It’s been a week since the Randy Bernard announcement and what a week it’s been. I wrote a blog post on Tuesday with my viewpoints on the current situation at INDYCAR. Consider this a follow-up post, looking for some answers from you.
Note that I wrote this yesterday (Saturday) morning and was undecided on whether or not to post it. Yesterday afternoon, I read another blogger’s post and it was the ‘aha moment’ I needed to go ahead and post, with the hope of gaining clarity and working toward a solution.
From all the comments, tweets and conversations I’ve observed this week, two complaints were most prevalent:
- The fans are upset about Randy Bernard being fired because people liked him. He was described in Marshall Pruett’s article as a “rockstar” and many fans felt like they had a direct line of communication to him.
- INDYCAR is not being transparent. The fans need more information about what’s going on, in addition to feeling like they’re appreciated.
I had an enlightening conversation the other day with one of the people I respect most in this sport. This man, who has followed INDYCAR since he was five years old, said that he follows the sport for the racing, which is the best its been in years. He remarked that a majority of INDYCAR fans don’t care (or don’t even know) who the CEO is, and that that shouldn’t affect the on-track product.
He ended with, “I love this sport and I certainly don’t need a giant thank you sign for going to the race or watching it on tv.”
It made me step back and think about the other sports that I follow. I’m not involved professionally in any other sport, so I feel that I can look at it objectively. Take football, for instance. I’m a fan and I watch for the game, the players, the rivalries and the fun.
There are two things I don’t expect:
- I don’t expect to be told why the NFL makes staffing decisions.
- I don’t expect them to thank me for watching the games.
So why is INDYCAR different for the fans?
I think back to my first INDYCAR experience, falling in love with this sport the second I heard those engines fire. My first race was so amazing that I knew right away that I wanted to be more involved. But not once did I ever wonder why the head honchos weren’t thanking me for being there.
I wonder if INDYCAR’s super-access nature makes people feel like they’re so “in the know” that when there’s a staff change, it feels like they’ve lost a family member? Is that a bad thing? (I’m asking, not telling). I wonder where the “show me you love me” mentality comes from? And are the two complaints connected?
Also, I wonder, whether the new CEO is a fan favorite or not, if he should have a full-time “fan liason” that the fans have a direct line to and who responds like Randy did.
The blog I did earlier in the week was met with lots of positive feedback, but there were a few people who misread my point, and assumed I was saying “good riddance” and that it doesn’t matter if we lose more fans. That couldn’t be more opposite than how I feel. If you think I’m not conscious of the fans and how important they are, then you don’t know me, or what I do and you clearly don’t understand my passion for wanting this sport to succeed.
This post is basically a fact-finding session, to help clear the confusion and figure out the bottom line. I understand that the timeline/PR/etiquette of Randy’s dismissal are all under fire but let’s put that aside.
I just want to know: Ultimately, what do YOU want? When you say, “they don’t care about the fans,” what are you looking for? If you were writing a letter to the CEO and you knew he/she was listening, what would you ask for?
NOTE: If you’re going to comment here, please be polite and productive. I’m asking this of you because I’m truly listening and I want work towards a solution. And I’m a nice person.