- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

One of the compelling elements missing from the fallout generated from the Redskins-sue-fans series in The Washington Post is personal accountability, quaint as that notion is in America today.

Owning premium season tickets is a luxury item, no different from owning a sports car, boat or lakeside resort home.

Would anyone be feeling the pain of those owners who defaulted on their payments? Would anyone be wringing their hands or saying foul things of the lenders seeking restitution?

I know what you are thinking: But owning a yacht is different from owning premium season tickets to a beloved institution, which is true enough.

You actually have far more latitude to peddle premium season tickets than you do a sports car in times of economic hardship.

A season ticket, unlike a sports car, does not lose value the moment it is in someone’s possession. If anything, a creative person could find a way to make money on the ticket, starting with the Redskins-Cowboys game.

Not that I am advising anyone to do that, because it is against the law.

Another unsettling element of the fallout is a failure to acknowledge that the financial circumstances of individuals rarely run in a straight line. There are ups and downs, some more dramatic than others.

The wise person plans for down periods, setting aside funds. And rest assured, in good times or bad, something unfortunate is bound to happen to a percentage of those tied to 20,000 premium-seat contracts.

That is the genius of Daniel Snyder. He is trafficking in statistical probability. Even in good times, a certain percent of the 20,000 is going to experience a financial hit, and Snyder’s empire is poised to do what it must to meet the bottom line.

That hardly makes Snyder the personification of evil. What it makes him is a businessman.

He is providing a high-dollar product, and it is up to you, the consumer, to make the decision on whether to purchase it. No arms are twisted. No guns are pointed. The consumer is free to sign a premium-seat contract. Or not.

Apparently, a number of fans lead with their hearts instead of their brains.

The rabid inclination of the team’s fans is well-documented, their love and loyalty so deep that it sometimes defies financial logic and what attending a football game has come to be in these parts.

A game is no longer an event. It is an ordeal that guts the whole day, whether you leave home early to beat the traffic or accept the bumper-to-bumper challenge. Either way, you lose. If you leave home early, you are sentenced to the parking lot, where many fans munch on hot dogs and hamburgers while inhaling vast amounts of carbon monoxide. If you leave with the masses, you are reduced to being a blithering bundle of nerves.

The arduous FedEx Field experience is the antithesis of the one at RFK Stadium, which compensated for its cookie-cutter design with intimacy and convenience.

That change in venue, just to remind everyone, is not on Snyder but the late Jack Kent Cooke.

Snyder undoubtedly has been guilty of exploiting the fan base’s deep well of passion. He certainly has paid a steep public relations price.

But the fans are guilty, too. They want the warm and cuddly mom-and-pop owner. They also want the cold, calculating owner who stares down other owners before spending vast sums of money to secure a top-flight free agent.

Abe Pollin has been criticized over the years as being an owner reluctant to spend to keep or secure top-flight talent. The Lerner family, father and son, heard the same complaint in their first few seasons of owning the Nationals.

Snyder, of course, is guilty of overindulging his coaching staff and players. If Joe Gibbs were still around, his staff probably would have expanded to a 1-to-1 ratio of coaches and players by now.

And Snyder would have signed off on it, too, while passing along the cost to you, the acquiescent consumer, the one being absolved of personal accountability because the owner is such an easy target.

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