122 teams to 68th... still below average across all sports, but just outside the top ten of all NFL teams.
ESPN's metric is supposed to quantify "openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management."
And according to fan surveys by Maddock Douglas and NetReflector, which contributed to this metric, the NFL just doesn't get it.
Of course, maybe we don't need a fan survey to tell us this. Not when Commissioner Roger Goodell is busy informing season ticket holders that "The Lockout is for the fans' own good." This is his argument, cited (and then torn to shreds) by Yahoo's Doug Farrar:
"We can't continue to shift the cost, whether it's the rising player cost or the rising cost of operating an NFL franchise, on to our fans," he said. "That's why we're trying to get a better economic model."
That's all well and good, but Fan Relations, as measured in this poll, has nothing at all to do with costs. It has to do with how you treat people.
Specifically, they asked about fans' perceptions of player conduct on and off the field (a personal bugaboo of Goodell's), appreciation shown from the teams to the fans, accessibility to the fans, and listening to fan feedback. Pretty simple stuff, but why so many teams in the nation's most successful sport can't figure it out is beyond me.
Here's what the Rams are doing right, and what so much of the league is doing wrong: