1.) The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in America. Every Sunday (and some scattered Thursday and Monday evenings), tens of thousands of people pour into stadia around the country to observe an NFL game firsthand.
2.) The St. Louis Rams have not had a winning season since 2003. There are kids in high school in St. Louis who have no idea what it is like to watch a winning football team. Many of their parents, who grew up in St. Louis, have similar memories of the St. Louis Cardinals (football type) who had just two winning seasons from 1977-1987 before relocating to Arizona.
3.) So for any St. Louis-area fans who have exclusively followed the team in their home market since 1977, they have seen:
- 31 seasons of NFL football (this 2015 season would be the 32nd)
- Six seasons which ended with winning records
- A combined record of 203-280-3
- A five-year run from 2007-2011 with a combined record of 15-65, the worst five-year run in NFL history
- An eight-year run during which the Rams' offense has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in either points, yards or both. The 2015 Rams currently rank 30th in points and 31st in yards. That is in the bottom third
4.) The St. Louis Rams play their home games in the Edward Jones Dome, opened in 1995. The Rams state the EJD's capacity for football game configurations at 66,000. It is the ninth-smallest stadium in the NFL in 2015.
5.) The owner of the St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke, has made some not so subtle business transactions that suggest he is hoping to relocate the franchise to Los Angeles, California.
6.) The convergence of all of those data points might suggest that local fans would be less than eager to money, actual legal tender, to go to the Edward Jones Dome to watch the St. Louis Rams play football. They might suggest that perhaps there are reasons beyond whether or not the city "supports" the football team or whether it is a "baseball town" at hand.
7.) People who get paid money, actual legal tender, to discuss sports could be expected to be aware of the above data points when discussing the nature of supporting a sports franchise, especially in a manner as specious as a photograph taken before a game has even started.
8.) Those people are not ESPN's John Clayton, ESPN's Josina Anderson or the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh (I could add ESPN's Darren Rovell here, but you could generally add him as a reference to anything bad about sports. He's like butter for bad sports. There's always room.)
Amazing to see how small the crowd is here in St. Louis for an opener. I know fans are upset but this is a good team.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) September 13, 2015
9.) In one case, you have a pathetically unaware John Clayton. As someone paid by ESPN to remain abreast of NFL information, you would think he would have sufficient levels of it to not be amazed at the lack of local support early on in games.
In another, you have the disingenuous reporting from Josina Anderson. A picture of a near-empty stadium before kickoff isn't indicative of a single causality.
In the final case, you just have blatant dishonest stupidity from a columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
10.) Here is a picture of the Miami Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium minutes before a game:
Here is a report of the crowd at FedEx Field this weekend where Washington plays:
Seeing a few Saints fans in crowd, but overall not many. Lot of empty seats in lower bowl again. Another 50K or so crowd.— Rick Snider (@Snide_Remarks) November 15, 2015
Here's the crowd at kickoff in Week 9 at Levi's Stadium, the still-brand new home for the San Francisco 49ers who won 44 games from 2011-2014 and included three trips to the NFC Championship as well as an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII:
Official kickoff photo pic.twitter.com/DNqQbcb8NJ— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 8, 2015
11.) Sports attendance is a fluid thing. In the modern era of convenience where the NFL RedZone and NFL Sunday Ticket and a bevy of less legal providers offer NFL fans the opportunity to watch any and every game from home at much less expense and hassle than to watch it in person, it is either ignorant, disingenuous or purposefully stupid and dishonest.
12.) By the way, the stadium was pretty packed on Sunday, as per usual. It's the damn NFL.
Dome in Stl is packed and rocking pic.twitter.com/jbbGOMkS50— Dan Quick (@DQ8) November 15, 2015
Please join me in congratulating the Turf Show Times Hall Of Stupids Class of 2015.
(UPDATED at 3:31pm ET)
We would like to congratulate Rich Walsh, of Pittsburgh's KDKA, as the Fan Nomination for the Turf Show Times Hall Of Stupids Class of 2015. (h/t @bwilga)
This is seriously embarrassing... I can't believe this is an NFL game. There is no way this team is here next year pic.twitter.com/utjR00dOZu— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) September 27, 2015