For the majority of you who read this blog and who root for the Indianapolis Colts, much of this criticism does not apply to you. Also, if you are a young fan, such as writer Stew Blake (yes Stew, I consider you VERY young), and the only quarterback you've ever known to lead your Colts was one Peyton Manning, I don't think this applies to you either.
This is for all the phony fans who opted not to renew season tickets last year after the Colts franchise's only lousy season (2-14) in ten years. To use a few labels borrowed from Anthony Schoettle at the IBJ, it's you "soft, weak and downright too-hard-to-please" types are the reason everyone calls our market fickle and fair weather. When the meme circulates that Indianapolis wasn't a Colts town, but was, in fact, a Peyton Manning town, that meme was addressed to you.
For the first time since 2003, Colts season tickets will be available. This is because there was only an 87% renewal of season tickets for 2012. As a result, this exhausted a waiting list that, for years, was at or around 10,000. According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts had sold out 113 of 114 games since 1999, including 79 straight. The last non-sellout was a September 21st, 2003 game against the Jaguars.
This means that even after the disaster that was the 2001 season (a 6-10 fright fest where the Colts defense surrendered an average of 30 points per game), season tickets still held firm.
So, why did roughly 10,000 fans simply give up on the Colts after just one bad year? Because they weren't fans of the Colts at all. They were fans of Peyton Manning, and only Peyton Manning. What this means is Indiana most certainly isn't a football state. It's not a sports state period.
It's a shallow market only interested in star power. It's Los Angeles, sans the movie stars, night clubs, and good Mexican food.
Seriously folks. Look at markets like Kansas City, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh. All are comparable to Indianapolis and, over the past 14 years or so, only the Steelers rival the Colts in terms of on-the-field success. Yet, despite a market like K.C. not having a playoff winning team since 1992, they don't seem to have the same sorts of ticket renewal problems Indianapolis does.
Don't give me "It's the economy, stupid!" excuse. The economy is actually on the rise. From 2008-2010, it was really in the toilet. Yet, Lucas Oil Stadium sold out every game during that span, and the wait list for season tickets grew.
It's not the economy. It's the shallow fans.
Again, for most of you who read this blog, I personally consider you the true Colts fans. If you are true fans of this franchise, you are EXCITED about 2012. It's a new era. The team is finally trending upward, forging a new path. We're also the luckiest (pun intended) franchise in the history of pro sports.
Seriously, our team is going from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. This kind of transition doesn't just rarely happen. IT NEVER HAPPENS!
The closest comparison is Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, but even that isn't accurate. Favre and Rodgers were not No. 1 overall selections, and neither were ready to start as rookies during their careers.
We have nothing to be upset about. Nothing. Yet, it seems a rather sizable group of people are upset, and all that does is make our market and fanbase look like silly children crying because we hate change. It's likely a contributing factor in the league assigning only one primetime game to the Colts in 2012, with fifteen 1:00 PM ET games.
It's frustrating. It's sad. It's what makes Indianapolis third and fourth tier sports market. If we want our city and our franchise to truly be elite, we have to grow up. We show more loyalty to crappy Indiana University basketball (which was irrelevant from pretty much 2002-2012) than we do to professional sports teams with long track records of winning and excellence.
As I wrote on SB Nation Indiana last month when the news of the season ticket renewals first broke:
You all might not like my tone with this article, but this is something Indiana fans all need to hear: You are known for being inconsistent, bothersome, annoying, and extremely fickle when it comes to your taste in sports teams. That is your label. If you want to change it, start getting more consistent in your fan tastes. If you followed crappy I.U. basketball for the last ten years, you shouldn't be jumping off the Colts bandwagon now.
If you are, you just kind of... well, you suck.
Crude terms, I know, but there is no other way to say it.
At some point, Indiana needs to decided if it is a real sports markets, because right now it isn't. This is embarrassing. For those of you who are real fans, you're what this market needs to become. For those of you who jumped ship because Jim Irsay cut a 36-year-old quarterback with arm strength and neck issues, sorry, but you aren't a Colts fan. You probably never were.