“It’s still a business.”

If you’re an older sibling, there was a point in your life where you had to choose whether to tell your little brother or sister Santa and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real or let them be. Your parents likely reasoned with you, asking you to let them enjoy it as long as they could. “Just one more year,” they would ask.

Working in sports, everyone in the organization is playing big brother and big sister. That young sibling is the fan.

Not making the connection?

The fans of a team have a luxury of enjoying the game at face value. For a fan, the stadium cleans itself after every game, empty seats are unfortunate, and the players always take the field. They don’t see the dozens cleaning into the late hours, the sales representatives making cold calls in the off-season, or the contract negotiations.

Those who work in sports, the guardians of the truth, have the option of maintaining the fans’ picturesque image or shattering it in one sentence: “It’s still a business.”

This came up tonight in Troy Kirby’s (@SportsTao) chat when Troy asked:

The two very basic ways of approaching this are “Yes, it shows the fans that the Suns care” or “No, it’s still a business and the trade was a business move.”

Fans don’t want to hear the latter. Fans enjoy the pageantry of the event and the escape the sport provides. Though the die-hard fan will understand the intricacies of a trade, the base of your support doesn’t – nor do they want to. When they arrive to the facility, they’ll want to roam a bit to see the arena or stadium, grab some food, and settle in for what they hope is a great game.

Reminding them that this place is no different than their 9-5 job? Never the answer.

“It’s still a business” is an answer for your co-worker, not your fans.

Bite your tongue, apologize for something out of your hands, and give ‘em a coupon for $1 off their next beverage. But don’t take away one of the biggest reasons they come – the pleasure of sports.

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