Friday, November 7, 2008

If somebody comments on the Rapids and the FO doesn't respond, did it really happen?

On Wednesday the Rhinos released a statement saying that Steve Guppy was leaving the team to join the Rapids as assistant coach and help Gary Smith. As this was obviously significant Rapids news I wrote a post about it, as did Bonji at Class VI. We both believed that the press release and the information contained in it meant that it was likely the Rapids had chosen Smith as the next head coach.

Since then we have both received comments in private from the Rapids Front Office saying that we're assuming things or that the we don't know the full story, etc. While that might be the case, the problem is that the Rhinos and Guppy are the only ones talking in public. The press release stated that Guppy will be joining Smith with the Rapids. Given that its not assumptions on our part, its going with the facts that we know.

This is hardly the first time that a rumor about the Rapids has been circulating, and instead of making a formal statement about it all we see is comments from well-connected fans saying they've heard the rumor is wrong. Very often these comments come from people in the Front Office that, at least from their job titles, aren't involved with the rumor. The comments are always somewhat cloudy, with things only half said.

It appears the the Rapids and/or KSE do not want people talking about the Rapids or their off-season news. They prefer that everyone go follow the Avalanche and Nuggets and ignore whatever the Rapids must be doing. This is misguided at best, and stupid at worst. You want your fans following the team in the off-season, you want to keep the team in the news, you want people thinking about buying tickets and merchandise. The two most followed leagues in this country, NFL and MLB, have figured this out and welcomed it. MLB has the whole Hot Stove League that's been built up around its offseason. The NFL has made an event out of the Draft, not to mention unending minicamps and workouts.

The cynic in me says the reason that KSE doesn't want anyone following the Rapids offseason news is that they don't want the lack of news to be noticed. Last offseason they refused to even discuss the terms of the Gomez trade, even to the point that they've still never officially stated what they traded for Gomez though everyone can see that suddenly DC has two DP slots. The die-hard fans know the Rapids have a great deal to do this offseason. They need to get the coaching situation settled, deal with out of contract players like Pablo and Bouna, and figure out what they're going to do about Christian Gomez. If KSE doesn't have a plan then the less attention paid to the Rapids the better for KSE.

Fan relations have never been a strong suit for the Rapids either under AEG or KSE. While there are individuals in the Front Office who go out of their way to try to work with the supporters there's never been a coherent strategy for fan-team relations. The ongoing silence out of the Front Office about any news story of interest is just one more indication that KSE is not focused on, and quite possibly not interested in, making the Rapids a top-notch MLS organization.

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