“Keep that same energy bro.” –A message to DC sports fans
When the Washington Capitals made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before eventually getting to and winning the Stanley Cup Finals, sports fans in the nation’s capital flooded the city in droves on a nightly basis.
When Bryce Harper participated and won the 2018 Home Run Derby at Nationals Park this past July, the city rallied around Harper and gave him support and love like he had never seen before (this winter’s contract situation may have fueled some of that fire; but I digress).
When the Washington Mystics reached the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history….those same DC sports fans were no where to been found.
Whether you support the WNBA or not (which is another discussion in itself), the Mystics making the Finals, for the first time in since the team’s induction into the league in 1998; was a prime opportunity for fans who claim they support “all the home teams” to jump on the bandwagon.
Instead, the Mystics didn’t even sell out EagleBank Arena on the campus of George Mason University for their game three match up against the eventual champion Seattle Storm.
On June 8, 2018, the Mystics had a home game originally scheduled for 7:00pm. In order to accommodate a watch party for game five of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Mystics not only moved their game time up to 4:00pm; but made admission to the game free. When the free tickets went online on Ticketmaster over 80,000 people attempted to reserve a seat, shutting down the site within seconds. Max capacity at Capital One Arena is just over 20,000 during basketball events.
In addition to the 20,000+ packed inside the arena, nearly 100,000 people took to the streets to watch and celebrate on the most historic sports night in the city’s history. An estimated 500,000 people stood outside in over 90 degree summer heat to attend the Capitals’ victory parade just five days later.
The popularity of the WNBA is steadily growing every year. The evidence is in the ratings and conversation activity on social media. Over the past month, like the Capitals, the team from Washington that flew under the radar during the regular season defeated one top contender after another during their quest to reach the pinnacle of their league.
If the Wizards were to ever make the NBA Finals, numbers would be on the same level or higher than in June. If the Redskins were to reach the Super Bowl, let alone win, there is no doubt the entire DMV would need to be shut down.
The issue goes far beyond the fans though. From restaurants refusing to show the game, as examined by fellow journalist Dellan Sellers; to the media not providing the same coverage as earlier this summer. Everyone in this city failed the Washington Mystics.
I’m not asking or saying that the attendance numbers should have compared to those of what the city accomplished during the Cup celebration; however this city had an opportunity to keep that same energy when it came to supporting another one of the home teams and like Redskins running backs often do, we dropped the ball.