Initially, like many of you, I was upset at this comment. OF COURSE FANS MATTER! The irrational side of me also had the fleeting thought of “we pay your salary” (That is a stupid thought, never say that out loud).
However, after sitting on this for a couple days, I understand where he is coming from.
I had a conversation with my good buddy and local radio host, Andy Bunker, and we both came to the same conclusion – fans all “fan” differently and that is okay. Atlanta has a bad rep for being a really bad sports town, one that I defended many times on former radio show.
However, put yourself in Hooper’s place, two of his first three NFL seasons have been spent playing on a Super Bowl caliber team in a stadium half empty and quiet.
Many of you that read this site (THANK YOU) are die-hard Falcons fans and we expect everyone to be as die-hard as we are. If we cannot be at MBS for a game, we are parked on our couch or in a sports bar for the next 4 hours watching and live dissecting the game. We then spend the next two hours on social media ripping the teams mistakes or talking smack to rivals in our mentions.
If you are anything like me, I am on the phone texting all my friends to gauge their opinion on what they saw as well.
Not every fan has our level of passion – and that is acceptable. Some fans are temporary or fair-weather; every fan base needs those. The fair-weather fan is like the grout between the tile of your kitchen back-splash, they fill in the gaps for those of us that are die-hard.
I think what we saw from Austin Hooper on his IG account was him venting his frustrations with the first two seasons at MBS. Half-empty stadium, despite all tickets sold. Away crowds for teams like the Packers and Cowboys being more prevalent and for those that are showing up, booing more than they are cheering. These are frustrations that I have had as well.
I have heard the excuse a million times – tickets are too expensive, the Falcons have priced out the real fan. In reality, our entertainment dollars go a lot further here than most cities and we do not prioritize our sports teams.
We spend money where we put priority, mostly bills and kids. I get it, I do. What about the last four home games this year when tickets on the secondary ticket market were $35? They were not too expensive then, but we still did not show up to support these guys and the work that they put in.
That is exactly what Austin Hooper is talking about.
More of us are fair-weather than we want to admit and the players are looking for as much consistency from us as we are from them. Before we jump on Hoop for being vocal, we need to take a step back and look at what can we do to support this team moving forward in our Super Bowl window.