Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Parable

So you go to the doctor. Up until this moment, he's been telling you that you're probably about as healthy as anyone else whenever you've visited him. This time, however, he puts on his "business face".

"I have to break some bad news to you," he says. "You have a potentially fatal condition. It's a very strange malady, one that is usually cured by a transfusion. Furthermore, I can guarantee that you'll survive until say, September or October. After that...I don't know. The condition might resolve itself. The transfusion will save your life, but you might even survive without it. However, if you die...it will be before May or June of next year."

"How will I know if I'm going to live?" I ask.

"If you get the transfusion, the chances are 99 percent that you and I will be talking here next year. If you die...it could come any way. You might have fair warning, or you just might keel over and drop dead in a heartbeat. You'll definitely live for a few more weeks, after that, you need that transfusion. I can guarantee you this, though...if you do die, you'll probably have little or no warning."

"Are these transfusions easy to get?"

"No," he says. "Now, I know of some successful cases. There was someone in Los Angeles and someone in Seattle that got the transfusion, and they're thriving. Someone in Houston got a transfusion, but a year later they needed another one. We had to put them on life support. They didn't get another transfusion, and they didn't survive."

"What are my chances? Can you give me any odds?"

"No. Absolutely none. Your chances of being here next year are anywhere between 0 percent and 100 percent. All I can tell you is...take precautions, and keep your hopes up."

(* * *)

By now, you've guessed the meaning of my parable. The "patient" is the Atlanta Dream and the "transfusion" needed is a major investor or even a new owner. My question: what does the patient do?

The first thing the patient should do is to live his or her life as they normally have. No need to fall into the pit of despair. That doesn't help anybody. You look at life as if you're guaranteed to be here next May or June. It might be foolish optimism, but the other alternative is to start digging your own grave.

The second thing to do is to get that transfusion. Season ticket holders need to show up to games. They need to invite friends to games. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution won't help us; they're more interested in writing our obituary than about our miraculous cure. There are six home games in August and we need to attend as many of them as possible.

There's one game in September: September 11th. Don't let this be the Dream's 9/11. You'd better go to that game, because it could be the last one we see. When you go to games, you show people that there's a fandom in Atlanta that cares about this team and it's success.

To quote Lou Brown of Major League:

"All right people, we got 10 minutes 'till game time, let's all gather 'round. I'm not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I'd just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we'd save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I'm for wasting sportswriters' time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give 'em all a nice big shitburger to eat!"

The third thing to do...is make your will. We must prepare for all of the scenarios. I wrote about scenario building earlier this year and there are basically four of them.

The most likely case: This case automatically assumes that all current trends will continue. Franchises in this position of suddenly looking for new owners end up doing one of two things: finding them, or not. Your guess is as good as mine. There's really not another example with which to compare.

The best case: We find a new principal investor, and find him or her very soon. Next year, Dream fans are laughing about this and saying, "boy, we dodged a bullet!"

High impact but low probability:

* It is announced immediately that the Dream will relocate or will fold. This makes the Dream a dead franchise for the rest of the season. Attendance suffocates. Low probability for this one.
* Things are worse than Terwilliger claims, and the WNBA takes over the team.
* Things are worse than Terwilliger and the WNBA claim, and the team folds in mid-season, the first such folding in WNBA history.

The worst case: The Dream stays on the death watch for months, and finally the WNBA announces the folding of the team, or possibly the team's relocation to Tulsa. Since there's more cash in starting a team than moving one, moving one is the unlikely option.

Or even sadder, another investor comes in with big pockets, but wants the team in Toronto/Nashville/Kansas City/Denver/wherever. Just not in Atlanta. In any event, the Atlanta Dream enter WNBA history, and I start blogging about some other WNBA team.

(* * *)

So what do you do? You eat! You drink, and you enjoy every Dream win that we get! If we go to the playoffs, we Ride the Wax Tadpole to a WNBA championship. You get your friends to come to these games...and you always, always keep your chin up.

One Team, One Dream.


Q McCall said...

I like this a lot. Great post.

ALWAYS sad when a sports franchise folds...and it would not bode well for the WNBA to lose a team two years in a row (it's oldest dynasty and it's newest market).

If the AJC doesn't want to spend energy sending a lowly college intern to the games to cover them... they should at the very least print your plea for attendance or some version of it.

If they still abide by the fundamental elements of news -- proximity, timeliness, consequence...and perhaps prominence and human interest -- then they could at least run this as an op ed...

Q McCall said...


By "I like this a lot"...I meant "This was a nice read"...not that I like the idea of the Dream folding...