Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

May 8, 2013

ROOT: One ugly circle

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The dynamic between Western New York’s professional sports teams and its fans is frightening to watch. Most Buffalo sports fans feel comfortable expressing opinions without giving those opinions any thought at all. As a matter of fact, most Buffalo sports fans feel comfortable expressing nearly violent opinions on the sports teams regardless as to whether or not those opinions have any basis in fact at all.

Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, is a study in how sports in Buffalo affects people. I believe Pegula when he says that he is a lifelong fan of the Sabres. I believe him when he tells stories of finding shelter under a bridge somewhere just to listen to Sabres games on the radio. I also believed his emotion when he was faced with meeting the French Connection for the first time as the owner of the team.

I also believe that Terry Pegula got in way over his head and had no idea what he was doing when he promised “Hockey Heaven” and a Stanley Cup in three years. There are two things working against Buffalo at all times; the economy and the sports fans. If Pegula wants to attract the kind of talent the team needs to win a championship, he is going to need to convince the biggest names in the game that the fans in Buffalo are worth putting up with while also finding ways to navigate our troubled economy.

Most millionaire athletes and coaches should be able to handle a slightly crippled economy because they are rich, right? The athletes and coaches are rich, but the rest of the area is not. Athletes want endorsement deals and sources of extra revenue to come to an area. We cannot offer that. Plus, we always fawn over big name athletes like they are some kind of golden gods. I am still embarrassed at the way we rolled out the red carpet for a washed up Terrell Owens before he had actually accomplished anything here.

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