Thursday, January 10, 2013

welcome back

'As to this - well, we have lived so long in a garden that we have all but forgotten the common places of survival.  It was said : Si fueris Romae, Romani vivito more, and quite sensibly, too.  But it is a more fundamental expression of the same sentiment to say: If you want to keep alive in the jungle, you must live as the jungle does...' - John Wyndham, The Midwich Cuckoos
It is not surprising that we humans anthropomorphize objects of our affection.  We may love our cars, our television shows, our lamps, our favourite sports teams.  We may feel that certain inanimate objects return their "affection" by operating as they were intended to.  We may love our local franchise of a multinational coffee shop and express our affection in kindness to the people who provide us our drinks from there.  We may even become regulars and form relationships with the people who are the face of the corporation behind the counters.  In doing so, we may begin to associate further with the corporation.  In these cases, where there are human faces, anthropomorphizing a corporation perhaps becomes easier.

Brand ambassadors seems to be a phrase that is used by corporations to define those people who customers interact with.  We may be able to go as far as to say that the manager of a retail store plays a larger role as a brand ambassador than a corporate executive who manages multiple stores.

However; the 4th wall behind which our relationship with the non-human objects exists comes tumbling down at times.  In the recent case of the NHL lockout, many fans have (or will) chose to detach themselves from the sport, citing many different reasons.  All of which are valid, yet none of which exist beyond the singular "fan" and the corporate entity of the NHL.  Even though the game is played by humans, and the corporations or management is also human, the league does not need the singular human"fan". Instead, they have a relationship with "the fan", a large entity encompassing all fans, who provide the money and attention that the professional game needs to survive.   

As a "fan" realizes that the NHL machine is larger than one person, one petition, or even one small group of people, or has felt that the lack of attention they have provided the game is enough, they shall return.  Much like parents who ground their kids, when the "fan" feels the NHL has learned its lesson, it will allow the NHL to come down and rejoin the rest of the family.

There are those who will continue to stand on their reasons and stay away, but they will be outnumbered by those whose attention shifts and who come back.  And they will come back, seemingly, they always do.  Their attention spans being what they are these days with all the twitters and the youfaces.

A shiny example of how attention quickly things turn today is what happened with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their (former) general manager and president, Brian Burke. 

Many people have speculated as to the reason(s) behind the (seemingly) sudden decision by the new owners (via their boards it is assumed) to relieve Mr. Burke of his duties.  Rather than play hypothetical regarding reasons why; hypotheticals which are very hard to understand when my first hand knowledge of conversations between the parties is nil, I present the result.

The result is after 100 plus odd days of a lockout which prevented the season from starting around it's normally scheduled time, a resolution was reached.  The news regarding the reaching of the resolution lasted exactly 3 days as the headline topic of discussion/attention.  On the 4th day, in the largest media market in the country with the most fervent support of the game, the story became about 1 man versus a conglomerate/board.

If this was a litmus test to see how the NHL would fare in the eyes of "the fan", the result appears to be that the past is forgotten (at least in Toronto).  That might be more of a survival technique of Leaf fans that we need to forget the past to be able to live with the team, but the fact is there is a new story; "Why did Burke get fired?"

Feeding that story was a press conference.  In which two people were on stage; the new GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the COO.  They were well prepared as to what questions may be asked.  There was  a narrative being searched for by the journalists, for most of them the firing was a Black Swan event.

For most of us it was too, but that's because we're consumers, we're on the receiving end of the information flow.  We get told what we need to, enough to keep the interest piqued until the games start and the games again become the narrative.

It is not my game, the NHL, it is entertainment which I can choose to turn on or off.  It does not owe me anything, especially not a start date.  The game did not go as planned in the fall due to no fault of my own.  The fault lies in the game itself being broken beyond one (or two or three) lockouts.  But as I understand that in 8 years this cycle will most likely repeat itself, if the game grows in size and people want a bigger piece of the bigger pie, I also understand there is more to the game than my relationship to the game.

There are many relationships with this game, different parties needing or wanting the game to fulfill needs or wants on their ends.  The biggest reason it continues to be a success in Canada is that it fills our winter nights with entertainment.   Our jungle is dark and cold in the winter time, and the stories of truculence on the ice keep some of us entertained. 

tautology: n 1 : needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word 2 : an instance of tautology

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